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A Caller Named Death
Death is never any easy visitor to deal with - it is cold and invasive; it tears apart families, and has no remorse. But death that takes away the young; rips infants, barely minutes old from their parents arms - is the sort of thing that I never thought I could deal with.
It was unexpected, as Death usually is, on that cold, November morning. We had barely time to say good-bye; the doctors said days, weeks maybe, by the time they had diagnosed my dear, young, lovely friend, Genevieve, who was barely fifteen years old. Genevieve had taken it like a true heroine - never doubting that it was her time to go, and that she would certainly have a place in heaven; and with her I agreed.
I hadn’t seen Gen in months. We of course, had met at St. Mary’s school for young girls, three years before. Gen had left school the year before to travel with her newly found father. This of course, had been the last time I had seen her. She had been a beautiful girl, with long, chestnut locks and big, gleaming eyes. Even in her plaid school frock she was simply ravishing. She had what some would call an ‘old soul’, and it suited her well.
She told me of her fate in a letter, and it was something that I would never forget. Genevieve always had a way with words. She told me not to ‘fret’, for she had earned her place in heaven and would see me once again. She didn’t seem fazed that this thing, this disease, cancer, they called it, would destroy her and take her away from a world not deserving of her presence in the first place.
I had arrived promptly at Gen’s home, and was taken in graciously by her mother; who had raised her on her own. The house was large and old. From the outside it held all of it’s old-aged charm, a cheery yellow color and large, bay windows on the bottom floor. I had gazed at it from the side walk for only a moment, before being beckoned inside by Genevieve’s mother. Mrs. Davies looked much like her daughter; she was naturally beautiful, with large hazel eyes and light chestnut hair. But she seemed frazzled now. Her hair was graying at it’s roots, and was pulled back messily into a pony-tail. The skin under eyes bore large, purple circles, obviously from stress and restlessness. She stood in front of me, at the foot of the steps, wringing her hands together nervously.
“Well, dear, Gen is awake now, but - I must warn you; she does not look the way she did the last you saw her.” I nodded grimly, understanding fully; though I had never known anyone plagued with such a disease as cancer. I followed her slowly up the steep steps, my pulse pounding. She came to the first door at the top of the stairs on the right. The door was decorated with pictures and ‘Genevieve’ was engraved in gold on a small, black plaque of wood. Even the door matched Gen’s Victorian-England taste.
I was not prepared for what lay behind that door. Mrs. Davies opened it slowly and quietly, and spoke to her daughter in a small voice.
“Darling, Miss Abbot is here to see you.” I heard a distant, croaking voice answer - a voice very unlike that of my Genevieve, whose voice had been that of the angels, tinkling like bells - she had had the most beautiful singing voice in all of St. Mary’s, or at least, in our class. I stepped through the door and into a room that was undoubtedly Gen‘s. It was beautiful. The walls were a cream color - black and white pictures were scantly arranged across them; pictures of England and France, India and Africa - all the places Gen had visited when she met her father. My eyes fell lastly, on the bed. Large, gossamer curtains hung around it on mahogany pillars; and laying in a mass of down comforters, stuffed animals and pillows was the small frame of a girl who resembled Genevieve very little. Her head (I learned later she no longer had her mass of chestnut curls) was covered with a white, hand-knitted cap, that in other circumstances would have been becoming to her; and her eyes bore much larger black circles than her mothers; her cheeks were pale and thin, revealing the high cheek bones beneath. I almost cried as I looked at the frail little body, ravaged by this awful disease. The cancer had eaten away at her and now barely left a thing that resembled the beauty I had known as my friend. The only thing reminiscent of dear Genevieve, where her large, bright hazel eyes. They shone brighter than they ever had before. Tears came to my eyes as I looked at her, and I realized I hadn’t even left the doorway. A small voice, I wondered where it possibly could have come from, spoke to me.
“Please, Cara, come to my bed. Don’t linger there in the doorway like you are not welcomed.” I realized with remorse that it was the enervated voice of my dear friend. I finally came to my senses and quickly swept to her side, taking up a frail hand.
“Oh Gen! Sweet Genevieve, what has it done to you?” She grinned weakly at me.
“So like you, Cara, to seek the worst in a situation.” I shook my head, but smiled grimly at her.
“And so like you, sweetheart, to only find good.” She smiled brighter; it rose to her eyes and her cheeks flushed a small bit, and for a moment I saw the healthy, beautiful version of my friend.
“Don’t worry about me, Cara. I am going to heaven. It is you and mom that I worry about, and of course all of my other friends. You should not cry for me, it is I who should cry for you! I get to go to the Kingdom of God! Isn’t it wonderful?” I nodded, tears streaming down my cheeks.
“Yes! Yes, Gen, it is most wonderful!” She lifted her hand faintly and brushed away a tear.
“Oh, now! Don’t cry! I told you not to be sad for me! You will see me again. You, too, have a place in heaven when your time comes. You are too good to not!” I squeezed her hand lightly. She was lovely even now, laying on her death bed, with maybe, only moments or days to live. I could hardly believe how very calm and excepting she was. Her eyelids drooped heavily and she said in a sleepy tone, “Cara, please sit by me and hold my hand. I should sleep now, I am so very tired…” Her voice drifted off and she slumbered peacefully. I sat in the chair beside her bed and held her cold, little hand. I thought about it sadly; my friend, how soon Death would come and take it’s claim on her. Every once in a while I would look upon her chest, watch it raise and fall; I held a fear that she would not wake.
I was drifting off when a small voice called out to me, and I looked to the bed to see Genevieve, eyes open, hand pointed to a pitcher on the bedside table.
“Water.” She croaked. I quickly stood and poured the water into the cup.
“You - will have to - help.” She whispered. I obeyed by putting a hand under her head and raising the glass to her lips. She drank little, but it seemed to replenish her thirst enough. “Better?” I asked quietly, letting her head rest on the pillow once again, and taking my seat by the bed.
“Yes, thank you. What a good friend you are.” She shrunk under the covers, shivering slightly.
“It is very cold in here - I should like something warm to drink.” I rose from the chair and started toward the stairs.
“I will not be long, I will only fetch your mother.” I ascended the stairs quickly this time. Mrs. Davies was in the kitchen. She was slumped against the table, her head resting on her folded arms. I laid a hand carefully on her shoulder.
“Mrs. Davies?” I said quietly, trying not to startle her. She bolted up, her eyes flashing around the room until they found me.
“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. Genevieve had wakened and wishes for something hot to drink. I would do it myself, but I don’t know my way around your kitchen.” Mrs. Davies stood and brushed hair away from her face.
“It’s fine, dear. I will get it. Go on back up with Gen, I’m sure she’s getting lonely. Tonight the nurse-” She paused and a distasteful look fell across her features. “and her father, should be here.” I had the feeling that Mrs. Davies and Mr. Davies did not get along well. I ventured back up the stairs, curious about the other rooms, but I knew this was not the time to wonder the hallways. I entered the room to find that Genevieve had acquired a little red book and a pen, and seemed to be writing. She let it fall, her hands shaking.
“I have written my story - I hope I can be an inspiration. I just - I know not everyone looks upon their fate as I do.” I nodded solemnly, not prepared for the next thing that Gen asked of me.
“When I - pass, will you please - some how…get it out there for me?” I felt my eyes widen. She turned away a little, ashamed, I think.
“I am sorry. Of course it is too much to ask.” I shook my head quickly, falling into the chair at her bedside.
“No, no, Gen. I promise, I will do everything I can to get your story told - in your words.” She smiled to me, but it had no luster left. I took her hand between my two and tried to warm the skin.
“I have just finished all of the last little touches on my book. You can take it now - I am satisfied with it.”
Half an hour later, when Genevieve had fallen back into a short slumber, I took up the little red book. I opened it’s leather front, and read the shaky words on the front page.
A Caller Named Death
By Genevieve Paige Davies
Tears came steady and fast to my eyes, and I let them come. I held the book to my chest and wept for my young friend, so early to ascend this world, yet she did it with such grace and hope. I looked upon my friend for the last time that night, so soon to be lost to me, to the world - but some how, perhaps because of her constant reassurance, I knew she would be at peace.