Barely perceptible shadows performed an agitated dance across the dark ceiling of Wil’s bedroom. They were the faint shades of spindly winter trees beyond her window, beyond her curtains. They danced in time to her father’s snores in the room down the hall, and were led by the gathering storm.
A part of Wil’s consciousness was transfixed by the black on dark gray above her, as she lay on her back on her bed. Her right hand toyed distractedly with the decoded note she had filled out in the hospital waiting room. Her hair lay around her head in dark tangles. Her skinny legs and bare feet stuck out of the old oversized T-shirt she had donned hours before.
Wil had tried, really she had. How can I sleep when asked to sleep on a question like that? She wondered to herself. Really, though, they all knew the answer. They just wanted more time.
“I didn’t even get to tell her about my secret notes!” Wil said angrily to the dark room.
She rolled over again, crying again. That was why her father was snoring, she realized, as her breathing became congested. She sighed a shuddering sound.
They had decided Cynthia would spend the night at the hospital, monitored by her doctor and the ever-cheerful Nurse Bea (On Call till 3!). Rob would bring her home tomorrow, and life would have to go on as it normally did in the Winters family.
Wil wondered how many other families lived each day like they did: a countdown. They even had a name for the end of that count. Jakob had proposed they call it Death Day, but Cynthia had insisted on Goodbye. Wil had thought it beautiful, and felt no need to suggest an alternative.
“Countdown to Goodbye,” Wil told herself. As poetic as it sounded, acceptance became increasingly difficult as the real possibility drew ever closer.
“Goodbye,” Wil told the darkness, the shadows, and herself. She could do it.
She reached over and set her crumpled paper on the dresser next to the bed. She would tell her mother all about it tomorrow. She snuggled deep under her old comforter and deep into other thoughts.
The wind outside relentlessly pulled and pushed at tree limbs. Despite its best efforts, only the dim outlines of their dance could be seen within. And, soon there was no one to watch as Wil finally drifted to sleep.