i was debating on whether to post this or not considering it's one of my personal pieces... i mean the story's totally fictitious, but the deeper "between-the-lines" stuff really delves into what i've experienced in my past.

whatever, i guess i'll just do this.

Casimir Pulaski Day
by "Starlight"

for jimmy.

I shuffled my feet sheepishly. Maybe I was being too considerate, or just a good person. I hoped she would like them anyway.

She turned to me, gave me a smile, but I could sense the fear surrounding her. In all honesty, I was just as scared.

“How was your day, despite the fact that you found out you have cancer?” I asked as she rummaged through the boxes and pulled out my gifts I had bought for her. I know, it was slightly abrupt, but the words just couldn't help but tumble out of my mouth. Besides, it wasn't really today that she had found out, it was a week ago and my work schedule had finally calmed down enough to the point where I could visit her.

“Can't complain... I was worried about telling you and my friends, but not as worried as telling my dad.” She sighed and picked picked up the goldenrod wrapped up in paper, admiring the yellow petals for a while before looking for a vase in the kitchen cabinet of her apartment.


She gave me a look that reminded me of the time when I asked a stupid question. That must have been a stupid question.

“You know as well as I do that my father was diagnosed with bone cancer a while back but was cured. He'd feel bad for passing on his disease to me, and he'd grieve for God knows how long. I just want him to be happy; he's lost Mom already.”

“I know, I know.” I nodded solemnly, my head bobbing up and down rhythmically. I remembered that incident two months ago with her mother. I knew she still kept pictures of her mom somewhere and still grieved herself, but not as much as her father who was devastated.

“Just call him. I'll be here for guidance if you need anything.” I suggested as she filled her newly found vase with water and placed the goldenrod inside.

“Oh come on, May. I'll be fine, I swear. I got this, alright?” She argued, putting the vase on her windowsill and admiring her work for a bit before facing me again. She didn't look happy.

“Please, Savanna, I'm only trying to help. I want the best for you and I don't want to put as much pressure as you already have on you from your dad. I swear I won't bug you; I'll just sit here quietly and listen and give you reassuring pats and gestures, okay?”

At first, Savanna looked doubtful, but after great hesitation she finally agreed. Biting her lip, she picked up the house telephone resting on the granite tops of her kitchen counter and dialed her father's number.

The minute she told him, a tiny voice in my brain kept saying that it was probably the wrong idea and a big mistake. It was, in actuality. I could hear the sound of disbelief, then Savanna correcting her father, and then the sobs.

These were terrible, loud, racking sobs. I bet people outside in the bustling streets of Chicago, Illinois could hear him.

Savanna let him grieve for a while, closing her eyes and slowly shaking her head as he continued on, blabbering something about her mother and how he blamed himself on everything bad that had happened to her.

Finally, she had had enough and began to reason with her father, trying to drive back some sense in him. I could see she was beginning to lose hope because her father continued nevertheless. I took her hand, and she gave a grateful, and heartfelt look towards me. I smiled back, trying to keep her spirits up.

But her determination grew into shock, “Wait, Dad... What? You're... What now? What are you doing? Stop... Don't...” The sound of the line being broken alerted me and she drew away the phone from her ear.

One look was all it took for me to know that something went wrong. Her green eyes were wide and sparkled with fear. She took my hand and lead me outside her apartment towards her car. When I asked where we were going she said, “To the Navy yard, to meet my father.”

Of course I was shocked when I saw her father standing near his little white Honda, tears glistening in his eyes and his fingers latched together in front of him. Savanna jumped out of the car, me trailing behind as she ran towards him and threw her arms around him. He began to cry just as hard as he did over the phone on her shoulder, and then I heard him breathe how sorry he was, and how the drive here was just to prove that.

“No, Dad... You didn't have to do all this... You know I'm going to be fine, I'm a big girl, I can handle this.” It reminded me of what she told me before she called her father. Savanna was always a very independent person, believing that she could do whatever on her own. She seemed to have no limits sometimes.

“But you're also my baby girl... My one and only; you're the only one left.” His voice was barely audible above a whisper and I was surprised I was even able to hear it.

In the minute Savanna drew away her arms from her father's back, he crumpled to the ground on his knees, hands clasped together in prayer as he looked towards the sky and began to mumble pleads to God. His hands were shaking along with his voice, letting me know the raw power and emotion he was showing in this.

Savanna and I could do nothing but watch him pray, and bow our heads solemnly. Whenever I stole glances at him, I saw him as pitiful, weak, and frightened. For his sake, I would protect Savanna.

It was for my sake as well.

I had slept over at Savanna's that night, keeping my promise in protecting her with all my might. I had to protect her, it was my duty from now on.

But then again, it always was, ever since she and I met all those years ago.

I watched her as she flipped through the seventh Harry Potter book. She had already read the series, but was reading it again, backwards. I smiled as I remembered she and I joking about it, and how it was pointless, but interesting nonetheless.

I was sitting across the room from her, on the leather reclining chair and watching the sun's light shine down on her pale skin and touch the pages of the bestselling book. Her eyes went back and forth as they scanned the pages, then her fingers moving as they flicked from one page to the next.

Savanna was a beautiful girl, one I had always admired, always hung out with, and one I always loved. I should have showed more emotion towards the fact that she had cancer, but I had a feeling that she would get through it. Hopefully.

But, living or dead, she would always remain a beauty in my eyes. A diamond in a sea of oil; she was just that outstanding.

I couldn't resist myself that night. The way she smiled and laughed as I told her a joke I had learned from my comedic father.

I wanted to make her feel good, so that she didn't have to worry about the complications with the disease, her father, or anything else in her conflicting lifestyle.

As we sat together on the couch, watching a late night soap opera, my fingers grazed hers and I turned to her, lips upturned into a smile. She looked back and we both stared into each other's eyes, violet meeting green. I leaned forward and made a perfect kiss on her mouth, eyes closed, savoring the moment that seemed to last for eons, but in truth, was only a few seconds.

The desire to protect grew in me. I knew I wouldn't dare let anything happen to this beautiful girl. I just loved her too much to even imagine her being lost forever in the haze of death and the afterlife.

But another worry was present. I still hadn't told her father about this relationship. She hadn't told him either, and having to lie to his face about being good friends was agonizing. I was never a dishonest person, neither was Savanna.

Still, we knew how hateful her father was over the gay and lesbian population. How he thought they were all ungrateful sinners with a path set straight to Hell. Of course Savanna and I didn't appreciate this, but agreed with him just to add on to the lies in the hopes that we come out as honest to him.

I wondered if he would ever find out. What if Savanna did die without him even knowing of this secret love...?

It was Tuesday night, the week after I stayed over at Savanna's house. She, her father, and I were at Bible study. The news had already spread like wildfire all around the church members, and many came up to her that night, saying their blessings and how they would pray for her and her family every minute of the day.

So many people here cared for Savanna, and she appreciated everything they said and probably had said “thank you” that night at least a thousand times.

With each coming prayer that Savanna received, I was becoming more and more scared that nothing would ever happen. I believed in God, and I believed he would protect Savanna more than I ever could, and I also believed that these prayers would strengthen that. Still, why did I believe that there was no use?

I guess it was just the fact that I was impatient. Nothing seemed to happen to Savanna, there was no spark of sudden health like what a little kid would expect. I had to be patient and trust that God knew what He was doing. Throughout the whole study session, I prayed to God in my head for Savanna's safety, and as I took a quick glance around the chapel, I could see that many others looked like they were doing the same thing too.

“Hey, do you want to hang out at Michael's house this weekend?” It was a simple question that I asked Savanna, as we both walked back to her apartment after getting coffee from a Starbucks down the street that coming Friday.

She looked at me, surprised, “Michael? I haven't seen him since high school. I didn't even know he still remembered us.”

I shrugged, “I was pretty surprised too when he called me yesterday. He said there was some get-together party at his house on Saturday and he was inviting his old high school friends. There's probably going to be some people we don't know there.”

Savanna looked thoughtful, her eyes twinkling with curiosity. It was in this moment that I remembered how she had started the chemotherapy last week and was starting to get a little more exhausted. Even now, there was a hint of tiredness in her voice as the doctors gave her her treatment weekly.

“I guess I'll go as long as you're going.” Her voice broke me out of my thoughts.

“Oh, alright... But, are you sure you want to go? I mean, I think you're still tired from your chemotherapy on Monday.” I was kind of surprised. I don't even think she liked Michael that much in high school, but I digress. Maybe she just wanted to have some fun with me. I still was worried about her being too tired, though.

“I'm sure. I actually feel fine.” She sounded reassuring, and true. I still couldn't believe her, no matter the honesty that she spoke in. What was wrong with me lately? There was just this sense of foreboding inside of me, that something was off, and something was definitely going to go wrong.

I swallowed my anxiety and nodded to her in understanding. She smiled at me and I smiled back, but I felt like it was the most painful smile that I managed.

It was in the living room when it happened. Saturday night, we had partied hard at Michael's house. It was all a blur that night, I hardly remember what happened except for this; this one moment that I am unsure if I should either regret or be okay with.

Savanna and I were both locked together in an embrace on Michael's long leather couch, the black fabric smooth and cold on my bare legs. I think I was wearing some short skirt that night, but that is probably irrelevant.

In the kitchen, I could hear the shouts of Michael's friends as they screamed dares at others to do something stupid in their own drunken state. They complained about running out of alcohol, and one had suggested to go to the store to get some more, in which another responded with an insult of him being stupid for thinking it was open at “this time of the hour” in a slurred voice.

Then there was a huge cluster of bickering, and the sounds of breaking glass and screaming as the others fought and challenged each other for the last of the remaining toxins.

I don't even know what we had drank, but I know we did drink something. We sat there, unmindful of the yelling in the other room. We just shared each other's love as we sat there, way away from our own conscious minds.

Savanna leaned in and kissed me on my neck. In that movement, I reacted by grabbing her light pink blouse. Everything after that is unclear, though, and the memories of that night are far too fuzzy to even work out properly. All I know, is things would never be the same after that night.

That morning I had heard sobbing. I was sprawled out on the same couch we were on last night with Savanna nowhere to be seen. I looked outside and saw all of Michael's friend's cars were gone, and I thought that they had already left and Michael was somewhere in the house.

It wasn't Michael that was sobbing, however. These were lighter sobs, sobs that were very familiar to me. It was Savanna that was crying, and she was crying in the hallway bathroom that lead to the kitchen.

I immediately got up, and headed to the hallway bathroom. I had a slight headache, but I was ignoring it mostly. Hearing Savanna cry troubled me more than anything.

In the minute I entered the room, I noticed that Savanna's hair was tied back in a messy bun and she was wearing Michael's clothes. I didn't know how that happened, but I didn't really care.

Her face was red and puffy, and the tears came like waterfalls, unstoppable. She stared at me the minute I entered, her chest still heaving as she kept on weeping. Her cellphone was in her right hand, and on the LED screen I could see flashing her father's number and the constant beep signaling the phone on the other line had hung up.

For a minute, I didn't understand. Why was she crying? I was about to ask when it hit me, and I kept my mouth closed, staring at her wide-eyed and looking just as scared as she was. It was then when she pushed me out of her way and began a full-on bolt out of the front door of Michael's house and ran down the street.

I had followed her instantly, and had caught up with her as she had stopped in the middle of the one-way road, her hands on her knees and shaking as she cried and cried.

She stood up straight and I put my hand on her shoulder, starting my reassuring speech I was about to give, but she whipped around and slapped my hand off of her. The tears were still streaming down her face, but now there was an intense fury that flared on her face. Her cheeks were scrunched up, eyebrows slanted down and she spat out her words, screaming so loud her voice cracked.

I don't ever want to see your stupid face again! I hate you! You ruin everything! I don't care about you anymore! Don't follow me!

I stood there, baffled as her gaze locked with mine, her aggressive posture never faultering. I had hoped this was all a joke, but the longer I waited, the more the shock drifted away and reality hit me. There was no kidding tone in which she spoke or showed me in her stances.

The fire that blazed in her green eyes reflected the outward anger that she showed, but there was some inner emotion... Some emotion that I have now figured out was tiredness. She was tired of all this mess, even only two weeks in. She had lost her mother, her father had gone mad, and now everything began to snowball on her with the recent discovery of bone cancer, and our love being crushed by her father's rule. The anger was just a shield. She was angry because she wanted to protect me. I wasn't supposed to be in this mess with her, and I should just forget everything.

And so, I watched her whirl around again and run off down the street, her shirt tucked in and her shoes untied, not looking back.

On Sunday night I had finally gotten back to my apartment. I had decided to stay another night with Michael as a kind of grieving. I knew that Savanna had left some of her stuff at my apartment and was probably retrieving it. I wanted to keep out of her way.

But, I realized that coming back was not the best thing because I wouldn't even know what was about to go down.

I decided to clean the house to get my mind off of Savanna, but as I went to mop the bathroom I came across quite a scene. On the floor was scattered pictures of Savanna's mother; her mom a striking rendition of her daughter, and many of the pictures had Savanna as a young girl sitting on her lap, smiling like not a care in the world.

Where had these come from? Did Savanna accidentally drop them as she was stuffing all the things she left here away? I didn't even know she brought pictures of her mom here.

There was a piece of paper lying face down in the middle of the pile of pictures. I knelt down and picked it up, reading the hastily scratched message on the paper, noticing the dried tear stains that smudged the ink in some places.

It was Savanna's handwriting, and she had written me a letter. It read:

“Dear May,

I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you.

And I'm so sorry I brought you into this... I should have just pushed you away when you asked me out that day... There would be none of this. Dad said it's God's way of telling you and me of our sins and that we should stop this behavior to live a better life.

Do you believe him?

Because I don't know and I don't want to know.

I already miss you, but I can't talk to you ever again. I'm sorry... I'm really, really sorry...


-Sincerely, Savanna.”

I dropped the paper, staring at the porcelain tub that sat before me. The emotions that I felt had almost broke me, but I didn't let them ultimately break me, because I was hopeful. Reading this, I didn't want to believe that this was some way of God testing me, to see if I was really worthy. I doubled over, curling up into a ball on the floor, the note fluttering to the ground beside me.

It was there, with my shirt tucked in and my shoes untied, that I began to cry for the first time in what seemed like forever.

And in that morning months later, when I came to visit Savanna for the last time in the hospital, the nurse said that she had finally gone. She had started to skip her chemotherapy sessions, as I had heard from a couple of her friends that still kept in touch with me.

I walked in to see sheets covered over her, and the nurse standing in a mournful stance. Savanna's father was sitting, back hunched and face in his hands. I knew he was crying, but the quietness in the way that he did so scared me a little. I still haven't a reason why.

I simply stood there in the doorway, watching this little scene. A cardinal outside hit the windowpane of Savanna's room with a sick thump and fell to the ground, its neck broken. I stared at the windowsill for a while, noticing the red feather that remained from the cardinal. There seemed to be some pathetic, mocking tone about this that aggravated me, and I left the room in a hurry.

On the first of March, a couple days before the holiday, I was at Savanna's funeral, dressed in black in mourning. Her body was in an open casket, flowers and pictures of her littered around, and the murmurings of prayers and pity voiced in the background. I could have sworn I saw her breathing in that one minute that I had looked at her body.

I left after that, too choked up to stay behind. I didn't want to hear any reassurance from anybody else, I was convincing myself I was fine.

But I was not fine, and I am still not fine. I sit here on my wooden kitchen chair and stare out the window, towards the sky, and in the sunlight I hope to see God's face and ask him why he let this all happen to me.

There is something in me that says that there was nothing I could do about Savanna's fate. This was probably destined to happen. God, or whoever is in charge up there, knows what they are doing, and I couldn't challenge them to change Savanna's fate.

I sigh and I curl up, still depressed, still angry, and still confused. Outside on the Chicago streets people are having a good time, but I refuse to go out and join my friends in the celebrating on Casimir Pulaski Day.