2 of 50 Songs and Chapters Dedicated to the Friend I Lost Too Soon
Song: "You got your passion, you got your pride, but don't you know only fools are satisfied?"
I wonder if other people have died in this very room, or if I would be the first.
Regardless, the beeping of the heart machine thing was starting to get old. It's never exactly been music to my ears, but after sitting on my ass in this far-too-illuminated room for how gloomy and dark it feels, every beep was another shout that mocked me for my life that'd be so short-lived.
You're another heartbeat closer to death!
You're another heartbeat closer to death!
You're another heartbeat closer to death!
I could hear it echoing in the back of my head, and when my parents would come in every hour apologizing that they couldn't get me what I wanted, that made the reminder double in agony despite them meaning well.
After all, having a last wish meant that an end was coming. Yeah, it means that my parents wanted to make it a good and peaceful one, but that doesn't change that the end was in sight.
Part of me wishes that they'd act normal. I'd rather die remembering my parents the way they were everyday of my life. Not pushy for good things like they are now, but the kind that went with the flow. The kind that said "oh well" when things were sucky and inconvenient.
I get it. This isn't one of those things any human being with feelings could react with an "oh well" and call it done, but I still wished it in secret.
I tried to block it all out -- that my parents were panicking through their sleepless nights and that my doctors at this point were probably just waiting for me to die so they didn't have to worry about me anymore -- but so far all that's gotten me is the one useless fact that there are 5,225 tiles on the ceiling.
5,224 and a half technically, because one wall's structure cut a ceiling tile into a triangle instead of a square.
I started to accept that that's the last thing that'd ever pass through my mind. That, and the stupidly yet devilishly handsome face of Jewee Gray Kyler, season 6 out of 10 of Pulseless Heart, in low quality on the television -- the closest I'd ever be to him, officialized.
Until God said otherwise without warning or a heads up.
"You rang, Princess?" Jewee questioned, poking his head into my doorway, casually, as if we saw each other everyday since we were toddlers.
At the snap of the fingers, I felt self conscious for the first time in a long time. Nobody expected you to look hot and sexy while you were sitting in a hospital, and that's how I've trudged along these days, knowing that was true, but before him -- the human being who resembled an angel if he really wasn't an actual one, I knew I couldn't compare.
Maybe this wasn't such a good idea.
"Sorta?" I answered, frantically combing my fingers through my hair. I refused to look at him, because I thought that that could prevent me from becoming flustered, and in the mean time I scanned the area for something I could use as a mirror.
Nothing. Of course there was nothing. Why would I expect there to be something? Does it matter, anyway?
I took a deep breath. "Look, I'm sorry if I'm wasting your time. I'm sure you're a busy person and it's super sweet of you to come here for me. I hope it's not a burden on you."
He smiled, but not the way he did when he was playing a role in the movies. It was a real smile. A smile that was all his. "No it's not at all, Miss--," he trailed off, awaiting me to fill in the blank.
Who the heck am I again?
"Sh-shyne. Er-- Ikari. Jaiva Shyne Ikari Lane." I had to over pronounce every piece just so I could get it out correctly, and I facepalmed for ruining a first reputation that was already bound to go sideways. "Just call me Jaiva. Sorry. My name is super long and ridiculous."
"Jaiva Shyne Ikari Lane. It's beautiful," he repeated what I told him, but much more fluent and smooth, as he helped himself to a seat near to my bed. "I'm Jewee. Jewee Gray Kyler."
I laughed at that. "I know who you are," I told him, pointing up at the screen where his face was shining bright. He was a pleasantly humble person, come to find out. "I mean, I don't know you know you obviously, but I know you like a lot of people do."
"Right," he giggled shyly, looking down to the converse on his feet, one purple and the other yellow. As always, his socks were mismatched, but the shoes were a new thing I didn't know he did. For having what people would call the 'abnormal' that he had in him, he was very timid about carrying conversation. Not near as chaotic as his vibe.
He could be if he wanted to be, I think, but right now he didn't know me and needed the time to warm up.
I found it cute, but it wasn't necessarily a good thing for us because social skills wasn't a strength of mine either.
The air was tight and a little awkward, but my stomach was swarming with butterflies. This was my big time crush for years, and he had no idea who I was. Funny how that works.
"I'm sorry I didn't show up sooner," he apologized to break the quiet between us, and he didn't seem to like his voice very much when he heard it on the screen, so he purposely cut into that too. It kinda hurt to see him dislike what so many people loved that I forgot I was dying and that that was the reason he was here in the first place.
"No, that's fine. I didn't think you'd come," I admitted, biting my bottom lip. I wasn't happy with how that came out, and I made an attempt to fix it. "You're not obligated to be here or anything. Like I said, you're busy I'm sure--."
"Not so much right now, to be honest. I'm not working on any projects right now so I started reading your book on the plane over. I'm about halfway through. I'm sorry for your loss, Jaiva, but you really do have a beautiful gift when it comes to words. It probably doesn't make you feel any better but I had to say it."
I choked. "You're reading my book?" I exclaimed, sitting up straighter.
Jewee cocked his head to the side, evidently confused. "Well, yeah. If we're going to be collaborating then I'm going to have to know the context of your story, wouldn't I? I'd want to have it put out in the world in the best way I can."
My eyes widened, nearly falling right out of their sockets if they didn't. "Is that already set in stone? Are you going to be illustrating--? You're going to illustrate my story? It's gonna get published?"
"Of course it is and why wouldn't I? I'd love to support a new writer with a strong voice like yours."
"It can't be that good that someone like you would just agree to do such a thing. I've been turned down by literary agents so many times. I can't even manage to develop a fanbase online and all my content on there is free. It looks like what I've needed this whole time is a pity background story."
The man shook his head, and out came the click of his tongue three consecutive times. "Don't mistake fame for talent, Jaiva. There's people in this world that are famous and there are people in this world that are talented. Some are both but a lot of the time it isn't that way. And besides, chasing for more is how you get more. You've been taking the effort because you weren't satisfied with what you had. You knew somewhere in you you could do more. I know you did."
I stuck out my tongue as a joke. "We'll see whether or not the book takes off after it's published, and then I'll decided whether or not to believe you."
"Wow. Someone has high standards," he joked back, and we laughed together until we fell back into a mute. Then, he looked up at me in wonder. "I did mean to ask though, why the pseudonym? Cyrus Calamba is the name under your work -- a guy's name. It is common people use fictional names, yeah, sure, but a lot of people like to bask in the spotlight of it all. Why don't you? You have the chance for the whole world to know your name right here, and you don't take it."
I furrowed my eyebrows. I knew the reason why exactly, but I've never had to put it in words before and making sense of my thoughts well enough it can be spoken felt like translating one language to another.
I decided to wing it.
"I don't think I'd be good at that kind of life. Heck, I worked for a Walmart in a really tiny town and I'd walk around after my shift and everyone knows my name. I hated it so much I stopped wearing my badge to work even if I could very easily get fired.
"The idea of people knowing my name and face is hard for me to imagine. The idea of having a life like yours is too much to imagine. I always wonder how you do that, even if I was still another of the millions that do the exact same thing."
Jewee scratched the back of his head. "It does suck sometimes. It can be hard, but I always think to myself 'you always want what you don't have' and I live with it, or sometimes I completely forget about it to be honest. Looks like you beat the system. You know what you want. That's good."
"I can kinda thank you for that," I muttered under my breath burying my head into my hands. Looking at him was hurting my eyes, he was such a ray of sunshine, and I could feel a burn settling into my cheeks.
"My friend that passed away -- Aiden, he admired you a lot for your roles in movies and films, and I do too. You do amazing in those I don't see how you can be disliked by anyone, but my most favorite projects of yours are other things. Your children's books, the times you directed an episode or a film, your paintings -- things like that and I realized, people don't really have to see us to make someone happy. Besides, acting isn't my strong suite so I couldn't if I wanted."
"Don't tell me a show like Pulseless Heart with so much blood and gore was yours and his comfort show," he giggled before continuing, especially when he saw my face scrunch up that basically pushed his own words back into his mouth.
It was a comfort show for a lot of people. We might be insane, but most of his fans are.
"No, seriously-- Aw, you're so nice, really. I'm so flattered that you appreciate all aspects of my work, and if you did want to act I'm sure you could learn to. It's never too late," he winked, a big grin on his face from ear to ear. It stayed with his expression too when a knock hit the door gently, five times in a row, as he turned to look at the source. He then took a peek down at his watch and back at the door again.
"I'm gonna go get everything set up with the publishing company so you don't have to worry about anything, alright?" He explained, standing up and widening the space between us. "We'll talk some more in a bit."
I nodded. My eyes followed him as he left, and as the door was opened and near to shutting, I already missed him despite the red cheeks and the awkward conversation.
But I did get a little more out of him -- words that I didn't expect I'd hear in general, but especially when it came from him. It was in the quietest whisper, but I heard it correctly. I'm sure of it.
"You're a good person, I do think. I'm going to pray you're not going to die anytime soon. I'm going to pray that you'll live long enough to see yourself thrive, Jaiva Shyne. Don't pass just yet," he let out shakily, and the lock hit the latch, while he disappeared back into the hallway.
My heart melted.
He was too good for this world, exactly as I thought. The first meeting is all it took to know.
A first meeting I didn't think I'd ever have.