For this assignment, we were to write a dialogue between the two characters in the photograph below. In response to several questions: yes, the photo was assigned. I did not choose it.
He stared through her, expressionless.
She continued. “This place seemed so alive, so magical.” She glanced around them at the now dreary landscape. Dead leaves lay scattered round them and a light fog shrouded the woods. “Southern winters are awfully drab.”
Still he failed to respond.
“Thanks for the bracelets. They’re really versatile. They were a good choice.” She smiled at him, leaning forward to catch his eye. “You’re a great brother. And I want you to remember that.”
He looked away. “Look, I came here to get away from people, not to be accosted by them.”
“Do I bother you?” Her face fell.
“Yes. No.” He stopped. “Oh Cassie.” The boy’s lip trembled and the flood of carefully veiled emotion threatened to break loose. But he held it in check.
“It’s gonna be ok,” she whispered.
“How can you say that?” His voice rose and he turned to meet her eyes for the first time. “How can you possibly say that while the cancer eats away at your body? Six months! They gave you six months. Nothing is right.” His voice trailed. “Not even the weather. Who calls this Christmas weather anyway?”
“It may not be Christmas weather, but it’s not so bad.” She smiled again. “In fact, I’d go so far as to call seventy degrees good weather.”
“How can you smile?” He demanded.
“I don’t always smile. I cry too. Some days my heart aches with the weight of this goodbye—but every day is a gift, you know. I have to celebrate what I have.”
“But you’re dying!” He spat out the ugly words.
“I know.” Her voice sounded low and quiet. “I think that if I lived in the goodbye, it might kill me before I die.”
“I’m sorry, Cas. I didn’t mean to say it like that.”
“That’s ok. It’s true.” She sighed. “We’ve just got to trust that—”
“Trust who?” He interrupted bitterly. “God? He’s let other people die before. Remember Loubencia?”
“Jason, don’t say that.”
“Well he has.”
“Jesus died too, you know. It’s not like he doesn’t know how it feels,” she reminded him. After a pause, she murmured reverently, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
They both sat in silent contemplation.
“Remember those C. S. Lewis sonnets I gave you?” She asked finally.
“I think you should read them again. He’s right—anger’s the anesthetic of the mind, it won’t help you. It will only numb you.”
“I have a feeling,” she said, more to herself than to him, “I have a feeling that we’re more like Lewis’s bee than we’d like to admit—booming “against the window pane for hours thinking that the way to reach the laden flowers.” Her very life seemed to slip into the recitation, “We catch her in a handkerchief (who knows what rage she feels, what terror, what despair? And shake her out –and gaily out she goes where quivering flowers and thick in summer air, to drink their hearts.”
“But left to her own will, she would have died upon the window sill.” Jason finished the quote for her.
“Maybe it’s like that,” she mused. “A severe mercy. And this is only the despair of the handkerchief.”
“I wish He’d shake us out and be done with it,” Jason remarked. “’Cause this hurts.”
“Like the dickens,” Cassie agreed with a wry smile.
“Do you like my new wig?” She brightened. “It was a Christmas gift from mom.”
For the first time that evening, he smiled too. “Yeah, it’s a definite improvement over that red one.”
“I don’t know.” She laughed, “I kind of liked the red.”
“Oh! That was horrible. It didn’t look anything like you.”
For a moment, she looked as if she might give him a playful shove. But she only said, “They’re making hot chocolate inside. You want to walk in with me? I’m feeling pretty tired.”
He rose and offered her his hand. She grasped it stood beside him.
“Let’s celebrate life.”