Author’s Note: This is the third story written from a series of short stories called “Outside”. Which you can read more here. This story is fictional but I can relate to my character when some in their 70s try to compare the experience with mine, it’s not the same.
Staying up to watch the sunrise
“When I was your age…”
My uncle drones about his endless energy. How he and his friends at the time would stay up all night to watch the sunrise.
Meanwhile, I lie in my bed almost forced to listen to his stories.
“You’re lucky you’re so young” he continues.
I know in some weirded out version of reality that he has of me, of the…life I’m living. His stories help.
But they don’t.
I may be young in age, but I’ve never gotten the “youth” he so rapturously talks about.
My first “stint” in a hospital happened when I was 8.
I had to skip grade 3 as I was in and out of the hospital that year.
The next few years weren’t much better but at least I could go to school.
I’m 16 now, and this boundless energy he talks about is something I can only imagine.
I go to bed at eight on the dot every evening. This isn’t just because I get tired easily at night, it’s because if I stay up later, I pay for it, my body makes me pay for it – I lose control of my legs, migraines start, a late night pretty much equals a night full of vomiting.
* * * *
The Seniors’ Ball
“Serena, will you with me to the senior’s ball next week?” Matt, the most popular senior in my high school, asks me.
Knowing what I just mentioned that a late night has its price, what do you think my answer would be?
I decide to go. What?! you ask, let me put this in perspective, I’m 16 and like any other 16-year-old fitting in is important to me. At least I can appear I’m a normal 16. Although the price on my body will have to be paid later that evening. It will be worth it. I think.
I go to the ball, the night was wonderful. But like I said now I have to pay the price. My legs just make it to the bed. I lie curled up in a ball. If I don’t move the world will stop spinning, I convince myself. I glance at my bedside clock, it’s 3 am. I haven’t gotten to sleep. I’ve just been lying here, still in the fetal position waiting for this, whatever it is to pass. My limbs are throbbing.
Looking from the outside, I can imagine you think: Why would anyone knowingly do that to themselves?
Again, in a bid to appear normal; to fit in, this is my price.
“I’ve got arthritis now too, Serena,” my uncle of 72 says.
At least my uncle got to have an average experience of being young, I have never stayed up to watch the sunrise, I’m afraid if I even tried, the price certainly wouldn’t be worth it.
Author’s Note: In Serena’s story, we see a glimpse of the impact a medical condition has on a teen. It is a very different experience of someone 3 or 4 times her age.