a dreadful __________

It seemed easiest to ask Armin. He was different, he was human at least in some ways, he was more than likely a little more prone to human sicknesses than any of us. I could have asked Eoghan or Alexis, they’ve both been alive so long that they must have known too but I thought Armin might have the more human answer to the question.

Cyrille had talked about chemotherapy and I didn’t know what it was. He hadn’t seemed to want to go in details about it and it seemed honestly bad in its own way but I didn’t ask. I could have looked online but there are so many different things out there that I don’t always know which one I’m supposed to believe. Armin really was my best option.

It was quiet in the library, a calm Monday morning. Usually Mondays did have a tendency for being a little rushed when people seemed to realize that they’d forgotten to get something or other during the week. I know a lot of libraries are opened during the weekends, at least that’s what I read online and I know this isn’t the case for ours so I guess it makes sense that we have small rush hours.

Today was different and it was quiet, might have been because summer wasn’t over quiet yet but school was freshly back in session. There had been more people over the summer.

“Armin?” He looks up from the book he’s been reading, it’s so quiet in here and most books have already been put away that reading doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. I know Agni is somewhere out there, probably just somewhat lazing in the patches of sun and Cyrille said he had to work this morning.

“Something I can help you with, Mira?” He bookmarks his page and closes the book gently, setting it down. I sit not far from him, on the counter since I know it can hold my weight. I don’t much like the chairs behind the counter, they’re uncomfortable.

“We visited Cyrille’s home this weekend and his sister Magali played music for us but she looked tired and he said something about chemotherapy and what’s chemotherapy?” Not my brightest formulation but I suppose it would have to do. The desire to ask more about what it was supposed to be has haunted me until now, I could be forgiven.

He frowned and pushed the book he’d been reading away, turned his chair a bit more so he could face me. His voice was low but calm, he chose his words carefully and I assume he is because other words might just not have made any sense to me since medical terms in French are just one of those things I don’t know a thing about just yet.

When he explained that chemotherapy was usually a treatment for cancer, something in me sort of froze. That wasn’t right, though I wasn’t sure why I’d reacted this way. It was when he told me what cancer could be and what it did to the human body that I think my mind connected with the coldness of my body and I know something must have broken.

We hadn’t talked much to Magali or spent a whole lot of time with her but I could tell how much she meant to Cyrille and how dearly he loved her. That she might be taken away by this cancer only made it all the clearer that humans were fragile, that they weren’t made to last and it made me want to start clinging to Armin. He was human, though Eoghan said that it was likely now his gift had been handed down by his biological father. So maybe he would live longer than most humans but no where near as long as any of us. I don’t want to lose him.

Cyrille stepped into the library just an hour or so before we prepared to close it up for the evening. He was bright eyed, his smile was contagious though I tried to fight it, I didn’t want to fight. I was still thinking about how dreadful it would be if the chemotherapy didn’t know what it was supposed to. Who would he turn to if his sister was no longer with him to support him, with him so they could spend time together?

Eventually I did manage to let it be buried under other memories. It wasn’t buried deep but it was mostly out of my mind so I could appreciate spending time with him and Agni while we had that much. With the memory buried somewhat, I could also stop thinking that maybe befriending someone whose body would rot before too long was a terrible idea. I didn’t want to think that, I wanted to spend time with him. He was my friend, our friend and that was what was important. We had to be there for him if bad things ever were to happen in his family.

As we stepped outside and Armin locked the front door, Cyrille stopped the both of us at the bottom of the steps and he pulled out two packages from the bag he carried. We each were handed one and I know I usually would have torn it open to know what was inside but I was baffled more than anything else. I’d never really received any gift before and this was new. Agni looked at the package a moment himself before he was looking up, absolutely puzzled, to our friend who only laughed. “Go on, open them. I know it’s early in the season but when I saw them I thought they were perfect for the two of you.”

So Agni opened his first while I was still puzzling out this warm sensation I felt in my stomach at the idea of receiving a gift. Out of it, he pulled a long black scarf with a few stripes all on one side, in various shades of red. It was fitting for him, really. With the scarf came some matching gloves, early but sweet. It was when he turned his gaze to me, curious and wanting to see my own reaction that I finally opened my own gift. Much like Agni’s own, a black scarf and gloves though the stripes on mine were blue.

“Thank you, Cyrille. I think this is the first time we’ve ever really been given gifts like this before. They’re beautiful.” Of course they were beautiful, I’d wear them for as long as I could once the weather was cold enough to require them and I know it would be. I’d lived through the last winter and other winters before that, after all.

These would keep us more than warm and the idea warmed me a little more.

“I’m glad you guys like it. I swear, I saw them in the display and I had to buy them. It made me last for work but I don’t care, it was worth it.”

Of course I had to roll my eyes at him though I didn’t say anything about his being late for work. He’s an adult, like we’ll be eventually and we have to keep track of our own lives and make sure we keep our jobs, it wouldn’t do to have no jobs, money can’t be saved without a job and gifts cannot be offered without saved money. I honestly wish there was no money in the world but I can’t imagine things would work out so well with people just being honest and working out exchange of goods. I suppose I’m a bit of a dreamer as far as that’s concerned.

“Gotta head home, Magali is expecting me for supper. I’ll see you two tomorrow, all right? Don’t forget to pack up clothes for Wednesday!” With that he was wandering off, jogging away towards his bus stop. Wednesday couldn’t come quickly enough. Eoghan had accepted the idea of our sleep over and I was looking forward to that more than I realized, I think.

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