If We Are But A Moment
by True Dabill

Runestone, volume 6

If We Are But A Moment
by True Dabill

Runestone, volume 6

The doctor told us. No euphemisms. No build-up. He will die. We stared back at him and saw the words could not be taken back. We left the doctor, our parents, and his parents to say good-bye. 

The hospital room had the atmosphere of a movie theatre: completely dark except for the soft glow of a screen. We surrounded our friend’s bed. We looked unto him and saw his condition all over again. We saw the corded-net that covered his bald head like a hairnet. We saw the stubborn patch of acne that bloomed between his eyebrows. We saw his ribs. Our eyes followed the wires attached to his fingers and chest and the tubes that looped out of his nostrils and mouth to their humming machines.  

We touched him: a shoulder, an elbow, an arm, leg, or hand. We held him like a talisman. We cried as if our tears could rejuvenate him and bring him life. One of those childhood fantasies. We started our remembrances and good-byes but we stopped. We couldn’t do it; we were laughing.

On the screen was a talking teddy-bear and Mark Wahlberg with cocaine powdered noses. It was the movie Ted. His mom had met our eyes before going in and said: “We just thought: what’s the use?” 

The scratch of the chain-link of a backstop on our fingers. Our heads upturned to watch whoever dared to climb to the top where the fence rusted and covered hands in orange-brown dust. We shot the shit about movies and chucked a football around. 

“We’re seeing Ted tonight. You comin’?” one of us said and looked to Nick. Hair fell in his eyes, and he scratched at his soccer uniform. 

“I don’t think my parents would let me,” he said.

“Well, shit. Family Guy’s worse and you watch that,” one of us said back. 

“Barely. It’s too hot,” he said. He walked towards the dug-out and we followed. In the shade, away from the molten June sun, we sat, fought, cursed, and talked in a place where other kids hid away their cigarette packs. They sat on the ceiling beams hanging over all our heads. 

Ted, the coked-out teddy bear, was fighting with a Chinese guy’s duck named James Franco. Ted held his paws out and waved them in little orbits. The duck’s webbed feet ran in place until it shot off in a full duck-sprint at Ted. We looked from the screen to Nick, back and forth, for a reaction. We laughed because we were crying; we cried because we were laughing. We didn’t know. Even though he had the advantage, the duck overwhelmed Ted and started to peck at his eyes. We clung to each other as we laughed and rocked back and forth as we cried. Ted lost to the duck but even as the scene ended and the room blackened briefly, we kept laughing. 

We were together on our feet with hair on our heads one last time. After we tumbled down the stairs and almost broke everything, one of our moms pushed us out the door and into the late-November cold. We ran routes under the orange glow of the street lights. We tackled each other onto the hard lawn. We also laid on the trailer bed, suspended off the ground, closer to the stars, and our shoulders lined up side-by-side. Our eyes trained on the same night sky. We didn’t say love but we felt it. 

We said good-bye and we lived.

True Dabill

University of St. Thomas

True Dabill is a writer from Minneapolis. He is a senior at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

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