By Max Krusiewicz

Cecilia paced back and forth outside the hospital. Everything was extremely dark, and she shivered impatiently. She bumped into a trash can. Shadows danced in front of Cecilia’s face. Shadows of doubt and sadness. Shadows of impatience and insecurity. Cecilia flinched as leaves brushed against her leg.

She hated fall because of the wind and the leaves; everything felt hectic, out of her control. She licked her chapped lips and groped around for a bench to sit on. Finally, she found one and collapsed breathlessly. The wind howled and gnashed its teeth at the girl, as she waited, frozen. Cecilia hated hospitals; they were overused and smelled like death, or like a funeral home drenched in alcohol.

So, Cecilia was outside waiting, for she was quite good at waiting. Sometimes she would become so wrapped up in her thoughts that she would fall asleep. Right now though, Cecilia was wide awake, tapping her foot across the ground to the melody of her favorite piano song.

Whenever Cecilia thought for too long or felt too separated from the world around her, she would find refuge in the cool, crisp keys of a piano. The sounds a piano made were peaceful. Her foot tapped a staccato furiously against the uneven ground. Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap! Cecilia leaned back and sighed letting her head face the open sky; she opened her mouth and tasted the wind.

“Cece!” The girl snapped her head forward. Her mom loved to sneak up on her.

“They’re ready for you.” Cecilia could practically hear the smile on her mom’s face. Cecilia stood up abruptly.

“I’m ready.” Her mom squeezed Cecilia’s hand and did not let go. They shuffled into the hospital cautiously. Cecilia dropped her mom’s hand. She despised the feeling of holding hands with her mom in public. It made her feel so stupid.

A doctor, Cecilia assumed, called out to her and her mom.

“Cecilia? Right this way.” So, Cecilia followed her mom’s footsteps into a dark room.

Once inside, Cecilia sat down and tapped her leg anxiously in a moderato. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. With a deep breath, she spoke.

“Is it good news?” The shadows flickered capriciously.

The doctor leaned in towards Cecilia.; his clothes reeked of sterile hand sanitizer, which made Cecilia’s nose wrinkle. The girl’s heart pounded intensely, like an allegro. Pitter patter, pitter patter.

“Yes, Cecilia. It’s very good.” Cecilia’s heart fluttered and seemed to be bursting out of her chest. She could hear her mom shed joyful tears a few feet away. Cecilia looked at where the doctor was.

“So, er, when do we get to do this?”

The girl’s squirming mom could not hold in her excitement.

“Right now, baby! Right now! Cece, it’s–well, it’s a miracle!” She grasped her daughter’s hand and pressed her lips to her child’s moist forehead, which was glistening with sweat.

Cecilia protested. “There’s a chance it won’t work.”

The doctor interjected. “But there’s a greater chance it will.”

Cecilia slowly smiled and the shadows seemed to fade. She stood up shakily. “Then let’s do this thing!”


Fifteen minutes later, Cecilia was injected with a dose of anesthesia, and her head gently fell against a soft pillow.


Cecilia’s eyes flickered open. She glanced around the stark white room filled with doctors in turquoise scrubs detoxifying smooth cabinets. To the side, a woman tearfully observed her with a look Cecilia could never have imagined. The woman had brown hair that looked as if birds were living in it. She had hazel eyes that seemed to sparkle at the girl like she imagined a star might have. A slow smile crept on her face as she noticed Cecilia’s expression.

“Mom.” She whispered. Her mom shrieked with excitement, threw her hands in the air, and rushed over to her daughter. They both burst into tears, grabbing and hugging one another. The mom grabbed her child’s face and searched her eyes.

“Your eyes are beautiful, Cecilia.”

Cecilia forced out a mirthful sob. “You’re beautiful, mom. I love you. I love you so much.” She embraced her mom again, analyzing this moment, taking a mental picture that would last forever. Her mom tenderly took Cecilia’s hands and put them in her own. “I love you, too, Cece.”

They sauntered out of the hospital arm-in-arm into the colorful street where the girl pointed out all of the vivid shapes with bubbly giggles. The browning leaves danced in the front of the vibrant, setting sun. The shadows had disappeared, and Cecilia’s eyes finally experienced the radiant world around her.

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