Fiction

The Diary of Charlie’s Lump

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Art by Korean illustrator Mi-Kyung Choi aka Ensee.

I was born as a single harmless cell on a delightful day when Orion stood in might of the heaven with a belted earth below — such a starry, starry night. Charlie, in her dress lit up by fireflies, sat on the porch with Sarah, her bombastic-10-year-old-best-friend-forever. I heard her reading poetry from the left side of Charlie’s neck. Sarah’s mellifluous voice dripped milk and honey as I fell into a deep slumber.

As I grew, I started falling in love with the smell of Charlie’s hair. I love when she dives into the water and stays there for hours. Sometimes when I catch a glimpse of her in the mirror, I am filled with an array of loving emotions. How can one feel so attached to someone they have never talked to? But that’s the life of a lump.

I kept growing. Charlie’s father, Drake, was the first to notice me while he admired his little daughter’s portrayal of a futuristic world with flying animals and botanical portals. Draked seemed disturbed after he observed me for a bit. Enough to make a trip to the doctor.

I don’t like the smell of hospitals. I don’t think Charlie or her family does either.

Charlie sat on the bed of a bright hospital room reading one of her favourite poetry books — Falling Up by Shel Silverstein — when her Dad broke the news of her having cancer. She seemed confused just like I was. As her dad explained cancer to her with several pauses while her teary-eyed mother, Bella, sat in front of her holding her hands, I could see the pain I was causing them. I didn’t choose to be here. I was born just like her hair or nails are. Except, I am unwanted for the danger to her health.

“I don’t want to die, Mom… Dad.” I heard Charlie say in a soft voice underlined with a heartbreaking tone. I couldn’t be killing this beautiful soul who is yet to see the world and discover the beauty around her. But I was. The only way she lives is for me to die..

I am still here, on her neck, killing her softly a little more everyday. I wish I were born as a lump in cake batter instead. That way, I would have annoyed most, but not caused any harm. Or a yellow lump of clay that kids play with. But here I am, a cancerous lump of filth and agony.

I saw fear and sadness take over Charlie’s face, but more devastating was to see her Mom, Dad, Sarah and everyone who came to see Charlie. Somedays they were less hopeful than the others. Somedays they seemed happier than ever before. Somedays I saw them weeping for hours at stretch when Charlie was asleep. I don’t get much sleep since that day. The guilt won’t let me sleep. But should I be guilty even though I did not intend this. Am I guilty for not taking my own life to save hers? But I will still be taking a life. Hers or mine.

Everyone loves Charlie. Nobody even knows me. My death will only bring joy while hers will kill not just me but a little bit of everyone who cares about her. And a lot of people do just as much as I do, if not more. My heart breaks everyday and sometimes multiple times in a day.

I tried to kill myself last night because I have seen enough. I didn’t know how to. It has been two years. I can’t smell Charlie’s hair anymore. How can you harm someone you love so much? But I have. She’s pale. She doesn’t smile a lot. She doesn’t even read poetry anymore. Only Sarah does sometimes. Or Drake. I wish to see her happy but I reckon I never will.

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