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The next morning Noah woke up exhausted. Every part of his body that could hurt did hurt. A groan escaped his mouth as he attempted to sit up. Noah couldn't understand how he could feel so tired still. He had gone to sleep not even an hour after he had gotten home and according to his clock, he had slept over twelve hours.
"Darn it." He was supposed to meet Glenn in less than forty-five minutes, and the hospital was at least twenty minutes away. Forcing himself out of bed, Noah quickly, well as fast as he could manage, got ready to leave.
"Mom!" He yelled shoving his feet into his shoes. "Mom!"
"What?! What's wrong?!" His mother came running into the kitchen. Her eyes were wide with panic. Immediately he felt horrible for scaring her.
"Uh...Nothing I was just hoping you could give me a ride to the hospital," he mumbled embarrassed. Her eyes skimmed over him searching for any indication that something was wrong.
"Why? Are you feeling sick?" Worry still evident in her voice.
"No, not any more than usual. Actually, I am supposed to meet a friend," he said with a shrug.His mother smiled from ear to ear. It wasn't often Noah mentioned friends or wanted to go out.
"The one you were hanging out with yesterday?" she asked sounding like a giddy school girl. Noah's mom had been really upset yesterday when she couldn't find him at the hospital, but the moment he mentioned that he had been out with a friend, she seemed to forget her anger completely. The entire car ride home she had grilled him for details.
"Yeah. You don't mind do you?" He already knew she wouldn't, but felt the need to ask anyway.
Glenn was already sitting outside in the hospital courtyard when Noah and his mother pulled up. His camera was sitting on the table next to him.
"Thanks, Mom," Noah said getting out of the car. But instead of driving off, she looked out the open passenger window.
"Glenn is it?"
"Yes ma'am," Glenn politely responded. Trying to hide his embarrassment for what he knew was coming next, Noah suddenly became very interested in his shoes.
"Call me, Carol. Ma'am makes me feel so old." That's because you are old, Noah thought, rolling his eyes. "Anyway, my Noah has a tendency to over exert himself. So if you wouldn't mind keeping the physical activity to a minimum, I would really appreciate it." Even though he knew she meant well, Noah couldn't prevent the blush that crept up on his face.
"Of course. I couldn't manage too much even if I wanted to," he said pointing to a nearby oxygen tank resting in a nifty little cart.
"Oh. Okay, well you boys have fun and take care," she said before driving off.
"I am so sorry," Noah told Glenn once his mother's car was out of sight.
"For what? Your mom seems cool." Was he serious? His mom was nowhere near cool. She was way too overprotective. Even before he had gotten sick, she had been like that. Now it was just that much worse.
"Yeah, okay," Noah said, his words dripping with sarcasm. "What's with the tank?"
"Oh, that. Well, apparently my useless lungs have decided to become even more useless." Again Glenn's calm demeanor had Noah wondering where this guy came from.
"Is that all? Are you sure you're up for this?" Even as he spoke the words, he felt disappointment well up inside of him. "I mean we could al--"
"Uh-uh, you are not getting out of this. I'm fine. Now, let's go."
"The park really?" Noah asked in disbelief as they both exited the bus. Seriously neither of them were in any shape to play at the park.
"Yeah, it's one of the best places for people watching."
"You do realize that sounds like something a stalker might say?" Noah pointed out grinning. Glenn chuckled before sitting on a nearby bench.
"Hardy, har, har. Aren't you a barrel of laughs?" For the fourth time today he put the oxygen mask to his nose and inhaled a couple of times deeply before hanging it back on the tank.
"Why don't you just wear it, if it makes it easier for you to breath?" Was he worried what people would think? He didn't seem like the type that would. Not that Noah had known him for very long.
"Cause it's flavorless." Noah burst out laughing.
"Since when does air have flavor?" he managed to ask between fits of laughter.
"Since always. Now, look around and tell me is there anything here that catches your eye?" Noah glanced around the park. Nothing seemed very special or super meaningful. The swing set wasn't very old but had the definite sign of wear and tear, and the playground itself looked pretty much like every other playground he had seen. There were no kids at the park, but it was a school day so no big surprise there.
"The only thing that stands out is those two over there sucking face," he said pointing to a young couple on the other side of the park partaking in some serious PDA.
"See you getting it. That right there is an amazing part of living life." Glenn picked up his camera and took a picture of the couple, who had finally come up for air.
"I didn't mean it like that, and playing spit-swap with someone is not what I call amazing. More like disgusting," He scoffed. Glenn chuckled and shook his head.
"It's young love at its finest. Well maybe not its finest, but you get what I mean. Have you ever even kissed a girl?" he questioned the younger boy, who was still making faces. Noah blushed but didn't answer. "You haven't, have you?"
"Well, not exactly," Noah replied. "Have you?" Glenn leaned back against the bench.
"Once, but it didn't really count. I am pretty sure it was a pity kiss." For the first time, Glenn appeared to be sad. "You know it's getting pretty late, and I have an appointment with my pulmonologist in the morning." Unsure of what else to say, Noah quietly agreed with him.
The bus ride home was depressing, and it didn't seem right to Noah, to see Glenn so unhappy. Nothing seemed to ever get him down. It made Noah realize, no matter how determined Glenn was to live his life the grief of everything he would never experience was still there. He wasn't ready to die any more than Noah was.
"I have been meaning to ask you," he started. "What's with the old Polaroid camera? You know there is this new fangled invention called a cell phone," he said pulling out his phone and showing it to his friend. "It takes pictures, and even lets you edit them." This earned him a smile.
"Yeah, I have one of those too, but nothing beats the nostalgia of a good old Polaroid picture. Plus, editing is like saving a fake memory, and then what's the point in saving it?"
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