A Piece of You, Planted With Me Part 2


Designed in Canva

“I’m taking the car this morning!” He yelled to whoever was listening, not reciprocating for whoever responded back. For he was already out the door, a new pep in his step and the ghost of his smile on his face.  


Today was the day he would be seeing Anabelle.  


For the first time in 6 years.  


Eli hadn’t been counting but somehow lying awake at night wondering how his meeting would go over with Anabelle was enough to put the pieces together. It had been 6 years since he had talked to her. 6 years since he was able to admire her, listening to her stories.  


What if she hates him?  


The thought popped in his head like a weed yet to be pruned. Then it permeated. He wished he could’ve cut it sooner. Now his brain was more of a garden of worry and regret rather than a bundle of blissful nerves.  


There could be many reasons as to why she could hate him. He didn’t keep in contact when they attended different schools and didn’t continue to reach out. He couldn’t even bring himself to reply back to her letter, let alone show up. His stomach churned at the possibilities.

It was about time he put on the radio.  




He stood outside of Saint Francis General Hospital, clamping his hands in and out like a heartbeat. He could hear his heart pounding inside of his chest, his ears going numb then back to perfect condition once again. His hands were starting to freeze up seeing the large glass sliding doors of the hospital, being among the people walking towards them. It felt like he was entering a school, except the only thing he had on his body being his underwear.  


She was probably the same old Anabelle he knew. Same brown eyes and wildly curly brown hair. It was all the same. He had to keep reminding himself of it because if he didn’t, he would fear the person he would see walking into the hospital would be a completely different version.

Hateful. Eyes full of anger.  


“Elias? Is that you?”  


His heart dropped as he turned to see Mrs. Levie—only Mrs. Levie thankfully, beginning to rise from the lobby chair she was occupying.  


Eli regained his composure trying not to look like a deer in headlights as he replied, “In the flesh,” though he cringed when he said it. He always had a weird fluctuation in his voice when he talked to adults. Things he would never normally say to them just came out of him like an automated response machine.  


He was sure Anabelle would have something to say about it, since he had known her mother for quite some time. Anabelle. Another strike to his nerves spiked into his chest. And he was doing so well not being anxious over meeting her.  


“How have you been,” Mrs. Levie spoke to him, bringing him out of his thoughts once more as the two of them began to walk. 


“I’ve been good. Hockey season started again.”  


Mrs. Levie flashed a look of realization, her mouth in the shape of an ‘o’ as she nodded. “I forgot you did that!” She exclaimed with a toothy smile. “Won any games so far?”  


“Yeah, a couple against some teams in the county, if we keep up our momentum we could make it to regionals,” he explained to her as they walked into an empty elevator.  


“With your skater legs I think you could. You were always talented as a kid,” She flattered him as she pressed one of the buttons to close the doors and begin their descent upwards.  


“Thank you, Mrs. Levie,” he spoke, his voice lighter than usual, filled with a sense of bashfulness at the compliment.

 He sighed, looking up at the elevator’s small ceiling. It felt good to speak to someone he knew in his past, like an old memory came to life.

Mrs. Levie was like that—a walking memory. She hadn’t aged in all the years he hadn’t seen her, hair still as black as it was when he was a child, her smile and teeth the same as he remembered it to be all those years ago. One tooth slightly yellower than the rest. He hadn’t noticed until Anabelle told him one day. Told him that it was a fake. She then explained the story behind it too, how when Mrs. Levie was a kid, she knocked it out while playing a game of baseball and had it replaced. After years of extensive whitening treatment in her teens, her one tooth never quite brightened in color.

Eli remembered laughing so hard in the back of their SUV that when Mrs. Levie turned around and asked what was so funny, he couldn’t stop replaying the sight of her tooth ripped from her mouth, his mind playing it over and over in a torturing slow-motion.

“Excited to see her?”  


‘Hm?” He responded without paying attention, then felt bad about it.  


He looked back at Mrs. Levie, a smirk on her face. He saw the beginning of her teeth, the discolored one standing out a bit more than the others. 


“You were smiling so I was just wondering what it was about,” she confessed.  


Huh. He hadn’t realized he had been smiling.  


The elevator made a dull dinging noise as it jerked to a stop.  


“We’re here.”  


His stomach jumped for the twentieth time that day. As he peered down the dingy white hallway, he hoped that something would force him to leave. Wished now more than ever that his mother would call him, annoyingly enough, ask him for help with an urgent matter, that he needed to be home right away.

But there was no avoiding this, he was sure of it. He wished there was a trash can he could throw up in, empty out all of his ‘what ifs’ in a single blow. He wished it were that easy.  


Then he rounded the hallway, and he began to pay attention to the nurses, doctors, and the patients. He wasn’t sure what wing he was in, but they all seemed to be healthy—all kids too. Pediatric wing? Maybe. He wasn’t quite sure what it was called but it looked nice enough. No blood and guts. Now that would’ve for sure made him throw up.

“Room 212,” Mrs. Levie mumbled as she opened up the door. She glanced at one of the nurses, looking to get their approval of some kind before one nodded, leaving her to push open the door.

Eli took a deep breath in, his head feeling like a pile of bricks and lit on fire all at the same time. His jaw was clenched to keep in the jittering cold he was feeling from his fingers, most likely going blue from how frostbitten he felt. And as the door swung to complete its rotation his eyes fell on the only person sitting in the room.





“Hi,” she said, her voice as familiar as it was deep. 


 It was smoother, more elegant like how he would’ve guessed from the letter. Not angry which he had expected. It made sense from the way she was sitting too, perched high like a crane, neck straight and shoulders back. He had wondered if she had been nervous to see him, too. Her face was full, not sallow like most sick patients he’d see in films at school or at home. Her hair was the same too, not as curly as before since growing up had straightened it out he guessed, but curly, nonetheless. It framed her face well, just like the way her brown eyes became wider, brow became narrower. 


It was almost the same as her mother, a memory come to life. It almost didn’t feel real.  


“Hey,” he said back, just barely.  


For a stupid reason, part of him thought that she wouldn’t respond back. That he would wake up from his lucid dreaming and be back in the comfort of his own home again, wondering whether this was a nightmare or a fantasy.  


“It’s been a while. Would you like to sit?” She motioned towards the chair beside her bed, taking his eyes off her since he had first entered the room.  


“Sure,” he said, some nerves beginning to leave his body with every step he took.

As Eli began to sit, he was able to take a closer look at Anabelle. Now that she had matured in her looks, she was quite pretty.  


“How have you been?” she asked, looking down at her nails. He remembered how she did that often when she had something on her mind, something she was itching to tell him. Though oftentimes the information she had would be exciting, a wide smile on her face. But the smile was gone, nor were the two of them very excited for that matter.

“I’m doing alright,” he answered honestly, “Are you doing alright?”

Eli felt like throwing himself off a cliff. 


She was sick. It was obvious she wasn’t doing alright.  


“I am for the moment,” She answered to his surprise. “Do you wanna take a walk?”  


He didn’t have to think about it for very long, declining would be too awkward.  





They were avoiding the questions; he was sure of himself that that was the case. By the way Anabelle avoided eye contact when he opened his mouth to speak, it was obvious she wasn’t going to explain what was wrong with her. She looked as though she was constantly bracing herself, unwilling to take a single blow despite how prepared she had probably felt.  


So, there was silence.  


As they walked around the floor, he watched Anabelle wave at fellow patients and nurses, some saying hi, some waving. They all looked warm though, a friendly radiance about them. In places like these, he could only assume it was better to be kind than to be angry. Who knows when it could be their last moments left on this earth?  


The thought made him shudder.

“Are you cold?” Anabelle asked him, looking up into his eyes again.  


“No. Are you?”



There it was again.

Eli held in a breath, letting it out slowly, almost fearful she could hear the sound of him breathing. Sometimes he’d catch himself breathing so loudly he would think it was someone else. Thankfully his breathing was a little more than quiet because now he was able to hear everything else.  


Monitors beeping from across the hall, voices in rooms echoing out into the hallway, children laughing, doctors talking, hospital beds squealing. Eventually it became annoying. Then it became something he wanted to tune out altogether. 


“It’s loud,” Anabelle said.

“I was just thinking that.”  



He was starting to see a pattern.  


“Remember that one time when we walked to the ice cream shop after school and didn’t tell anyone?” he began to recall. He heard somewhere the best way to get someone to have a conversation with you was to talk about old memories you shared with them. In their case, he knew there was quite a lot he could draw from.  


“Yeah,” she said, the beginning of a smile crawling up the sides of her mouth.  


“Remember how when we got back, there were cops surrounding the school and you cried because you thought you were being arrested?”  


Her mouth widened, top teeth showing as she let out a scoff.  


“Excuse me? At least I wasn’t the one who got snot on their ice cream and had to throw it out because it tasted salty,” she exclaimed as she looked towards the ground smirking.

This time it was his eyes widening, shock on his face as he remembered the taste of his ice cream on the way home. Eli cried twice that day because of it. He didn’t even recall telling her, but no matter how she found out, it didn’t stop him from nudging the side of her arm.  


She laughed a little as he did it, tipping over a little unsteadily and regained her balance back. It was refreshing to speak to her like this, so informally. Like the beginning of an old bookshelf being uncovered, her laughter being the first of many books to undust themselves and be placed back on the shelf.

Another round of silence fell between them again, more like a content pause as they walked further down the hospital hallway.  


“Do you remember,” she began to say, looking up to the ceiling, “when we were on the tire swing in my backyard and when we tried to both go on it at once, you fell through the hole?”

Eli laughed at this story, the memory coming back to him as if it had just happened last week. Though he thought of the time fondly, the younger him was horrified as he watched his foot plunge through the hole then the rest of his body, right as they swung all the way back. He shot like a cannonball, right into the muddy ditch. Then he remembered something else about that day.  


“You peed your pants because you laughed so hard.” 


This time, it was her turn to nudge him, far more aggressively than his, he noted.  


“That was one time, Elias,” he heard his name pour from her mouth, glazing over every syllable and vowel. She knew how to say it, he had to remind himself. He didn’t hate it when she said it either, it wasn’t foreign on her tongue. 


“Say my name again,” he said without thinking.  




She looked utterly confused.

“Just say it again,” He repeated, both embarrassed with the request and hopeful she would reply.  


“Elias,” she said hesitantly.  


He smiled. 


“I missed that, you saying my name. People actually call me Eli now.”  


“Really?” she said skeptically.

“Well people kept saying it wrong, I had to,” he admitted.  


“You didn’t have to,” she reminded him, “but I understand why you would. It suits you.”

He felt relieved at her approval, receiving it being one of his favorite gifts he could possibly get. When he was younger, it didn’t happen often, as he was a rowdy kid with a razor blade tongue. It was rare, back then, that he considered doing something nice for someone else without receiving any benefit. He had calmed down quite a bit since he and Anabelle fell out of contact.  


“You wanna race?” Anabelle said out of the blue, almost spontaneously. “Like old times.”

He laughed a little, feeling a childish competitiveness sprout within him. “Where would we even race?”

“The stairs, duh,” she said as if it was obvious. 


“Okay,” he said.  


She began to jog, just slightly, looking towards the stairwell at the end of the hall.  


She looked back at him, smiled a smile so bright and warm he felt as though he had returned to when he was a child, the smell of sap and fresh cut grass blades filling his nostrils, a canopy of shade pouring onto Anabelle in a frilly pink dress.  


“Make sure a piece of you gets planted with me, Elias.” 


In the moment, it was a strange thing to say. Truthfully, at the time he didn’t fully understand what she had meant. He didn’t realize it then, but it would be the last thing she would say to him, to anyone for that matter. He wasn’t quite sure how he found out or how word had even traveled but Anabelle had a lung disease that was beginning to deteriorate her airways. She was in bad shape when he had visited and collapsed that night, people flooded her room immediately as they tried to save her life. But the damage was irreversible, and the cost was fatal.

Anabelle was dead at 3:34 A.M that morning. 




The minutes on his watch turned to hours before he knew it, grass beginning to itch at his calves. He didn’t know how long he had been kneeling there, sweating in the sun’s harsh rays. If Anabelle were here now, she’d probably berate him, explaining that he would get sunburnt from how pale he was and they’d probably walk down to the nearest shaded area, Eli thanking her for the advice.  


Make sure a piece of you gets planted with me, Elias.  


She reminded him once again. Or more that he reminded himself. It was more like her voice was speaking through him, an annoying second voice in his head just as halos hover over an angel’s. He wondered how it would be, having a halo. Shining so brightly over everyone but never being able to see it for yourself. He felt that way about Annabelle. Her halo would’ve been so bright it would’ve singed the tops of her hair, sweat running through the tip of her hairline. Almost as bright as the sun. The sun. It was so bright now that even doing nothing made him exhausted.

But he had a job to finish, Mrs. Levie explained how important it was to Anabelle.  


Here he was, kneeling over the sprout of a tree, digging a large hole where the roots would go. He spent so long making sure it was upright, building the perfect dirt dome just to fill it up with dirt again and a tree. But he had to be careful with it. After all, it wasn’t just any tree.  


It had been grown carefully, fused together with Anabelle’s ashes and her single request to him before she had died. Along with the ashes, he made sure one more thing was added to the mix. 


And that was the letter she wrote to him.