By court order, divisiontwo is proud to present Junior Fiction - a place for aspiring young writers to display their work. We now begin a three-part series by Montgomery, Minnesota junior high school student Jessica McGuiness.

Dying Old
by Jessica McGuiness, 7th Grade

Moonlight cast its eclectic specter over the neighborhood. Stars twinkled across the night sky in a cosmic waltz with eternity. Crickets chirped their sensuous love songs with unrelenting, seductive rhythm. It was Friday, April 27, 1999, and the sun had said goodnight to the sleepy village of Geneva, Wisconsin.

Darlene Simmons lay awake in her bed in the tiny, 2 bedroom, South New York City apartment which she had called home for the last 53 years. To know Darlene was to know your average 93 year-old grandmother. A woman with more years behind than ahead, without enough time left to use either her gifts or her talents. She once fancied herself a scientist, but eugenics was a dying field. She once considered herself a writer, but she had experimented with drugs in high school and lost her creativity. She once believed she'd be a musician, but her unfinished symphony never began. She once dreamed of being an artist, but her nudes only grew more withered with time. She once hoped to be a lover, but few hearts had been hardened like hers. These things were still a part of her; as well as a love of history, science, philosophy, art, and housework. There are many things that make a woman, and she was no exception; just another universe of perceptions, intentions, contraceptions, and dreams. A woman, head to toe, collar to cuff, cleft to honeypot, and nothing but everything in between.

She couldn't sleep, not tonight anyway, for her nerves were prickling her like a summer cactus rubbing against a frightened porcupine. She stared fixedly at the phone on her nightstand, anticipating its hideous tinkle. She waited for that inevitable ring, knowing it would come but hoping it wouldn't. She licked her lips and wiped blood from her face as her eyes penetrated deeply into the phone, raping it. She was waiting for a call.

Ring! It came--all at once and little by little. It was the ring she had been fearing since the beginning of the story. "I'll get it! I'll get it!" came her mother's far away voice. Darlene got out of bed and walked hurriedly down the seemingly endless corridor to the living room, careful not to drip blood on the carpet or step in the puddle of sauce. Upon arrival at her destination, which was the living room, she saw her mother and father sitting huddled together on the sofa, sharing a single telephone receiver between the two of them as their family was very poor.

Her mother and father looked worried. Quivering like a bowl of twenty-year-old jello, Darlene crumudgeoned to the sofa and sat down between them. She listened with undivided attention to every word her mother said: "I see...I see...that's terrible...can anything be done?...nothing? she'll die?...okay...thank you...bye-bye," Darlene said as her mother continued to talk into the phone. After several more moments her mother hung up and turned to face Darlene.

"What did they say?" Darlene wanted to know.

"Honey, I think you had better sit down," her mother said cautiously as she wiped blood from her mouth. "I have something to tell you."

Darlene seated herself on the sofa, looked up at her mother and asked again, "What did the doctor say? Is something wrong?"

"Well," her mother began, searching for the right words, "He or she said that s/he knows why you have been forgetting things lately. Darlene, you have A.L.Z.H.E.I.M.E.R.'s!"

At her mother's words, Darlene broke down into tears. Her father gently guided her to the sofa and sat her down, as sobs escaped from her lips unvexed. Her father took out a handkerchief and wiped the blood from his cheeks.

"Now, dear," he said gently, "Things are going to be okay. You still have a lot of time left. People can live for as long as 20 years with the virus before they develop full-blown A.L.Z.H.E.I.M.E.R.'s. It's not the end of the world. In fact, a new study by J.D. Power and Associates says that with early detection and proper treatment, there's a 4 in 6000 chance, or a 1 in 1500 expressed as a fraction in lowest terms, that A.L.Z.H.E.I.M.E.R.'s will go into remission." He rung out his handkerchief and then gently wiped the blood from his daughter's face as he helped her gently to the sofa. "It's going to be okay," he said gently.

I didn't know what to make of it all; ideas, thoughts and emotions were all swirling around in my head at a dizzying speed. I looked into my father's eyes just then, and I saw straight into his soul.

"But how? What did I do to deserve this!? WHY ME!!??" she whispered to her father.

"Well," her mother began, "there are many ways in which a person can get A.L.Z.H.E.I.M.E.R.'s. Most commonly, it runs in families. You may have gotten it from hugging Grandma last week," her father said gently. All of this was finally too much for Darlene. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she collapsed backward onto the sofa.

"Quick!" her mother yelled, "get her onto the sofa and put her feet up!" shouted her father.

When Darlene came to, she was looking up into the bloody faces of her mother and father.

"How long was I out?" she asked, her voice shaking.

"About two days," her father gently answered as he finished peeling his carrot. "We worried you weren't coming back to us."

Darlene raised her hand to her forehead, the right one as she was missing her left. "I can't handle this," I thought, "I can't handle this! I can't handle this!! I CAN'T HANDLE THIS!!!!!!!" she screamed as she wiped gops of crusty blood from her face and tossed them angrily onto the carpet. "Calm down," I told her.

But it was too late.

Rage overcame Darlene and she dashed out of the apartment and onto the mean streets of Los Angeles. She got into her Metro and closed the door behind her, but in her rush of emotion she forgot to adjust her mirrors and check her blind spot. All at once, she was driving, crying, and chewing gum at the same time--a combination ripe for disaster. Her eyes filled with blood and she could barely see the road. Before she knew what was happening, she was going 100 mph in a 30 mph zone. Suddenly, all Darlene could say was, "AAAAAAAAhhhhhhlllzheimers!" as her car collided head-on with Mack Truck filled with elementary school students. And Darlene had been drinking.

To be continued...

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