Reason: Thank You. Destination: Heaven

By Cristina <crisdccks@hotmail.com>

Rated: PG

Submitted: August 2003

Summary: Sometimes we believe it's too late to tell people we love how we feel. In this short story, Lois realizes it's never too late — or too early — to let friends know how much their friendship means.

I posted this story back in December in Spanish at Zoom's MBs. It wasn't originally a fanfic. It was turned into one then, as a tribute. It was dedicated to the memory of a childhood friend when I first wrote it and that didn't change when it was modified. Though translating it wasn't something I intended to do at first, a few months back I started considering the option. I made up my mind when the Alt-K Com suggested that it'd be a good thing since the story was eligible for this year's Alt-Kerths. And so this version was born.

With that said, I have to thank the FoLCs who read the Spanish version, for their kind words; Jose, who first read the translated version and made some useful suggestions; Bobbett, for the amazing help with the translation process; (I wanted the English version to do the original justice and I couldn't have done that without you!:)). And, finally, I want to thank Tricia for her help and her nice words. Thanks, guys! You're all great.

To that, of course, I must add that I was honored when you guys made my story part of the short list of nominees and overwhelmed when, with your votes, you decided to give it the award. It was incredible just being nominated, so winning was… amazing (Christiane, sharing the Alt-Kerth with you was an honor).

Now this IS the last thing. Esther, thank you.

All feedback is more than welcome!

As usual, all disclaimers apply (I don't own the characters; they belong to DC comics and December 3rd productions)

***

Lying in bed, with her gaze fixed on the ceiling and the murmur of an intermittently falling rain as the only noise, she thought of Esther, of her enormous lust for life and her everlasting smile. For the hundredth time over the last three years, all the things she longed to tell her, all the things she hoped she could hear, wherever she was, drifted through her mind. Never before had she understood those who, at the loss of a loved one, regretted the wasted time, the unspoken feelings… Cynics, egotists in search of some peace of mind, trying to rid themselves of their burden of conscience; that's exactly how she'd describe them. Yet now, she felt forever touched by the death of someone she had seen a total of six times throughout her last two years. How ironic!

The darkening of the sky, together with the soft murmur of the rain, now much steadier, was having the soothing effect of a lullaby on her. Then her eyes slowly closed and her dreams and thoughts became one. It wasn't long before she found herself beside the curly hair and lively smile that she remembered. It was all she needed before the words began flowing easily from her mouth, as everything she meant to say came out, at last, with no hesitation, with no doubts, all under her friend's warm stare.

She woke up, startled. Sure as she was that it'd been a dream, she knew that she'd finally found the way to express all she was feeling. Unwilling to forget, she turned on her computer and began to type.

*"Dear Esther,

I've thought about you today. Again. It's so hard to believe how many years have gone by since we first met; a lifetime, mostly for you. From our childhood we shared so many things: neighborhood, friends, school… and of course, more than one fight, born from two personalities so alike at times, so conflicting at others — I'm sure your chin remembers my teeth just as well as my face does your fingernails!

Finding the way to share this with you has been complicated. More than that, actually. You know me. I was never one to openly talk about my feelings; it never felt easy. That must be what leads me to writing them most of the time. After all, that's how I make a living — writing. I can't be that bad, can I? This might surprise you. I sure didn't expect it, but the truth is you have made a difference in my life, bigger than I could have ever imagined. I know we'd grown apart in the last few years, first because, unlike the rest of our group, I didn't stay at the nearby high school; then came college and, in the end, it was your health that didn't make it easy. You know how there are certain moments in life that remain in your memory, indelible, without you knowing the reason? Well, in my life, three of those moments are linked to you.

The first moment I recall is the day I found out what you were really going through…A friend had told me that, according to the rumors, if you weren't going to class it was because the medicines you'd been prescribed had made your hair fall out! I got home so eager to share some laughs with Lucy over this, but I didn't even get an almost-smile from her. She just stared at me, more serious than I'd ever seen her, and told me that you had cancer. Some reporter I am, huh? Suddenly, I felt nothing but the emptiness that takes you over whenever you think about death, and all I could think about were those typical sayings that always sound so ridiculous when said by others: how it wasn't fair, why did it have to be you…

The second moment was the day I last saw you… Your skin had already regained most of its healthy pink coloring, you had gained some of the lost pounds, and your hair had begun to grow. I remember how you'd gelled it, so that it was spiked. When Lucy saw it, she said you were laughing at the world and that you had every right to after all the suffering you'd gone through. However, we forgot that there's always a last laugh, but this time, the world got the last laugh, not you. The doctors said that it was your strong will to live that had cured you, but only a few days after the good tests results came back, you were re-admitted to the hospital. Always the načve one, I played it down, assuming you'd be out in no time; but as days went by, your lungs continued to deteriorate.

And so came my third moment. That day, despite being the first of the Christmas break, I was feeling down. I got home with my mind set on putting away the groceries I'd picked up on the way, but Lucy was there, waiting for me, with a serious look on her face, and she asked me to sit down. I had to ask what was wrong a couple of times before she simply said, "It's Esther." And although I already knew the answer, I asked, reluctant to believe, if you had… if you were… It was so hard to accept that the most vivacious person I'd ever met was no longer…

That was exactly three years ago and even though you may not believe this, I've thought of you almost daily, and I've tried so hard to find the words to tell you something as simple as… Thank you. Thank you for, because of you, I learned to value each minute, to chase every opportunity that comes along, as remote as it may appear. Thanks to you, I've grown to value health and everything else I have and that life gives me. Now I know death stops before nothing and no one, and wasting time while we're on this Earth is an injustice for all those who are no longer here. And I want to ask you that, if you can, that you see to it that I never forget you when it seems like I'm forgetting all this, and I wish to say to you that I will always keep you in my memory for as long as I live.

I hope my words reach you and that someday, somewhere, we can meet again.

All my love,

Lois.*

She was still reading over the letter when the phone rang. A little hesitant to answer at first, she finally picked it up. "Hello?"

***

He knew today was an especially difficult day for Lois, more than she'd ever dare to admit. Maybe that was why he hadn't had the courage to ask her how she was feeling; hadn't tried to make her talk. He was fully aware of how hard it was for her to express her emotions, yet that hadn't prevented him from worrying about her. How could he not? He couldn't help it; she was too important to him. Finally, he could no longer avoid picking up the phone and allowing his fingers to dial her number, even if he were tempting fate, and even if he was taking the risk of making her angry.

***

What she heard at the other end of the line was her partner's warm voice. Truth be told, after a little over a year working side by side with him, she couldn't say she was surprised. He always seemed to know when she needed his comfort, his support; that was what made Clark so special to her. And that was why she couldn't wait until something happened to him and realized, too late, that she'd never told him how much he meant to her.

"Hi, Lois! How are you?"

Her partner's voice bore a mixture of shyness and insecurity. <<Clark, careful as ever.>> Her voice steady, she answered, "I'm ok, Clark. Thanks for caring."

"Great. I'll let you sleep then; it's late. I just wanted to make sure you were fine. See you in the morning?"

"Wait, Clark." She wasn't going to make the same mistake twice; she wouldn't leave things unsaid; she couldn't assume there'd always be tomorrow.

Surprised by her reaction, he asked, "Yes, Lois?"

"Thank you. For being my friend… my best friend; for being by my side whenever I need you; for trusting me and showing me that I can trust in you."

"You're welcome, Lois. Good night. Sleep well."

"Goodnight, Clark."

Once she'd hung up the phone, feeling extremely well given the circumstances, she brought her attention back to the computer. She printed the letter and after carefully folding it, she placed it in an envelope, on which she neatly wrote:

THE END

To Esther, Reason: Thank you. Destination: Heaven.