The sky bled out auburn hues, as if grieving the impending loss of a cherished soul. The tepid breeze whispered its sorrow through the rustling leaves. It was a heart-wrenching day, when the world seemed to collapse upon itself, smothering the lives beneath its weight. James stood in the doorway of the small, dimly lit hospital room, his fists clenched, knuckles whitening. The sterile scent of disinfectant burned in his nostrils, but he barely noticed. His gaze was locked onto the figure in the bed, his heart shattering with every labored breath his friend took. "Hey, Jimmy," rasped a weak voice. Martin's smile was faint and strained, his hollow cheeks tainted with the ghost of their shared youth. "You look like shit." James chuckled, a wretched sound that died in his throat. He approached the bed, forcing a smile. "Yeah, well, you don't look too great either, Marty." "Comes with the territory," Martin replied, the words barely audible. A violent cough racked his body, pain etched into every line on his face. James winced, pain tearing at his insides. He swallowed the lump in his throat and reached for Martin's hand, cold and fragile like the shell of a bird's egg. "Y'know," Martin rasped, his eyes flickering with the remnants of a fire that once burned fiercely, "I thought I'd go out with a bang. But, fuck, cancer's a bitch, huh?" James' eyes brimmed with tears, and he blinked them away, determined to stay strong for his friend. "The biggest fucking bitch," he whispered. Martin chuckled, his eyes crinkling at the corners. "Remember when we thought we were invincible, racing down the highway in your dad's car, screaming our lungs out?" "How could I forget?" James smiled through the tears. "You almost killed us both that night. That was the moment I knew we were stuck with each other for life." Martin's eyes softened, and he squeezed James' hand. "I'm sorry, Jimmy. I didn't mean to leave you like this." James struggled to maintain his composure, his voice cracking under the weight of his grief. "It's not your fault, Marty. We'll always be together, you know that. In every memory, every laugh, every fucking stupid thing we ever did." Martin's eyes glistened with unshed tears. "Promise me something, Jimmy." "Anything," James choked out. "Promise me you'll live the fuck out of your life. Don't let me be the reason you stop." The dam broke, and tears streamed down James' face. "I promise, Marty. I'll live enough for the both of us. I'll make you proud." Martin nodded, his eyes growing heavy. "Thank you... I love you, man." "I love you too, brother," James whispered, his voice barely audible through his sobs. As the sun dipped below the horizon, bathing the world in darkness, Martin's breaths grew shallower, his grip loosened, and he slipped away, leaving behind a void that could never be filled. In that moment, James vowed to keep his promise, to live life to the fullest, and to honor the memory of the friend who had been his everything.