How could she have done this?! I couldn’t believe mom hadn’t told us she had cancer! Noah had quickly filled us all in as he raced the Range Rover down the twisting streets behind the blaring lights of the ambulance. It was definitely not the way any of us had wanted to find out, and Noah had seemed completely uncomfortable telling us so hastily, especially with all of us completely shaken up, and Olive’s constant sobs didn’t help at all. I paced up and down as we waited for mom to come out of surgery, I couldn’t even consider sleep like Kitty, Olive and Oliver had.
I continued pacing, mumbling under my breath and kicking the walls, she had to be okay! What if the doctor came out and said she hadn’t made it, no! I couldn’t think like that.
“Hey, you okay?” At first I considered not answering, but I needed something to distract me. “Sit down?” She asked kindly, she was looking up at me, full of concern.
“Who are you waiting for?” She asked as I sat down warily beside her. I didn’t know why, but I felt like I could talk to her.
“Uh – my mom, she’s in surgery.”
“That sucks. I hope she pulls through.” The conversation was clearly going to be a little awkward from the get go, but we kept talking.
“I just hope she can make it, I mean, I dunno what I’d do without her, I can’t even think of anything different than having my mom around.” She listened patiently as I told her the story of the night, the party, my moms announcement, her collapse, everything.
“I know how you feel, honestly. My moms here for her chemotherapy right now, I have to wait out here till she’s done though. They won’t let me into the room.” Her mom had cancer too?! No wonder I felt like I could relate to her.
“What’s it like? The chemo?”
“I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard on her. She vomits, she’s always tired, her hair fell out long ago, but it’ll all be worth it when she pulls through.” I took note of her use of when she pulls through instead of if she pulls through. That’s how I should be thinking. Mom will pull through!
“Thanks so much for talking to me, you really calmed me down.”
“Yeah, you seemed pretty upset – understandably. I’m glad I could help.” This girl was so great.
I didn’t know how long I had been asleep, me, Olive, and Oliver had all dropped off as soon as we sat down, we were all worried but we just couldn’t stay awake any longer. At least this would pass some time too. Olive was still asleep, her head almost touching my legs. I needed her to wake up so we could talk about everything, not her bullimea, just mom. I needed to talk.
“Kitty, you okay?” Oliver had woken up.
“Um – no, not really no.”
“Wanna go for a walk?” He was so kind, but I couldn’t go for a walk, mom could be out of surgery any second.
“Come on, I just spoke to the nurse, she said mom won’t be out of surgery for at least another hour, we should get something to eat.” He didn’t give me time to tell him no, grabbing my hand and leading me down the hallway, out into the night. We walked for a while in silence, across the street, down to the boardwalk. It was so beautiful here, it was unimaginable that such tragedy was happening at the same time.
“Kitty, you think she’ll be okay?” He asked nervously, staring out to sea. I always forgot how young Oliver was, he had filled out quickly, and combined with his mature, caring nature (at times!) he could probably pass as my age, even though he was barely 14.
“Of course she will be.” I felt a lot less confident than I sounded as I reassured my little brother, I didn’t actually know myself. All I knew was that she had to be, we couldn’t lose her, she was our rock.
“Kitty…” He stared down at the ground, clearly (and understandably) upset, “what if she dies?” the words came out in a choked whisper, I had been thinking them too, but I hadn’t wanted to say them out loud, it all just felt so real. If we didn’t say it she could just be in hospital for a check up, oh damn, I knew I was kidding myself, it was obviously real… I just couldn’t face it. I still hadn’t answered him, I looked down at the ground as he stared at mine, I knew what he wanted, for me to say she wouldn’t die, but now that I’d thought about it I realised it was a very real possibility – she may not even make it out of surgery, and that wasn’t even to do with the cancer!
I paced up and down the hallway, my nerves going out of control. I knew mom was okay, they had brought her out of surgery and she was resting with Noah keeping up a bedside vigil. I bit my nails and tapped my feet as I walked past the mostly deserted rooms, I couldn’t go in there. Not on my own, I didn’t want to see mom like this, she couldn’t be ill, it just wasn’t right, she was the heart of the family, who would hold us all together?
I needed my siblings to come back, where the hell where they?! I had woke up to find everyone gone, Tommy, Kitty, Oliver, all of them, all gone. I had not a single idea where they could be, I’d asked dad when he came out to convince me to come in and see mom but he didn’t know either. I just needed someone to talk to, I needed Kitty to be here and convince me to go inside that little room where mom was laying in the bed, with cancer. I stood in the hallway, staring into the room through the glass. She didn’t look ill, just as if she was napping, but I knew she had just had major surgery to remove a blood clot and she was obviously in a bad condition, it was such a frightening thought.
“Olive!” I heard a voice shout to me from down the hallway, it was Tommy! And some girl who I had never seen before in my life. Was Tommy picking up girls at the hospital?!
“Where have you been?!” I was pretty angry with him, mom was in surgery and he was off with some girl, probably looking for a date or something, what an idiot.
“Just to the vending machines downstairs, why aren’t you in there?” He seemed a little upset that he wasn’t in the room, but the girl whispered something into his ear and I noticed him calm down.
“Um -” I knew I had to go in, and now was as good a time as any, “I’m going in now, come on.” He walked ahead of me into the room, I didn’t know if the girl was going to try and follow him in, but I was still going to stop her. “Look sweetie,” I said, spinning around and blocking the door, even though she hadn’t moved yet. “This is a family issue, so why don’t you go somewhere else.” It wasn’t a question and she knew it. Her face set into a hard line of anger, but for whatever reason she just turned on her heel and strutted off down the hallway, whatever.
It wasn’t long until Olive and Kitty came back from wherever they had been – thank God! I knew that Kitty was upset with me right now, but my… issues were nothing compared to this. Our mom could die! Noah told us that they had gotten the clot out, it was lucky that we were throwing a party causing mom not to be wrapped up in bed, or we may never have known anything was wrong until the next morning, and by then it would have been too late. You could have cut the tension in the air with a knife, mom was heavily sedated, resting. Noah had his position next to her, barely speaking to us aside from telling us hard facts, I knew he didn’t dare to hope out loud, after all, she may have gotten through this, but there was still cancer to deal with! We all stood around her bed, an odd sight in our formal clothes from the party, inwardly praying for her survival; I had never been one for God, but now I felt that if He was real I needed Him more than ever.
I was looking down upon myself, it was like an out of body experience, I could see them; my family, my loves, my life, all stood around my bed. The looks on their faces pained me so deeply I thought I may have exploded. Kitty was stoic, staring straight at me, but I could see the fear in her eyes. Olive was outwardly nervous, tapping her Louboutins on the hard tile floor over and over again, picking at her nails and messing with her clothes. Oliver was clearly angry, I knew what he was thinking, this anger at the world was consuming him. Noah, my love, was trying to hold himself together, he was always such a man, never losing control, always proud, but I could see the worry on his face. Tommy was also stoic like his sister Kitty, looking down at the floor with a look of deep sadness on his handsome face.
I needed to wake up from the drug induced sleep, I had to be there for my family but it was impossible. What could I possibly do to comfort them when I was in shreds myself. It sounds selfish but I really didn’t want to die, I wasn’t ready, I hadn’t done everything in my life that I could have. What about poor Cora, still at home with a babysitter, without a care in the world. No doubt she would grow up with problems if she went through life without a mother to be there for her. Noah was a good father but he wasn’t very hands on with the kids, he was working all the time, when he came home he was the stern but cheerful father, the one the kids loved unconditionally. I had to be strong, for their sakes.
Why was no one doing anything?! We were all just stood around like half wits staring at moms sleeping figure. We should have been calling doctors, flying the best specialists in from around the world, anything but this standing around waiting for something to happen! I scowled at the rest of my family, who didn’t notice as they were still too busy staring at mom. I couldn’t be here!
I had to leave, I couldn’t be there anymore. So I ran. I ran straight out of the depressing, unthinkable situation. I could here Noah shouting me as I ran from the room but I didn’t turn around, I ran straight through the twisting blank white hallways of the hospital out into the night, being anywhere else would be better than being in there.
I didn’t know where I was going, there was no destination in my mind, but it had to be somewhere far away. This new town was huge, much bigger than Bridgeport, it felt amazing to be able to run from the built up city center, straight through the quaint suburbs, and out into the country. After a while I realised I was at the city limits, if I just kept running I could leave all of this behind, run to a new city, ignore my moms problems and start over. But I couldn’t. I just needed some peace. Running into the National Park on the edge of the city I wished I had my easel with me, this place was so beautiful. Damn, how could I be thinking of art when my mom was dying?!
A small cluster of benches were inviting me, I had been running for what felt like hours without stopping, I needed to rest, and this seemed like the perfect place. Sat among the nature I tried to clear my head, that’s what people always seemed to do, just get rid of their thoughts for a while, just to calm down. I took deep breaths, in, and out, in, and out. I wished I had a pack of cigarettes right now, I’d tried one at school a few weeks ago after a tough test and it had calmed me right down.
I tried not to think about mom, if I let myself think of the possibilities I wouldn’t be able to stop, I knew I’d end up breaking down, I mean it wasn’t like anyone was around, but I didn’t want to be weak, dad had taught me that men always have to be strong. The silence was so complete that it was a shock when I heard twigs snapping, and a rustling behind the bushes ahead. I stared ahead, ready for some sort of monster to come out of the bushes and eat me, or a tramp to come and mug me, but what came out was even odder.
It was the most unlikely type of person to emerge that I could have imagined, this perfectly manicured woman, an unnatural sight for a National Park, where was her hiking gear? She had noticed me, I knew that. She was walking towards me purposely, I quickly composed myself, it wouldn’t be cool to let her know I was upset, whoever she was.
“Hello! What a shock to see someone else out here so early, or late, depending on what you’ve been up too.” She said in a clipped English accent, extending a manicured hand to me, which I shook wearily. “What are you doing out here?” She asked, staring at me curiously.
“Um- I was just, walking around and I ended up here. If you don’t mind me saying, you don’t seem like, dressed properly for this place.” I smiled weakly at her, I couldn’t really be bothered with a conversation with this woman, but she was intriguing me.
“Well if you don’t mind me saying, neither of us seem to be be dressed appropriately for such a place, but I always find the appropriate way is usually the most tedious. Don’t you agree?” I had completely forgotten I was still in my extremely formal suit from the party. “I was actually at a rather fabulous party at the McLaughlins, if you must know. Now you must tell me where you where. How old are you by the way.” She peered at me as if she couldn’t quite work it out. She was taller than me, and I guessed she was probably somewhere in her late 20’s, I didn’t really know.
“17.” I said quickly, adding 3 years onto my age. She would probably just laugh if she knew I was only 14, I had to quickly move the conversation on. “Do you mean the MacLaughlins as in Mayor MacLaughlin?” I must admit that I was impressed, she clearly knew the high players of the city, I’d wanted to get a meeting with Mayor MacLaughlin for months to ask about getting my art around the city, but I never got past his secretary. I knew if I asked grandpa the Mayor would probably come straight over to the house, but I didn’t want help, I wanted to do it on my own. “I was actually at a party myself, but it got to be kind of a drag.” I didn’t want to tell her about mom , I don’t really think she would want to hear my sob story, she was just being polite.
“It seems like we think alike. I love to come to this park after a good party, it really clears my head. Gives me good ideas for the artists I endorse also.” She looked away from me for a second, at the wonderful scenery around her.
“You endorse artists? I’m an artist.” I blurted out before I could stop myself. I had been looking for someone like this for ages. She turned back to me with a half smile on her lips.
“You are? Well you should show me your work, I love to find up and coming artists.” Before I knew it we were engaged in a conversation about art, debating the best artists, telling each other our favourite works, and generally just having a good conversation. I’d never met someone who knew so much about art, she knew much, much more than I did, she even knew more than my teacher. It was such a great conversation that I found myself not consumed with worry over mom, which in a way I felt guilty about, but on the other hand it was so good to just have a real conversation without the dreaded C word hanging on my every thought.
“Goodness is that the time.” She glanced at her watch and then at the sky, the sun was slowly rising, casting a pink glow over everything in sight, it was beautiful. “I simply must go, a girl has to get her beauty sleep. Take my card.” She slipped a fancy white card into my hand before turning on her heel and heading back to the path, not looking back once. I looked down at the card, Celeste Clarence-Veloria. Maybe this was just the person I had been looking for.
* * *
Sorry it’s been so long guys! I know this chapter isn’t great, but I’m just extending some of the story lines and figuring out how to go about the whole cancer business. I hope you enjoy it, hopefully there will be a new chapter very soon. I also wanted to know what you thought of the way the last chapter was wrote. Do you prefer it to be written in the third person or first person? Please tell me, it would really help me out!
– Marissa x
P.S. Doesn’t Oliver look the spitting image of his father?!