(A/N)- First Fanfiction in a looong time, I finally broke down because I couldn't get this idea out of my head! Plus I missed writing! More to come, I hope you guys enjoy- let me know what you think!
Disclaimer- Unfortunately I don't own Glee, the characters or any aspect of the show itself. FOX does. Pity.
Chapter 1- I Can See No Way
The room she awoke to was the exact same as all the ones she had awoken to previously. Hot, muggy, and smelling of rubbing alcohol mixed with a stench of lysol. Focusing on the smell she was even able to detect a hint of starch that was more than likely coming from the scratchy sheets beneath her. The smell in every room was always the same and she was glad that she could count on some sort of consistency. She could bet that every room on this floor had the same pale blue striped wallpaper, single window, and whiteboard announcing the date as if the occupant were old and forgetful. In fact, she could almost guarantee the same for every floor. All 5 of them. Her favorite feature; however, was a large fluorescent light that hung in the middle of the room above her bed and when flipped on, she was convinced it could illuminate an entire football field if given the opportunity. She especially loved said light at 3 AM when she was happily dreaming about dolphins with unicorn horns swimming in her backyard pool.
She fiddled with her fingernail between her teeth, accidentally ripping one and wincing out loud as she shook her hand violently. Gazing down at her middle finger, she watched as a speck of blood bubbled up at the upper corner of her nail. She watched it reach its maximum height before flowing down her nail eventually resting on her cuticle. Silently, she grabbed the hem of her shirt and held it tightly around her finger. Calling it a shirt was a complete understatement as the garment didn't even have a back. She complained to her mom that she was entirely too uncomfortable with her back side being exposed every time she had to get up to use the bathroom. She smiled to herself remembering her mom's response, "No one in this hospital wants a glimpse of your butt, don't flatter yourself. Plus you have this room to yourself, they treat you like royalty." Her mother had said with a chuckle causing an annoyed 'humph' from her daughter. Regardless of if anyone wanted to see her backside, she would much rather be in her own clothes as it made her feel safer. That made her smile too. Of all places, she should feel safe here in this consistent room with blue stripes and oversized lights. But she didn't.
Loosening her grip, she pulled her finger up to her eyes pausing to turn her hand slightly to the left then slightly to the right. She smiled to herself, realizing the makeshift gown had been successful in stopping the blood flow from cascading down her finger. She heavily sighed and dropped her hand down as quickly as she had pulled her nail back initially. The sun had started pouring in through her blinds and she found the intrusion to be welcomed. It was like the sun was speaking directly to her again. The last time she spoke to the sun she asked selfishly to spare herself from sunburn as she had left her sunscreen at home while she visited the park. She was positive that the sun would be considerate and listen to her request since she spoke to him nicely, although she wasn't too happy when she went home that afternoon as red as one of those tomatoes her grandmother used to make her spend hours picking in her garden. She decided the sun must have been mad at her that day, maybe it was because she spent hours dancing in the rain only days before and the sun felt left out.
Maybe the sun was apologizing today. The intense warmth certainly felt apologetic on her face and with her eyes closed she could see bright red behind her eyelids that flashed yellow and brief periods of black when she moved her eyes to the side. She bit her cheek unconsciously as she felt her hair burn in the direct path of several streams of sun.
"Morning," the noise startled her as her heart began pounding and she clutched her chest with her left hand, leaving her bloody finger still upon her knee. " Oh dear! I scared you, I'm sorry" the woman stopped briefly. "Just making rounds, how are you feeling? Simply gorgeous morning, this..." the woman paused and replied by pointing her hand at the blinds and glittering streams of sun. "It just makes my soul all fuzzy and warm like Christmas, I completely forgot to knock."
Bringing her hand from her chest and resting it on her tummy she licked her lips before closing her eyes again. "I'm feeling okay, just accepting an apology from the sun." she finally answered.
The woman looked slightly puzzled before continuing, "My name is Mildred, but all my favorite patients call me Millie," she said with a wink. The girl opened one of her eyes and took in the lady's appearance. She was probably around 50 years old with pale white skin and black hair. The more the girl looked at her, the more she realized Millie reminded her of an old beaten up Snow White. A princess who had seen better days. She silently wondered if the woman lived alone or in some cottage in the middle of nowhere. She settled on the fact that she probably lived somewhere in a normal population- no one lives in the woods anymore. At least not on purpose.
"I know you are used to this by now, but I'm going to tell you anyways. We are going to do the usual complete work up this morning including blood and vitals. The doctor just arrived and will be starting his rounds soon too m'dear," she tapped a few keys on the portable database system before continuing. "And my most favorite question, If you could rate your pain on a scale from 1-10 where would you party baby doll?" Millie asked leaning her elbow on the swivel desk with her other fist delicately placed on her curvy hip. The girl looked at her once more, again through only one eye before she took a deep breath and tried to focus on her body and its general mood. She felt achy and nauseous but nothing too serious.
"I would say about a 3," she responded while nodding and drifting her eye closed to match her other. Again the sun started to paint sunsets beneath her eyelids and she squinted randomly trying to control the colored outbursts.
"Where's your pain, localized or general?" the nurse stepped over to the bed and began lightly prodding the girls stomach and then her side. She felt a little annoyed that the woman kept interrupting her bonding moments with the sun, even if she was only doing her job.
"General mostly, I feel like I worked out for 6 hours at the gym. Everything is just achy," the girl said, her face wrinkling up as if she was remembering the way it felt to be fatigued after a good workout.
She truthfully had never worked out a day in her life. She always had other things to worry about more than fitness and she wondered what it would be like if she could toss her worries out the window and go to a gym. Maybe they smelt like it did in here. She imagined it would smell like sweat, rubber, and lysol which would mean the two places at least had one thing in common. They attempted to be sanitary. Attempted being the key word and the girl was positive the janitor that cleaned the floors at the hospital never changed the water the entire night. That water was as black as nurse Millie's hair and it made her cringe every time she heard the slop of the mop touch the porcelain white floor. This is why she always insisted on having socks on her feet and a bottle of germ-x by her bedside at all times. No exceptions.
"Did you hear me?" Millie scratched at the girl's side bringing her out of her thoughts.
"No, sorry," the girl said sheepishly.
"Don't you apologize dear. If I were snuggled on a bed with the sun on my face, I'd be day dreaming too," the older nurse had a genuine smile spreading across her face. "I was just asking if you felt fatigued at all or nauseous?"
"Both" the girl responded quickly, opening her eyes and wincing at the way the sun made her eyes squint shut again.
The nurse made her way back to the computer and began hacking away. The sound reminded the girl of her mother. While completing school work she could always hear her mother in the next room, tapping away like a maniac. It seemed as if she was typing so fast she was worried she would forget what she was about to say. It was always amazing to hear. Kind of like music, a perfect distant melody. She turned on her side without feeling too much discomfort in an attempt to avoid the sun, which she made a mental note to apologize later for, and slowly tried to open her eyes again.
"I need to take a look at your left arm, time to get the nasty part over." She laughed while putting a blood pressure cuff on the right arm and pressing the button on the beeping machine. The nurse then straightened out the girl's left arm wiping her IV tubing with an alcohol patch. The girl watched as the nurse clamped off the flow of her IV fluids before sticking a syringe in the tube and slowly pulling back on the toggle as red crimson started to appear in the tube from her arm. She watched it snake through the tubing before ending up in the vial behind the syringe. Slowly it filled up almost at a snails pace. It reminded the girl of when she had watched her nail bubble up with blood earlier that morning.
"Only need one vial this morning, aren't you one lucky duck." the nurse was smiling while she reached over to undo the blood pressure cuff. She smelt of lavender and starch, a weird combination but the girl found it oddly soothing compared to the stench of the room itself.
"It takes so long to fill up, it's like it knows you're waiting for it to finish," the girl whispered.
"Or you're just not drinking enough fluids young lady," the nurse snapped back.
"That's what the IV bag is for, fluids. The doctor said so himself," the girl rolled her eyes. "Plus all the 'fluids' they send me are down right nasty. They probably come from that janitors slop bucket." She finished wincing as she thought of drinking that germ infested water.
"Mmhmm," the nurse mumbled through a smile as she pulled the syringe out and unclipped the tubing causing the machine to beep regularly again.
"Okay, I'll go get you something for your nausea. And I'll bring you some apple juice from the back. Would you like that...fluid?" the nurse suggested with a grin, her eyes beginning to glow bright blue. It was apparent that she was hoping her patient would consider finally drinking, even if it was sugary apple juice. In truth, it didn't surprise the girl at all. A modern day Snow White would totally think of something apple related. Secretly she wondered if she should accept the offer for fear that the Queen had somehow gotten a hold of it first.
"Sure. I love juice," the girl replied with a genuine smile she didn't know she had been holding back. Millie nodded as she grabbed the vial of blood and her slip of paper before exiting the room.
The girl flipped over to her back and let her eyes drift shut again. The beeping of her vitals next to her felt soothing and it almost lulled her asleep. As weird as it sounded she had no trouble sleeping or existing in a hospital room even with all the ruckus going on around her. She was used to it. She tried to think of how many times she had been in a hospital, in a room almost identical to this one but she lost count after 5. She didn't feel like lifting her hurt hand up to keep tallying up the results and she struggled to keep track in her head.
There was an odd peace that surrounded her, almost like when she went swimming every summer of her childhood and would dive to the bottom of the chlorinated water and just sit. The vibration sounds would echo in her ears and her eyes would burn as silence surrounded her. It was one of her favorite spots as a child; to just sit in utter silence, alone. Sometimes when she was in the hospital she felt that same echo enter her head. The same sense of peace filled her lungs so deeply she struggled to breathe the same way she would at the bottom of the pool.
Her stomach flipped repeatedly causing her to break instantly free from her peaceful world she had created. She sat up and brought both her hands to her forehead while she slightly leaned over wincing a little as her snagged nail caught a strand of her hair. She had been in the hospital for 4 days and so far nothing had improved. She still felt the same way she had been feeling for a few weeks. It's not that she was expecting a drastic improvement but she thought the doctors would at least be able to quiet her stomach and pain enough so she could eat. She suddenly had a fear that the Queen had already managed to tap into her water supply.
She inhaled deeply as another wave of nausea flooded her body. She felt bile in the back of her throat and swallowed quickly to keep herself composed. She knew her mother was starting to worry more than usual, especially since she had lost 15 lbs prior to being admitted last Tuesday. She opened her eyes trying not to make any sudden movements that could possibly make the nausea worse as she glanced down to her legs. Even beneath the white blanket she could tell they were skinnier than normal and she wondered how many girls wished every night before bed to wake up with skinny legs. She was definitely not one of those girls because she actually preferred her legs to not be this skinny as it made her jeans and pants fit weird. Not that it mattered now that she was in a backless gown more suited for stripping. Pantless.
"Ah ha, you're sitting up in anticipation for your juice, hm?" Millie said as she brought the cup to the girl's face. She winced a little and took the cup, smelling it briefly before hesitating and taking a tiny sip before setting it down on the bedside table.
"Tummy sick, darlin'?" the nurse had turned and was shoving a syringe of medicine within one of the ports on her patients IV. The girl always wondered why some medicines you could just insert all at once like the nurse had with the nausea medicine and some you had to divide up into increments. She remembered her strong pain relievers to be like the latter and wondered if it was because it would destroy her veins or maybe because the doctors just wanted to deprive her of pain medicine a little bit longer to see how much she could truly handle. Regardless, when she thought about the nausea medicine, she was convinced that the reason the medicine was administered so fast was because no one screws around with nausea. She had never once met a person who enjoyed the sight of vomit.
The nurse rubbed the girl's back gently before mumbling something the girl couldn't quite make out before making her way out of the room. She nearly collided with a woman almost equal in age and height but completely the opposite in appearance.
"Baby, are you okay?" the woman held a concerned expression, as she dropped all her bags in the sea blue chair in the corner of the room.
"Just the usual, I'll be fine in a few. No worries, Mom." the girl said as she kept her hands in place on her head and continued to stare into the void of the white blanket beneath her.
"Well, I certainly don't like walking in here first thing in the morning and seeing you all up and in a twist. Has the doctor been in yet, have they checked your levels?" her mom was starting to smooth out the blanket on the edge of the bed before sitting down. Her weight caused the bed to pop to life inflating and deflating to adjust the pressure of air beneath them. She looked down as if annoyed at the bed before she paused to stare at her daughter, a frown slowly forming at the edges of her lips. She wasn't sure what was worse: going through the pain and turmoil or being the one forced to watch, helpless.
"Mm, yeah like 20 minutes ago," the girl whispered, rubbing her temples with her thumbs as she waited anxiously for the nausea medicine to kick in.
"Oh, I brought you something!" her mother spoke up as if suddenly remembering and reached into her bag still residing on the chair. She wasted no time pulling out a fluffy, neon orange monster looking creature with a snaggle tooth and green eyes. "Isn't he precious! I found him at the store while I was checking out and he just screamed to me!" she said with such joy in her expression.
"Here, I bet he will help. You know you can't resist a stuffie, sweetheart," she reached over placing the creature in the girl's lap carefully, waiting for some sort of reaction from her daughter.
"Mom don't you think I'm a little old for stuffed animals? I'm almost 18," the girl said with a sigh as she finally released her hand from her head and twirled the orange fur between her fingers.
"Oh yeah, definitely." her mother laughed sarcastically. "In fact, judging from the enormous collection in your room I would definitely say that you had no use for the critters," her mother chuckled. It was true, she did have a lot of stuffed animals strewn about her room, all with unique names and personalities. Although, every time her mom had approached her about donating some of them to charity, she immediately felt guilty and worried they would think they did something wrong to cause them being shipped off somewhere new. She didn't like to think about it or how their lives might turn out as a result of her decision, so she resorted to keeping them all in her room. She didn't mind, and she was positive they didn't either.
"Thanks Mom," she managed to breathe out as she slowly maneuvered to sit up straight. She pulled the orange creature into her arms and exhaled sharply. The intensity of the nausea was beginning to subside and she couldn't tell if she had been holding her breath the entire time or if she was simply relieved.
"Ahhh, there's my girl! And to think you almost turned down a stuffie!" she chuckled as she stood up and began washing her hands in the sink near the door. "That would have been a first!" she concluded as her daughter watched the steam from the hot water bellow up in her face gracefully as if encircling her features one by one.
"The nurse brought me some apple juice, Mom" the girl suddenly said, appearing to be in perkier spirits. Her eyes were open wide for the first time that morning and she smiled a goofy smile as she took another sip. "It tastes even better when my stomach isn't trying to climb out my throat!" she smiled, still clutching the orange blob between her arm and side as she reached to place the cup back on the table.
"Have you eaten an-" her mom's voice was interrupted by a loud series of thuds on the outer door making them both jump slightly before turning to the doorway to see an elderly man in a white coat peering inside.
"Hope everyone is feeling chipper this morning! Especially you young lady, how's the pain level?" he asked flipping through page after page within the girl's chart.
"About a 3, same as it was this morning when the nurse asked me," the girl slowly took another sip of her juice. She didn't know if it was the nausea medicine or the apple juice that had suddenly made her feel more like herself but regardless, she was happy to be sitting up and mainly pain free. She almost felt normal.
"That's amazing! Of course our ideal number is zero but I'll take a 3 over a 10 any day, wouldn't you?" he said with a smile before pressing some buttons on her IV pump and scribbling notes on a sheet of paper. His nose was slightly crooked and his eyes showed a lot of wisdom that made the girl feel overwhelmingly safe when he was present. "We got your results back from your blood work this morning. You're levels are flatlining and haven't improved as much as we would have hoped by this point. You're cortisol levels are low again and so is your sodium level. All typical and nothing to be too concerned about; however, it is contributing to your increase in symptoms and your inability to keep food down. I'm going to send you down today for a CT scan just to be certain that there are no blockages or any other underlying root causes for all this. I feel like we are just dealing with the usual antics here, but like I said I just want to check all the paths before we cross that final bridge." He scratched his hair and pushed his thick black framed glasses up on the bridge of his nose.
The girl looked up at him still in the same bubbly mood as before. She discovered a while ago that it was best to tune herself out when the doctor was speaking about her condition. It wasn't that she wasn't interested, it was more so that it was always the same speech and the same discussion which she grew tired of hearing and predicting which way the doctor would take it. Her mom made up for it completely and asked a million questions each time as if this was the first she had ever heard words such as cortisol or CT. She watched her mom gesturing with her hands but heard the same silent echo within her that was so familiar and so welcomed. She blinked slowly a couple of times before noticing the dryness in the roof of her mouth and with a grimace she stretched out to reach for her apple juice. The cold liquid slithered its way down her throat and she felt it tickle the top of her stomach before disappearing. The tickle was always one of her favorite feelings and it made a smile appear slowly across her face. Feeling embarrassed, she quickly pulled the orange animal up over her lips to hide her grin before anyone noticed.
"-course we can't be 100 percent until we get the latest scans back, but our main goal now is to get her levels under control by adjusting her medications and getting her pain free." The doctor looked down and grinned at the girl curled up on the bed. He had been her physician for 6 years and she still had that childlike quality that flooded him with each visit. "We need to get you home so you can finish school," he chuckled.
School. He said it like she was actually missing important classes or that her teachers and other friends were wondering when she would return. She could barely remember what it was like to attend a real school. There was a school a couple of blocks away from her house that she attended when she was in her elementary years; however, when she started missing days here and there her mother decided out of the blue that she had always wanted to be a teacher and took her daughter on as a guinea pig. The girl didn't mind being home schooled, especially after her diagnosis, but she did wonder what it would be like to be around kids her age and be able to make friends in a normal way without her parents around. She settled with the thought that she missed theideaof school more than actually attending school as she took another sip of her juice silently.
When she came out of her fog to put the cup down she was surprised to find the conversation in front of her had ended and noticed the coat tail of the doctor flapping behind him as he made his way to the door. "Wait!" she blurted out, confusing herself for a second as to why she had called his attention.
He turned around quickly on his heel and smiled genuinely down at her while tapping the top of his pen repeatedly, his eyebrows raised wrinkling his forehead. His white hair was reflecting the bright lights that blared from the ceiling and his age spots were more noticeable suddenly as well. "W-when do you think I'll be able to eat again?" she managed to get out "I don't want to have one of those things that feed me, it creeps me out."
"As I just told you," he licked the outer edges of his lips as he stopped clicking his pen cap. "We will try a liquid diet today and if you can manage to keep it down we will gradually increase your intake. If you can't get food down by tomorrow night, we will be forced to order a feeding tube as you are already approaching dangerous vitamin levels. We don't need to mess up those figures too as we will bring on a host of other problems we don't want to have on our plate." He was stern when he spoke and it made a chill run through the girl's spine. She knew he was just trying to be honest about the seriousness of her condition, but she still felt a little taken back by his tone.
She nodded and snuggled back into the sea of orange fur silently and watched the doctor nod to her mother before exiting the room.
She glanced at her mother and noticed a gleam of fear in her eyes before it disappeared as quickly as it came. She wanted to ask her mom if everything would sort out like it usually did or if this time it was worse but she was too afraid of the answer to actually have the courage to ask.
"Well don't just lay there, what are you going to name that fellow?" her mom began dusting off her shirt as if crumbs or particles magically appeared before her.
The girl looked down at the snaggle tooth smile squished between her arms and felt confused. Normally she just picked whatever name popped into her head first but this time was different, this time nothing popped into her head at all. She wasn't sure what scared her more, the fact that she couldn't name the first stuffed animal of her life or the fact that there was nothing going on in her head. Both were equally terrifying. She was still for a moment and felt her heart throb against her ribcage as she realized she had no thoughts. There was nothing but silence around her and more importantly, there was a deafening silence within her that she couldn't stop.
Lunch had been sitting in front of her for nearly an hour. She was trying her hardest to get in the mindset to eat the food on the plate but her body kept sending her signals that if she so much as lifted any utensil, it would be hell on earth. Her mother sat across from her with a deep crease between her eyebrows as she stared into the girl's eyes. It wasn't a matter of whether the girl wanted to eat or not- nor had it ever been about want or desire for that matter. If it were up to that she was convinced she would weigh in at 800 lbs as she adored all types of food and, if her body allowed it, she would sit on the couch all day while watching cartoons and stuff her face. Her body always seemed to have other ideas and each time she would attempt to reach for the fork she felt her stomach flip and turn making her retreat her hand back in defeat.
Her tray was neutral and bare with only a bowl of chicken broth, warm tea, a small container of yellow jello and a cup of water with a tiny packet of lemon juice residing on it. It hardly looked delicious but she was damned if she was going to have one of those tubes shoved up her nose and go God only knows where. It probably deposited in her brain for all people knew.
She reached out with a determined glance toward her mother who sat silently in the exact same position as before. Her face seemed frozen. The girl lifted up the plastic bowl and placed it to her lips before slowly swallowing the brown liquid. She didn't particularly like the taste of broth as it reminded her of all the times she visited her grandfather in the nursing home when she found herself holding her nose each time he pulled her towards his chest. The thought nearly made her choke but she forced herself to drink the last of the broth before popping one of the squares of yellow jello into her mouth and swishing it back and forth between her teeth turning it into a liquid before swallowing.
"This stuff is so gross," she said gulping her tea and pouting towards her mom.
"Just eat it Honey and more importantly focus on keeping it down for Heaven's sake," her mother winced while shaking her head as if imagining the alternative.
The girl popped another cube of jello in her mouth before looking through the blinds and out into the real world that existed just beyond her grasp. She doubted that world would ever be hers to enjoy and she was surprisingly fine with that, it wasn't like she knew what she was missing. She felt oddly at peace with how her life had planned out and despite these moments with nasty chicken broth she was grateful for her world.
Right as she was nearly done with her lunch, a sudden twinge of pain shot up from the girl's abdomen as she swallowed the last of the jello before clutching her side in an attempt to cease the pain. "Uh oh" she exhaled slowly, squinting her eyes shut as nausea overwhelmed her and she eased herself back onto the bed. Her mother was up in a second wiping a strand of hair from her face and mumbling a bunch of words the girl couldn't understand.
Youcandothis. Youcandothis. It'sjustalittleliquid. Youcandoit.
She told herself over and over in her head as if her body could listen and respond from a little ego boost. "Mom, I don't think I can make it. I'm gonna be sick," she stated flatly a little ashamed of herself. Her mother's eyes went weak as she looked upon her daughter knowing what it would mean for her. She began humming aimlessly as she didn't know what else to do when she felt so out of control and helpless watching her daughter suffer.
The girl was breathing heavily while her eyes squeezed tightly shut trying to will her body to keep it down, to let the food nourish her body. Maybe it was all the stress too? Maybe it was everything all at once? She didn't know but she felt herself begin to panic which definitely didn't help the situation. Immediately her body began to heave and she felt her stomach start convulsing. She sat up abruptly nearly knocking her mother over as she jumped off the bed, not even bothering to put the socks on that were set out at the foot of her bed. She scrambled to the bathroom before stopping in front of the toilet. She knelt down and looked up, willing whoever was protecting her to keep her from being sick. Her body was sore and her vision was beginning to go blurry as she began staring at the water beneath her. She didn't want to give in as that would mean failure, her disease would win again and she hated being the loser.
After a period of silence, the girl heard a faint whisper, "Baby, don't hold it, you can't help this." Her mother stood in the doorway looking at her daughter kneeling broken on the floor, "it's okay."
As if that was what she needed to hear, the girl let go of everything she had been holding back. The fear, anxiety, and worry came out as she heaved in the bathroom with her complete backside exposed to her mother and God knows who else. Her body seemed violent, angry and determined to make her pay for what she had done and with each convulsion she felt the pain rip through her body as the smell of lysol enveloped her nose and her vision went too blurry for her to care.
"I'm going to be stuck in here forever!" the girl pouted as she flicked through the channels of the TV for something she found slightly entertaining but so far she had found nothing that spiked her interest.
"Ah dear, you'll be out of here in no time just like usual," her mother sat flipping through a magazine at the foot of the bed. It was getting dark outside and it had been several hours since the girl had christened the bathroom with that God forsaken chicken broth at lunch. Millie had come in shortly after the explosion and loaded her up on pain meds, another round of nausea meds, and her normal prescribed regimen before letting her know that she was heading home and some other nurse would come introduce herself. No one had been in the room since and the girl was getting very frustrated and bored with only herself and her mother as entertainment.
She had always been known as the happy, sweet girl who never let anything bring a frown to her face but lately she found herself so eager to eat and have energy that she was pouting more than usual. She found a cartoon station and threw the remote at the foot of the bed nearly hitting her mother in the process before pulling the covers up around her neck as she leaned into the orange fluffy creature at her side. .
"Honey, I know you are upset about earlier, but you'll try again tonight. I know you can do it," she whispered the last part almost as if she was reassuring herself more than she was her daughter.
"I'm fine, Mom. Really," the girl responded as she grabbed the orange fur ball and tucked it under her head and focused her eyes on the television. "I have an idea, why don't we check with the doctors and see if you can eat outside on the sundeck tonight? Wouldn't that be great?" her mother's enthusiasm was contagious and the girl found her mouth begin to curl up in a smile.
"Sure" she snuggled her mouth back underneath the bleached blanket effectively hiding her smile as her mother wasted no time exiting the room to approach the nurses station.
The entire time her mother was gone, which felt like 30 minutes but it was probably only 5 or 10, she thought of having to get a tube shoved up her nose. She envisioned her brain getting pumped full of white liquid by mistake and her stomach being pissed and trying to climb up her throat to get some. The rest of the time she spent wondering what kind of medicine she was on to make her have such crazy thoughts about her internal organs before deciding that maybe she was just really imaginative or maybe it was a combination of both.
"Well!" her mom barged in the room slightly out of breath, "What an ordeal that was, I swear you'd think they run a zoo with the way they keep all their patients caged in like wild animals!" She fanned herself briefly and rolled her eyes before sliding down in her chair.
"They finally agreed because I kept insisting it was the only way you would possibly keep your food down. I also told them that at least this way if you got sick they wouldn't have to spend an hour decontaminating your room because it would be all over the sundeck," she said with a smirk.
"Gross, Mom," the girl cringed before changing her positions with ease as she smiled realizing that the pain medicine was helping tremendously. When she had gone earlier in the day for her CT scan she had struggled to lay still on the hard board during the 20 min scan. Her body ached and she felt so heavy she couldn't move to feel more comfortable even if she wanted to. Luckily it was soon after that when she received the pain medicine and she had spent the majority of the afternoon with the ability to move whenever she felt like it, which was a rare but welcomed occurrence.
"Health Services," a male voice announced from the doorway as he carried in a beige tray with nothing but beige bowls resting on top in an unorganized manner. "Enjoy" he said before turning to leave the room. The girl detected a hint of sarcasm in his tone and rolled her eyes, sighing deeply as she stared at the tray before her and felt panic rise up in her abdomen at the thought of repeating earlier.
"Oh yay," her mother was already hopping up and sticking her head out of the door to call one of the nurses into her room. "My daughter has been given permission to eat up on the sundeck, we just need to get her situated in a wheelchair and we can be on our way!" Her mom sounded so excited as if she was about to do something really big with her daughter like going to get a pedicure before prom or pictures before a wedding. The girl didn't know if it made her happy or sad that her mom was so excited.
The nurse helped the girl into the wheelchair and attached her IV pole to the side before placing the tray in her lap while rattling off instructions to her mother at a rate the girl couldn't pick up on easily. The girl realized that the nurse had never introduced herself until now and even then she didn't know the woman's name nor did she really care to. The chair started abruptly as her mother began weaving her down this hallway and down the next before stopping at the elevator and pushing the button.
"I don't know about you but I am totally psyched," her mom began tickling the girl's shoulder.
"Me too," the girl eventually got out a little hesitantly. She was not looking forward to eating but she was glad to be out of her room.
In what seemed like no time at all, they were outside on the edge of the sundeck parked closest to the girl's favorite fountain. There were 4 lights within the water that changed colors by the second, illuminating the fountain in shades of blue, green, purple, and pink. It was a nice contrast to the black sky that blanketed out over the horizon and the sound of the crashing water seemed to sooth any nerves the girl had been trying to keep hidden. She almost forgot about the hospital, the nausea, and her hatred for her backless gown until her mom opened the lids of all her dishes in one quick motion. She sighed and shoved her tray away nearly knocking it off her lap in the process.
"I can't, I don't want to get sick here. This place is my favorite, and it's beautiful," she whispered with a hint of a tear in the corner of her eyes.
"You have to, you heard what the doctor said and you know the alternative. I don't want to see you like that, do you understand? Now, sit up and try to get this stuff down and keep it there," her mother's eyes pierced the air between them. Her tone had gone from overjoyed to stern in a matter of seconds and the girl seemed hurt yet at the same time unphased.
"No!" the girl pushed the tray again to the point that her mom had to collect it before it fell to the ground. "Just leave me alone," it was almost inaudible and her mother had to strain to be sure she heard her daughter correctly. It hurt to say the words to her mother but she felt like she was about to suffocate and she wanted a few minutes to herself to just stare into oblivion and enjoy her favorite spot before it too became ruined.
With a thud her mom placed the tray on the table next to them and walked off abruptly back into the hospital without so much as a backward glance or any hesitation. The girl stared into the fountain again as her eyes glazed over and she felt the familiar sting announcing the presence of tears.
It wasn't that she cared that she was sick, it was more so that she was tired of being sick so frequently. It seemed like there was always something wrong or some doctor to visit or some medicine to take. She took a deep breath staring at the tray next to her and gulped back air and the taste of bile as she realized she wouldn't be able to eat it. This time tomorrow she would have a tube up her nose. The thought made her head spin and she gripped the sides of her wheelchair while silently being grateful that the deck wasn't as crowded as usual. She hated bringing attention to herself, especially in such an emotional state.
She closed her eyes and felt the night air hit her face and leave her skin tingling in its wake as she tried to slow her breathing to match the waves of sound created by the water. It hadn't taken her long to calm herself down before she was trying to think of a name for the creature within her grasp. "Barnaby" she whispered but immediately stuck her tongue out in disgust. "Flan-" she was stopped abruptly by a loud crash behind her making her whip her head around to look towards the back of the sundeck.
A girl who seemed to be around the same age as herself had stormed onto the deck knocking over several chairs in the process. It was too dark to notice much of anything else as shadows danced on the walls behind the mysterious girl. "WHAT is everyone staring at...haven't you seen someone make an ass out of themselves before? Was it that enjoyable, do you need an encore?" she snapped, throwing her hands in the air. The girl could make out people trying to make their way inside or at least away from the disgruntled teen as she felt a spray of water hit her back carried by a gust of wind. She felt her hatred for the gown increase as she pulled the gap shut causing her elbow to hit her tray as it fell to the ground. Silence filled the air around her once again as she looked from the tray to the few people left on the sundeck. "Damn, I started a trend," the familiar sound of the loud girl's voice echoed behind her as she tried to reach for the tray that had landed by her feet.
"Ugh, hospitals. I hate being in this damn place, it does things to a person, " the raspy voice spoke from behind her and sounded to be fairly close in distance. The girl was too nervous to respond so instead she sat up and remained quiet hoping the silence would encourage the female to simply walk away to find someone else to bark nonsense to.
The girl turned slightly in her wheelchair and saw a dark shadow a couple of feet behind her with its arms folded tightly across its chest. She was positive she herself looked like a shadow as well but couldn't help her curiosity and her desire to stare. "Hold up, is there a reason you think it's okay to stare at me like I'm in a fishbowl?" her voice broke through the silence causing the girl to snap her head back to the fountain quicker than she knew was possible. The colors changed more times than she could count as her heart raced within her chest. She wanted to look to see if the girl was still behind her but she was afraid that she would be yelled at if she was in fact still sulking in her ominous shadow.
"Don't think I'm over you copying my loud disruption or the fact that you treated me like I was on display at some lame museum, cause I'm totally not. But... I will admit you have found the best spot in this damn hospital, this fountain kinda has a way of calming you down," the shadow replied with a heavy sigh that she seemed to have been holding for a while. There was a long silence and nothing else was said for what seemed like forever. Almost silently and nearly unnoticed the girl walked and sat at the table where a tray of food once sat. "If you see some spanish lady burst out here yelling in Spanish, pretend I'm not here would ya? I'll dive into the fountain," she sniffled before she finally looked up making eye contact with the girl in the wheelchair for the first time. For a moment or maybe more everything seemed eerily quiet, the crashing sound of the fountain seemed lost as the vibrant colors danced across both girls faces. Deep brown eyes met bright blue for a period in which neither seemed to be able to look away before the two exchanged chuckles and finally averted their gaze.
"Why are you hiding, and did you do all that on purpose?" the patient quietly spoke waving behind her as she tucked a loose strand of blonde hair behind her ear. The Latina looked up and a small smirk played at the corner of her lips. "Excuse me, do I know you?" she said as she placed her hand underneath her chin and rested her head while staring at the girl before her. The stranger's hair was black, but it wasn't like nurse Snow White's. No, it was smooth, silky and cascaded down the girl's back in soft curls. Immediately the blonde felt inferior and embarrassed for speaking to the girl about such an intimate topic without even knowing her. She reached down to cover herself with the blanket that was sprawled on her lap before glancing back up only to find the same brown eyes staring back at her. She felt her stomach flip and for a second she questioned whether it was with nausea or fear that the girl in front of her was angry again. She reached down and flicked the snaggle tooth hanging out of the unnamed creatures mouth. She didn't know why but she couldn't help the smile that automatically started forming on her face and she tried to stop it but it continued without her permission.
"How about I start? It's real easy, watch" the girl's voice broke the air when she began by flipping a ringlet behind her shoulder as she leaned a little with her elbows on the table inspecting the tray on the ground before grimacing. "My name's Santana annnd whatever thatwas...it doesn't look edible. You were right to copy my rage and toss it to the ground," she gestured to the tray. A small chuckle made its way from the lips of the blonde as she felt her body tingle with nerves.
"It was supposed to be my dinner," she pointed a finger down her throat and made a gagging face. "Before the rage, obviously," the other girl smirked. The blonde didn't look up but continued looking down at her hands for a period of time as an unknown feeling began rising in the pit of her stomach. She glanced up at the girl opposite of her before taking a deep breath "I'm Brittany."