"I'm sorry Miss Vega. I'll give you the names of our best specialists. They will do the best they can."
Tori took the file her doctor had given her and walked out of his office without saying a word. She didn't know what to say. She didn't know what to think. She didn't understand why this was happening to her. A certain specter of emotions was fuming inside her. It went from anger to fear, and everything that came between. One moment she wants to drop on the ground and cry. The other moment she wants to throw a tantrum and break everything inside a room. Then a moment of serenity hits her, telling herself that everything is going to be fine.
Right now, she was walking outside of the hospital. She was glad that she came, yet at the same time wished she never found out what was going on. She had ignored the pain for too long. At first the pain was small. Barely noticeable. It was more annoying than it was painful. Then it became worse. It became tolerable. But as time passed, it became worse. It came to the point that she couldn't stand by herself. She either had to sit down or lie down, and wait until it was gone. It became so bad that she would run out of classes into the restroom and simply collapse there until the pain went away. She didn't tell anyone. She tried to convince herself that it would go away. That she would be better if she let time heal it. That she could walk it off, and that mentality might cost her everything. She would have continued her game of ignoring and denying had Trina not found her at home, lying in the toiled and clinching her stomach. Trina immediately wanted to tell their parents, but Tori didn't want to. She didn't want them to worry. She didn't want anyone to worry. She even lied, telling her that she must have eaten something bad. Trina didn't buy it. She gave her an ultimatum. Go to the doctor, or she would tell them. And now, after Tori had done the first, the second one became unavoidable.
She didn't know where she was walking. Her feet were going by themselves, while her mind was preoccupied with every possible scenario that would happen. How would her parents react? Would they be sad? Would they be angry that she was so dumb and didn't go to the doctor sooner? Would they be mad that she didn't tell them? Would they reassure her that everything would be fine? She didn't know. She didn't know anything right now. She only knew one thing. She was sick. Very sick.
"Hey, Tori!" the familiar voice snapped her out of the mess her thoughts were. She turned around to see Andre walking towards her. She hadn't even noticed that she was close to his home. She didn't even know for how long she had been wandering around.
"Hey." She weakly told him, stopping and waiting for him to catch up. She saw his expression change when he came closer. He rushed towards her, his usual bright, wide smile being replaced by worry.
"What's wrong?" He asked, placing his hands on her arms.
"Nothing. Why?" Tori asked in a weak voice. She tried to be convincing, but she was failing miserably. She didn't have the strength to do it. She couldn't focus on it, as much as she tried.
"Don't tell me it's nothing." He said in a worried tone.
"Why do you think that something is wrong?" she asked him, trying to be more convincing. But her voice only became weaker. It became harder for her to even think straight. He moved one hand to her face and slowly brushed of a tear from her cheek with his thumb. She looked at it. She didn't even notice that she had been crying. She didn't notice that she was crying right now.
"Tori, did something happen?" he asked again, his voice soft, yet filled with concern. She weakly shook her head before she began crying openly. He wrapped his arms around her and let her sob into his chest. He expected her to collect herself soon, but she didn't. They stood there like this for fifteen more minutes. Her crying didn't stop. It didn't get weaker. He could swear it became worse the longer it lasted.
"Come on, I'll take you to my place." He told her as he moved towards her side, one arm around her waist, the other one holding her hand. After five minutes, they were at his place. He walked her over to his living room and sat her down. He silently thanked god that his grandmother was spending some time with his aunt now, so he had the house all for himself. After getting some lemonade from the kitchen, he walked over to the living room, placed in on the table in front of Tori and sat down next to her. She still hadn't stopped crying.
"Tori, please, what happened?" he asked her again, cupping her cheeks and making her look at him. She saw her brown eyes for a moment before she closed them again and continued crying. He pulled her closer to him, hugging her and trying to calm her down. Then he noticed a large paper envelope on the table.
"What's this?" he asked, but got no answer. "Can I see what's in there?" he asked again. He felt her nodding. He took the envelope and opened it. He took out a few x-rays and quickly looked at them. Then he took out a sheet of paper. He held it in one hand, the other arm still wrapped around his crying best friend. He read everything on the paper and looked back at her. His jaw dropped.
"No." he gasped as he read the last few lines again, then again, then again. He must have read them at least a hundred times. He didn't believe it. He couldn't believe it. He didn't want to. It couldn't be. Not her. Not something like this. He placed both hands on her shoulder as he pushed her away a bit so she would face him.
"Tori, tell me that this is not true?" he said in a desperate voice. "Please, tell me that this is some sick joke!"
"I… I wish I could tell you that. But it's true." She said trough her sobs.
"This can't be."
"But it is."
"How? This didn't just come overnight Tori. This can't just happen."
"It didn't. Trust me… it…it… it didn't." she said before breaking down again. He wrapped his arms around her again. He felt his chest tighten. He found it hard to breathe. He began choking up himself. Soon, tears were running down his cheek too. He took the paper one more time. He read it again, hoping that he read it wrong the hundred times before. He read it one more time, four words that would stay burned within his memory forever: Cervical cancer, stage II.
He tried to remember biology classes. They had done some types of cancer, but that was a long time ago. He cursed himself when he still couldn't remember anything about it. He knew what it was and what it affected, but he didn't know any details. He wanted to scream. He wanted to break something. He became angry: angry at life; at god for letting this happen to his best friend. "Why is this happening to her!" he shouted in his head. This wasn't fair. This wasn't supposed to happen.
"What did the doctor say?" Andre finally asked after a long silence.
"I… I need surgery." Tori weakly sobbed.
"Alright, you will have surgery, they remove it, and then you will be fine."
"It's… not that easy." She weakly said. He sighed. He knew it wasn't. He simply didn't know what to say. He wouldn't show her that he was on the edge of crying himself. He couldn't do that. She needed support. She needed someone strong next to her.
"Tell me then."
"The success rate of healing is around fifty percent." She weakly said. She felt Andre tense up at the information. Fifty percent. Her life was based on a chance equal to a coin toss.
"If the surgery doesn't help, I'll need to have chemotherapy. And if that doesn't work…"
"It will. It must work. You can't think like this." He cut her off, realizing where she was going. He didn't want to hear it. He didn't want to think about that option. He didn't care about the chances. He knew that Tori would make it. She had to make it.
He felt hot tears run down his own cheek. The situation had just now really hit him. She is sick. Very sick.
"Even if it works, if I get better, the doctor said that it can come back at any time. There is a chance that I won't be able to have kids… Why is this happening to me?" she finally asked before breaking down again.
"Do your parents know?" he asked her. She only shook her head. He cupped her cheeks with his both hands. She looked into his dark eyes, watching the tears form in his eyes.
"You will make it. I'll be there for you. I promise. I won't let you go trough this by yourself." He told her, his voice breaking in the end. He hugged her again, swearing to himself that he would be there for her. That he would do everything he can to help her. He would stay at the hospital forever if he had to. He would sleep on a chair or heck, even the cold floor if necessary. But one thing was clear, crystal clear, to him. She would make it. She had to.