The Ones Left Waiting

You know when someone gets sick? Isn't everyone's first thought automatically about them? Worrying about them, wondering if they're okay? Of course, this is how it should be. But sometimes we forget the people closest to the patient: their best friend, their boyfriend, their brother? How does it affect them?

Jackie Bianco has a brain tumor. She has mere months to live, unless a miracle occurs. But this is not her story. This is the story of Daniel, her twin brother, who needs his calm sister to keep him under control. This is the story of Mia, her best friend, who is like a lost soul without her partner in crime. And this is the story of Firth, the love of Jackie's life, who will surely die without her.

This is the story of the people sitting in the waiting room, the people with nothing left to do but worry. The ones left waiting for news, good or bad.

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12. Daniel

Firth approached me at school the next day, his jaw set.
“Okay, I know you’re going through a tough time right now. We all are. But why are you being such a jerk to Mia?”
I scowled. With Firth being the morally upright guy that he was, I’d been expecting this. However, I’d been hoping he’d surprise me and take a turn on the wild side, but it was to no avail.
“I have to make her hate me.” I said, lowering my voice.
“We can’t like each other. We’d end up killing one another if we did!”
“We have proof of that.” Firth said coldly.
“But that doesn’t make it okay to act totally cruel to her.”
“Shut up, Firth!” I said angrily.
“You don’t know anything about me or my feelings. The only relationship you’ve ever had is a perfect one with my sister!”
My words clearly stung him. Firth gritted his teeth, clearly trying to remain calm.
“It has not been perfect.” He said softly.
“Jackie got brain cancer and now she’s in a FREAKING COMA! You call that perfect?” he snarled, shoving past me.

When I got home, I went straight to the supplies cabinet of the restroom. Firth and I fighting pushed me over the precarious edge I’d been standing on. I grabbed my razor and, gritting my teeth, pressed it against the skin on my knuckles. I hissed as the pain sprang up, but kept going. The physical pain hurt more than the mental pain. I needed that. Suffering that takes away suffering. I shut my eyes and let the blood flow. My hands were so ruined, no one would notice anyway.

Fat chance. Mia, observant girl she is, noticed straightaway.
“What the hell is this!” she exclaimed, grabbing my hand at lunch the next day.
“Nothing.” I muttered, snatching my hand away.
“It doesn’t look like nothing. Firth, look what the idiot’s done now!”
Firth looked sick, probably because he knew why I’d done it.
“Daniel, you can’t do that.” He said, looking pale but determined.
“That cannot make anything remotely better.”
“It makes me feel better.” I told him matter-of-factly.
“And there’s nothing you can say or do to stop me from doing it.”
“We sure as hell can!” Mia said, pulling out a Sharpie.
“Oh, what are you going to do?” I taunted.
“Draw on me?”
“Yes.” Mia said, narrowing her eyes.

She proceeded to draw a butterfly on the outside of my hands and write Jackie’s name on its wings.
“Oh, yeah. How is this going to help?” I said sarcastically.
“Because now if you cut, you’re hurting Jackie, not just yourself.” Mia replied.

She struck a chord. I visibly winced and stared at my hand, shuddering.
“See? Now you won’t do it ever again.”
“Yeah, whatever.” I said shrugging this off.
But I never would.


There was still the question of informing my parents of my newly acquired habit. Firth was dead set on telling them straight away, but Mia stopped him.
“Give him a few days.” She said.
“If he does it again, by all means, tell them. But give the fool a chance first.”
I thought this was generous, given how horribly I’d treated her two days before.
“But what do we do with him until then?” Firth asked, tugging his hair.
“I’m right here, guys. Thanks for acknowledging my presence.” I said loudly.
They ignored me. Of course.
“I’m working on that.” Mia said with an evil grin.
“What I have in mind would get Daniel to take out his aggression in a reasonable way, and I would get to practice my karate skills.”
Heaven help me.

Over the weekend, Firth dragged me to Mia’s house for, and I quote, “Some basic karate instruction.” That’s Firth’s kind way of terming “Daniel’s death by martial arts.” Mia was in her basement, which is basically a mini dojo. I shrugged off my hoodie and rolled my shoulders.
“Okay, let’s get this over with.”
Mia smirked at me.
“This isn’t easy, Daniel. Karate is an art, and it takes years to master it.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. So we better get started, right?”
Before I knew what was happening, Mia’s foot had swung around and knocked my legs out from under me. I fell to the ground and Mia sat on top of me, grinning.
“What was that for?” I asked indignantly.
“You wanted to get started, so I started. First rule, respect your sensei. Second rule, expect the unexpected. Third rule, don’t talk back. You just broke all three in quick succession.”
Firth laughed and I glared up at him.
“Thanks, bro, real vote of confidence.” I grumbled.
Mia stood up and hauled me up.
“I’m going to enjoy this.” She said, eyes gleaming.

Two hours later, I was in a total haze of pain. Firth practically had to carry me to his car. I sank into the seat and groaned.
“That was torture!”
“You deserved it.”
I laughed bitterly and clicked on my seat belt.
“She’s a demon! Did you see how quickly she kicked me?”
“I repeat, you deserved it.”
At my face, he relents.
“Okay, maybe not all of it. You do look pretty pathetic right now. And you’ll want to put some ice on those bruises.”
He laughed and caught my eye, grinning.
“So, do you still have feelings for Mia?”
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