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.


4. Firth

I headed to my car and slammed the door shut. I hated fighting with her. We’d actually never fought on that level before. But Jackie couldn’t stop fighting. If she gave up and surrendered, we’d never get oust this damn cancer.
I switched on the radio to distract myself from my own anger and then grimaced as “Sweet Caroline” came on. Swearing, I sped home.
A few days passed. I missed Jackie with an ache so strong it hurt. Mia called my house to make me see sense.
“Okay, you and Jackie need to make up. She literally hasn’t stopped crying.”
I sighed and then replied,
“Mia, she’s talking about her death! I can’t imagine losing her.”
“Well, you’re going to!” she snapped back.
“If she doesn’t have this operation, you are going to lose her!”
I groaned and Mia spoke again,
“Look, I know you love her. That’s obvious. We all love her. You need to make up, because she might-“
Her voice trailed off and then she tried again,
“She might not be around. And then you’ll regret fighting with her for the rest of your life.”
With that she hung up. I slammed the phone back on the receiver, enraged. Jackie didn’t deserve this! She was a sweet, caring person who hadn’t hurt a single soul in her life. Either there wasn’t a God, or he was a totally monster.
I drove like a mad man to the Bianco’s house. I rapped loudly on the door and waited for it to open. Jackie answered it, leaning heavily on the doorframe. Her eyes were red and puffy, and I instantly felt like a despicable human being.
“Firth-“she started,
I stopped her with a kiss, gently pulling her close.
“I’m sorry.” I whispered into her ear.
I kissed her again and she wrapped her arms around my neck.
“All right, put her down.” Daniel said warmly, clapping me on the shoulder.
Jackie and I blushed and I hurriedly released her.
“Come to your senses, have you?” he asked, winking.
“Hush, Daniel.” Jackie said, standing closer to me. I put my arm around her and Daniel laughed.
“Okay, I know you’re happy to see each other and all, but please! Hands to yourselves, if humanely possible!”
“It’s not.” Jackie told him, kissing me one last time.

The day of Jackie’s operation dawned. We all gathered to wish her well early in the morning and then headed off to school. But I couldn’t stand it. Her operation wasn’t until 1 o’clock. So at 11:45, I ditched school and drove straight to the hospital.
So, after an epic saga of back roads, short-cuts and nearly colliding with a cyclist, I made it to the hospital. Little did I expect to be stopped outside if Jackie’s room by a nurse.
“Please, Nurse Isabella!” I cajoled.
“I’m sorry, Firth.” She said briskly, straightening papers.
“But only family are allowed in right now.”
“Say I’m her cousin then!”
“We’ve all see you kiss her enough! You clearly aren’t cousins!” she snapped.
I groaned. If it had been any other nurse, I could have gotten in. But Isabella was a battle axe and always followed rules.
“Please!” I begged.
“I swear, I will never ask you for anything ever again. Just let me see her now!”
“I’m sorry.” She said, really sounding like she was.
“I just can’t.”
Tears blurred my vision and I turned away, planning on sticking around in the waiting room. Head bowed, I started to move down the hallway.
I whirled around, hurriedly wiping my eyes.
“You’ve got five minutes.”
Whooping, I picked Nurse Isabella up and spun her around.
“Thank you!”
She tottered on her staid heels as I set her down, grabbing my arm for support.
“Well! You’re down to four minutes and forty eight seconds. Now go before I change my mind!”
I hurried into the room. Just as the door closed, I could have sworn I heard her laugh.

Jackie lay on a bed, looking through heavy-lidded eyes, sleepy from medication.
“School let out early or something?” she asked with a wan smile.
“Eh, they didn’t need me.” I said nonchalantly, sitting down.
“Now, Firth,” she chided.
“We’ll never get into college together if you ditch.”
This was an on-going joke between us. We swore we would go to school together next fall.
“I think this is slightly more important, don’t you?” I replied, taking her hand. She limply squeezed my fingers in return.
“Are you positive you want to do this, Jackie?” I asked desperately.
“Firth, consider this. This time tomorrow I might be cancer-free.”
“Or you might be dead.”
“It’s a risk I want to take.”
“Jackie, this might sound melodramatic, but I honestly won’t go on living if you die.”
“Yes you will.” She said firmly.
“”You’d miss me. But you’d carry on and eventually move on.”
I kissed her palm, my tears dropping onto the bedspread.
“Don’t do that.” She said softly, wiping my cheeks with her thumb.
“Don’t cry. I’ll be fine.”
“You don’t know that, though.”
She caressed my cheek gently.
“When I am ever wrong?” she asked with a brave smile.

I leaned down and dried my eyes on the sheet. Jackie took my head and placed it on her chest so I could hear the steady beat of her heart.
“I’ll be fine.” She whispered in my ear.
I sighed and released the tension from my shoulders. This strange embrace was oddly soothing.

Nurse Isabella entered.
“Well, that position certainly doesn’t look very cousinly!” she said brightly.
I jerked backward, a blush flooding my cheeks.
“I assume my five minutes have passed?” I asked with as much as dignity as I could muster.
“Yes, they have.”
I swore without thinking and then clapped my hands over my mouth. I hardly ever curse.
“Sorry,” I muttered to the nurse, head bowed.
Nurse Isabella burst out laughing.
“Honey, I’ve worked here for over twenty years. I’ve heard enough curse words in my time.”
I smiled at her a turned back to Jackie, putting a hand on her shoulder.
“I’ve got to go.” I said softly.
“Bye.” She breathed.

Nurse Isabella had to practically drag me from the room. In the lobby, I found Mia and Daniel.
“You could have told us you were ditching!” Daniel cried indignantly when he saw me.
“I would have come!”
“Is there still a chance of seeing her?” Mia cut in.
I shook my head.
“She’s getting ready for pre-op right now.”
Mia swore and Daniel kicked the wall.
“So now we wait.” Mia said, flouncing down into a chair.
I sat down beside her and pulled out a book. Mia smiled when she saw its title; Pride and Prejudice. My and Jackie’s favorite book of all time.
The waiting game had begun.
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