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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17. Firth

The nurses would boot us out of the hospital a lot as that summer progressed. We basically lived there, arriving at 7 AM and sometimes not leaving until 9 PM. The doctors halfheartedly told us to get outside and get some fresh air, to which Daniel replied,
“I’ll get fresh air when my sister wakes up, thanks.”
That shut them up.

So there we were in mid-June. I was reading Ulysses by James Joyce, Mia was fiddling with a Rubix Cube, and Daniel was doing God knows what.
“Pass me a water please.” Mia said wanly, fanning herself with one hand.
Daniel chucked her a bottle and went back to staring at his feet.
“Uh…”

Silence. We all went very still. You could have heard a pin drop in that room. Suddenly we’re scrambling over to the side of the bed, hoping against hope we hadn’t imagined it.

“Where am I?”
I met the blue eyes that I had yearned to see for so long and gripped Mia’s and Daniel’s hands for support.
“Jackie?” I whispered, voice trembling.
She nodded, clearly confused.
“Where are we?”
“Hang on!” I burst out, dragging Daniel forward. We needed to test her memory.
“Who’s this?”
“That’s Daniel, my twin brother.” Jackie answered.
I whooped and hugged Daniel. He gripped me tightly, hands shaking. Mia shoved her way forward.
“Who am I?” she demanded to know.
“You’re Mia. You’re my best friend. But why are you asking all these questions?”
“Just one more.” I reassured her, taking her hand.
“Jackie, do you know who I am?” I asked, holding my breath.
“You’re Firth.”
Daniel screamed in pure ecstasy, jumped up, strode over to Mia and kissed her full on the mouth.
“She’s awake!” he cried, grinning like crazy.
Mia stared at him in amazement, flooding a brilliant red color. I left them alone and turned back to Jackie. Leaning down, I kissed her gently.
I’d envisioned our reunion for a long time. I expected for there to be tears, hugs, and basically, over all joy. I thought Jackie would be as happy to see me as I was to see her. What I never imagined was for Jackie’s hands to go to my chest and shove me away from her.
“Why are you kissing me!” she exclaimed, eyes wide and frightened.
“Jackie-I –Jackie, it’s me! It’s Firth!” I stammered.
“I can see that!”
“But I’m-“
“You’re Daniel’s best friend. Have been since kindergarten.”
“But, Jackie, I’m your boyfriend!” I said hoarsely.
Her eyes narrowed.
“My boyfriend was Colin McDonald. We broke up three months ago.”
I sat back down with a thump, the breath knocked out of me.
“Jackie, what day is it?” I asked, praying she’d say the correct date.
Her answer confirmed my suspicions. Jackie didn’t remember the past year. But it was so much worse. Jackie also didn’t remember being in love with me.
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