Falling

Jess is just starting her second semester of being a Junior in high school. To start the semester off, she volunteers to show the new kid around the school. Mainly because she gets to skip gym class, but also because she is intrigued by the idea of meeting someone new. Over the first month of school, Jess becomes really close friend with the new student, but who wouldn't become best friends with Louis Tomlinson. He's funny, entertaining, and not to mention cute, but Jess would never admit to thinking that. Louis is always there for Jess, especially when she gets heart shattering news that changes everything.

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9. Eight.

In less than ten minutes I was in my car, following my parents to the hospital. My stomach was churning and causing me to feel very queasy. I felt uneasy, like I was leaning over the edge of a cliff and in one move, I would fall into the unknown. It felt like my world was crashing down around me. Again.

I had to pull over when I could no longer breathe. I tried to calm myself down but I couldn't stop myself from crying and taking in short, shallow breaths. My whole body shook as I tried to clear my mind and focus on something to ease my brain, but nothing worked. Everything was blurring around me in a wave of motion that caused my head to spin. I was having panic attack. So, I did the only thing that I could think of.

I called Louis.

“Jess?” He answered after the first ring.

“Louis, I can't breathe,” I cried.

“What's going on?” Louis sounded worried.

“I'm going to see Jared,” I chocked on my breath. “Louis, I can't do this.”

“Jess, just breathe. Focus on taking even breaths. Everything is going to be okay.”

“How do you know that?” I took in a sharp breath.

Louis spoke calmly. “Just breathe.”

I shut my eyes and forced myself to take in even breaths. I counted as high as I could as I breathed in and out, in and out. When my body relaxed, I opened my eyes again. I wiped my eyes and sat up straighter in my seat.

“Thank you,” I said to Louis.

“No problem,” I could hear his smile. “Text me when you get there, so I know you made it okay.”

“Will do,” I said goodbye as I hung up. I focused back on the road and continued driving to the hospital. When I got there, I focused back on my breathing and pulled out my phone to text Louis.

To Lou Bear: I'm going in now. I'll let you know how he's doing.

From Lou Bear: Okay, I hope he's doing whale.

I laughed.

To Lou Bear: Again with the puns?

From Lou Bear: You know you love it.

I smiled at my phone, sliding it into my pocket as I got out of my car. I saw my parents and John standing in the lobby, talking to a nurse. I let out a shaky breath and walked over to them.

“Hi,” I said, my voice coming out weak.

“Are you okay, Jess? We saw you pull over and got a little nervous,” my dad asked.

“Yeah, I just needed a second to breathe,” I replied. I smiled at my parents then looked at the nurse who was still standing with us.

“Hi. I'm Laura, and I've been working with your brother this past week,” she said, her overly happy personality rubbing me the wrong way. “Do you want to go see Jared now?”

I nodded, my heart fluttering at the idea of seeing Jared again. As we walked to his room, I felt a little hand slide into mine. I looked down to see John smiling up at me.

“Don't be scared, Jessi,” his sweet voice whispered.

“Thank you,” I squeezed his hand.

“Alright. Jess, is this your first time seeing your brother since he started treatment?” The nurse, whose name I had already forgotten, asked.

“Yeah,” I replied.

Okay, well, as I said earlier, my name is Laura. In this time, we have been able to discover the exact prognosis for Jared's case and create a plan for his treatment. As you already know, he does have Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. What you don't know, is that it has spread throughout his body to his liver and his cerebrospinal fluid, meaning the fluid around his brain and spinal cord. This caused us to make a few changes Jared's treatment plan. We started him on a more intense chemotherapy, which was given to him five days ago, causing him to have worse reactions than we had initially hoped. Nothing too serious, just a longer period of tiredness and nausea. He was pretty sick for a couple days, but he's coming back around.”

Does he look really sick?”

He definitely doesn't look like himself. He'll look really tired and weak, but just keep in mind that he's still your little brother. He's still the same person and his personality hasn't changed one bit. Don't get caught up on how he looks, he still acts the same as when he first came here.”

Do you know what comes next in his treatment?”

We won't be able to continue on until it reaches the seven day mark since his first treatment,” Laura explained. “Are you ready to see him?” She gestured to the door that we had stopped at.

“Can I go in alone?” I asked quietly, looking at my mom.

“Of course you can, sweetie,” she smiled and pulled me into a hug. I let my arms wrap around her and tried my best to hold back my tears. “We'll meet you back at home when you're done.”

Laura walked my family back down the hallway and I was soon left alone outside of Jared's room. Before I went in, I thought about what I would see when I opened the door. I wasn't ready to see him sick and laying in a hospital bed. I wasn't ready to see him weak and helpless. I wasn't ready to see my brother for the first time since I found out he has cancer. The only thing that gave me the strength to open the door was the fast that he needed me. He needed his big sister, who has taken care of him after school for his whole life, who has supported him through everything. He needed me as much as I needed him.

When I opened the door, I saw Jared laying in bed watching his favorite cartoon. I stepped into the room, catching Jared's attention. It broke my heart to see his eyes instantly light up and a huge, but weak, smile spread across his face.

“Jess!” He exclaimed, pushing a button on his bed, causing the mattress to move up so he was in a seated position.

“Hey, buddy,” I said, walking over to him. He looked so sick and brittle, like an antique China doll that would shatter into a million pieces if I were to touch him. There were dark circles under his eyes, making me think that he must not be sleeping well here. I know that he doesn't like being away from home for long so having to sleep here every night must be hard for him. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I've been running for a week straight. I'm so tired, and I want to go home,” he replied.

“I'm so sorry, Jared,” I sat down in the chair next to his bed.

“Why didn't you come to see me earlier?” He asked.

“Because I'm a terrible sister. I was only thinking of myself. I'm such a bad sister to you, Jared,” I said, ducking my head to hide my tears from him. I buried my head on my hands and shook as silent cries rolled through my body. I suddenly felt Jared poke my arm, causing me to life my head. Jared was crying, too, holding his arms open to me. I practically lunged into his bed with him. I wrapped Jared in my arms, holding him close to me.

“Jess?” Someone woke me from the sleep that I had fallen into.

“Yeah?” I groaned, rolling over a little. I opened my eyes and saw Jared's nurse, Laura, standing in front of me.

“Are you staying here overnight?” She asked kindly.

“Am I allowed to?”

“Of course,” she smiled.

“Then, yeah. I'll stay here.”

“Sleep well,” she whispered as she left the room.

I rolled back over and cuddled close to Jared. I watched him as he slept, thinking about how scary this whole experience is going to me. No one knows if he will get better anytime soon, or if he ever will. Life without Jared is unimaginable. Having breakfast without him, never having to pick him up from school again, not playing with him, and, worst of all, not having my little brother around anymore. It's the worst thing I could ever imagine.

~~~

When I woke up the next morning, Jared was already up and watching his Sunday morning cartoons. I sat up in the bed, tousling his hair as I did so.

“Hi, sweetie,” someone in the room said, causing me to jump. I looked to my left and saw my parents sitting in the chairs next to Jared's bed, with John laying on his stomach at the foot of the bed. I smiled at them.

“Are you planning on going back to school tomorrow?” My mom asked. “I really think you should.”

“I guess I will,” I shrugged. I did miss an entire week of school.

My mom's smile grew, even though it really wasn't that big of a deal. But, you know, parents will be parents. They get overjoyed about everything.

“That's great, Jess,” my dad said to me.

“Whatever,” I rolled my eyes with a smile.

My parents, John, and I spent the rest of the afternoon with Jared. It almost felt like normal. Except for the fact that we were in a hospital room, and we had to leave a couple hours later because Jared got sick. One minute we were all laughing, then we were being forced out of the room. Laura said it was because there was too much going on, causing Jared to get overexcited. It sucked, to say the least. We didn't even get to say goodbye.

When we got home, I decided to go up to my room to take a nap. The last thing that I remember before I fell asleep, was my mom kissing me on the forehead.

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