‘’Ready, Deborah?’‘Vickie asked. I could see her grin reflected in the length mirror, as well as my own nervous smile. ‘’I guess...Do I look OK?’‘I checked myself again, making sure I was presentable enough. My outfit wasn’t something I was used too. When my parents found out I was finally free of cancer, they practically flooded my room with gifts, flowers, and a credit car with unlimited access to their accounts. Which meant I could order new clothes via the Internet. Vickie, my favorite nurse, did most of the shopping. It was fun, although I later felt guilty, because of the sum I spent. Now, looking at myself, I was still nervous. I looked so different. The treatment had tremendously decreased the rate of the cancer cells’ reproduction, and the surgery was successful. In the span of only a month, my life had change drastically. Even my appearance. Instead of the stiff blue gown I alway wore, for the first time since I was five, I had on real clothes. I had on a red top that had the peace symbol, black mid thigh shorts that showed how pale my legs were, black leather combat boots, and a black parka that was soft and furry inside. Hair was just beginning to grow back, but my scalp was still visible, so a black beanie was down to my forehead. ‘’You look beautiful.’‘ ‘’I look like a mafia dealer.’‘ ‘’Girls your age dress with more...color..’‘she said, but then quickly added,’‘But you look just fine. It’s your style, and you are yourself.’‘ What a cliche phrase. ‘’Are you sure you don’t want to put on some makeup?’‘she asked. I shook my head, even though I knew I’d look a bit better with that. Dark rings were under my eyes, my lips a pale pink and my skin was deathly pale. ‘’Then, let’s meet your parents. They are waiting in the waiting room.’‘ My heart made a strange leap. Something between excitement and anger. I didn’t want to move, but the nurse was already tugging at my arm, guiding me out of the restroom and down the hall. ‘’I don’t want-’‘ A deep, lively, male laugh reached my ears, echoing across the hallway. It was coming from the waiting room, just ahead. Could that be-? Vickie pushed open the heavy white doors. Immediately, gasps were heard. I took a quick glance at the room and immediately spotted them. Eight years had passed since I last saw them. My surprise at seeing them was justified. My mother’s honey blond hair stylishly cascaded down her shoulders and the mascara highlighted her wide green eyes. Just as I remembered, she was dressed according to the latest fashion trend. She had on a beige top, brown pants, and red heels. Her left hand clutched a purse, and her right arm was extended...she was running as fast as those high heels allowed her. I unconsciously took a step back. ‘’Debbie.’‘she whispered, hurt and confusion were audible in her tone. Instead of hugging her, like I should have, I inspected the rest of my ‘family’. My father had on a black business suit with a blue tie. His hair, once glossy black, now had streaks of grey. His expression was serious and he kept fidgeting with the gold watch on his wrist. He looked as if he wanted to say something, but turned his gaze away. He was nothing like the daddy I remembered I had, spontaneous and fun. Jacob, next to our father, was grinning and jogging to me. The last time I had seen him, he was a skinny boy, shorter than me. Now, he was the tallest one, by far, and had broad shoulders and an athlete’s built. His dark brown eyes were shinning with excitement. ‘’Deb.’‘he called by his nickname for me. In three long strides he was already enveloping me in a tight bear hug. ‘’We missed you.’‘he said. ‘’Jake.’‘Tears threatened to spill, so I didn’t say anything else. After hugging back, I pulled away, scanning his face curiously. There was no trace of the childhood fat, instead developing stubble and a strong jaw, along with a deep tan. ‘’You’ve changed.’‘I stated. ‘’You too, Deb.’‘I didn’t miss the glint of happiness in his eyes. After another hug, he pulled away and led me to my mum. She was frozen as a statue, as if lighting had struck her. Her eyes were big and sparkled with unshed tear. ‘’Debbie...’‘her voice was so heartbroken, so hurt, a twinge of guilt made my heart writhe uncomfortably. ‘’Hello, mum’‘I said, wrapping an arm around her shoulder awkwardly. A second later, she hugged me back tightly, heavy sobs making her entire tall, skinny frame shudder. Oh, so now she’s all sentimental with me? After years of abandoning me in a hospital, without so much a call on my birthdays. I sighed, patting her head lightly. Other than slight guilt, I didn’t feel anything else. People in the waiting room were looking at us curiously. Some whispered, most openly pointed at my covered head. ‘’We should go, Amelia.’‘dad whispered, putting a comforting arm on her shoulder. In between sobs, she said she loved me and clutched my hand, following dad out of the waiting room. ‘’Wait.’‘Gently I pulled my hand back and turned to Vickie. She was leaning on the doorway with ease, her broad lips turned up into a small smile. With one hand she pushed unruly black curls out of her face, and with another she wiped away trails of tears on her dark skin. Even though she was in her early thirties, her youthful-looking features and energetic pace made her seem like an eternal playful child. Her smile widened when she saw me, waving at me. We had exchanged goodbyes and number and address the night before, and she had strictly told me she didn’t want me to make her cry in front of her colleagues, in front of Dr. O’Conner in particular. The doctor wasn’t visible, but he had promised me he would call later. Both had been, in a way, like parents to me. I waved at her, then returned to my parents. My mother had been watching our exchange with an strange look on her face. She clung onto my arm tighter as we made our way out of the hospital and to the parking lot. I remembered the last time I set foot on this parking lot. There had been a red cardinal chirping on top of an almost bare tree next to the parking spot our car had been...eleven years ago. It all seemed so surreal. Maybe the cancer had caused me to hallucinate...everything, from the smooth leather of the car to the fresh scent of pine inside to the sound of singing voices mixed with instruments...yet the strong grip I felt on my hand told me it wasn’t an illusion. I was free of cancer. I was free to do anything I wanted. The years I had spent cooped in that small room I passed with books about everything from mythology to medicine to history to mathematic theories to physics...I had had the hope that IF I made it through with cancer, I would be able to go to the fantastic places I read about, try the exotic foods I imagined, and resume my college studies. My mind was already running with the possibilities I now had. I was determined to make my goals priority. My freedom was now something golden, something eleven years I had been deprived of.