Lucas hands me my coffee and sits on the little couch next to Andrew. They start to chat quietly as I sip my coffee. "Rose Evermore," Someone says my name and I look towards the door to see a doctor holding up a chart. He brings it down and his eyes widen at the sight of all of the people. "Well you certainly are popular," He laughs and then hands out little lollipops to all the kids.
"What's up Doc?" I ask him as he gives me more pain medication and checks my heart beat.
"I wanted to talk to you about something, but I can come back when you aren't so busy," He smiles.
"That's okay Doctor Simmons, Andrew and I are taking the kids to the gift shop now anyways," Lucas announces standing up.
"That one's a keeper," Doctor Simmons (apparently that's his name) says in a quiet voice motioning to Lucas.
I smile and wave to them all, Lucas kissing my cheek before all of the boys head out. Doctor Simmons looks back and forth between my sister and I. "She's fine," I tell him, moving the bed so that I am sitting upright.
He nods and takes a seat in a spinney chair, flipping through some papers. "Okay so here's the deal. You're situation is very rare. Corinitis is an extremely rare disease that scientists and doctors have not been able to study in the past - especially because patients in the past who have been diagnosed with it have passed so quickly," He starts.
"Okay..." I say kind of confused.
"Well I have spoken with the National Science Foundation and they would love the opportunity to study your case. If you agree to letting them research you, your family in the past, keep track of the development of the disease, than you will not only receive the utmost best medical care, but also a large compensation for allowing us to conduct the research," He tells me.
"What do you mean study and research?" Arianna asks him.
"They would be doing blood tests as well as keeping track of your temperature and blood pressure and the length of your comas as well as the amount of time that you are conscious and such. They could develop new pain medications and do more research for cures which you would, with consent, be used to test."
He hands me the sheet of paper of which he was reading off of.
Ms. Rose Evermore,
On behalf of the National Science Foundation, I apologize that you have been diagnosed with Corinitis. Corinitis is an extremely rare disease in which we have only come across a few cases in previous years...If you allow us the honor of researching this disease then not only will it further the possibility of a cure to this disease, but will also help you personally. If you agree to let us study you then we will supply you with a starting amount of $500,000 dollars with an additional $100,000 each month that you continue to participate. In addition to that, we will cover all of your medical expenses. We will not interfere greatly in your personal life or change the way that you live when conscious. We understand that you are entitled to spend the rest of your life the way that you choose. We understand if you decide not to take this opportunity. Thank you for your time.
-Robert Fuller, Assistant Director of NSF
There was more included in the letter, but that's the important parts. "And why are you proposing this to me and not my mother?" I ask curiously, handing the letter to Arianna so that she can read it. I feel the pain pulsing through me the entire time we talk.
"Well there are two reasons for that. The first is that your mother doesn't seem to be coping especially well with your situation. The second is that you are 16 which allows you some say into what happens to you, especially in a delicate situation such as this. The money would go directly to you, not to your mother or anyone else," He tells me.
"Okay. Do you need to know right away?" I ask.
"We'd rather an answer sooner than later, but we know that a decision as big as this might take longer than two days to make," He replies. Then he looks at me for a moment. "You do know that you can have the pain medication up to six times an hour right?" He asks me.
"I did not know that," I answer.
He stands up and injects another dosage into the IV. "Hey Doc, when can I leave?" I question.
"Your discharge is set for Friday, although you might want to keep checking in with your doctor in case of your next...episode." He tells me.
He says good-bye to Arianna and walks out of the room. "Thoughts?" I ask her as she stares at the paper, reading it over and over again.
She looks up and her eyes look glassy. She takes a deep breath. "Do what will help you," She says.
"What would you do if you were in my position?" I clarify.
"I would do it," She replies and for a minute we just look at each other. Then the room is suddenly noisy because Andrew, Lucas and the boys are coming back in. She hands me the paper and I fold it up, tucking it under my leg and turning to all of them.
"This stays between us," I whisper and she nods. I take a sip of my coffee.
"Hey guys! How was the gift shop?" I ask them.
"Uncle Lucas bought me some chips," Caleb tells me with a smile.
"That's great," I reply.
"And Miah and I got soda," Aidan holds up a can of Sprite. Arianna sends a glare to Lucas.
"Shit happens," Andrew shrugs and I laugh causing Arianna to laugh too.
They all stay for a while, but around 7 o'clock Arianna mentions the boys' bedtime and the fact that Koda is getting cranky. They say goodbye to me and I get hugs and kisses from all of them, waving good-bye to them. Arianna promises to be back tomorrow to visit again and I nod, blowing her a kiss. "I love you always and forever," I say with a small smile.
"I love you too forever and always," She replies.
When they're gone I move to one side of the bed and pat the empty space so that Lucas will come sit with me. I intertwine our legs as his arms wrap around my body to keep me warm.
"So what are you hiding from me?" He asks me in a curious voice, drawing a pattern on my thigh with his finger.
"Nothing to worry about. People just wanna study me that's all," I smile. "But we have a serious issue at hand," My voice turns serious as I look up at him. He instantly tenses up.
"What?" He chokes out.
"You haven't been going to school have you?" I ask him and he instantly relaxes but looks guilty.
"No," He admits. I hit his chest.
"You're going to school!" I exclaim. He gives me a look that says no. "Lucas I'm serious. If you want to do something for me then keeping up in school is it," I tell him seriously. He sighs.
"Bu-" He starts. I shake my head.
"You are going home in twenty minutes and tomorrow you are going to school. After that you can come see me, but you have to go to school first," I demand.
"And what if I don't?" He asks.
"Then I will not let you see me tomorrow," I say. He shakes his head.
"That wouldn't happen,"
"But-" He starts.
"No buts. Lucas you need an edumaction," I say.
"Fine," He huffs.
"Now enjoy our twenty minutes together," I smile, putting my head on his chest and my hand on his waist. His hand rests on my bum and we lay like that for probably longer than twenty minutes, watching television. Finally I send him home after a long kiss and I love yous.
"I'll bring you coffee when I come," He promises.
"Thank you," I smile.
As soon as he's gone all I can think about is the pain. Time seems to pass by slowly as I struggle to think through it, much harder now without any distraction. It's only at four in the morning when I give into taking the pain medication six times that hour when I finally drift off to sleep. I wake up at 5:30 in the morning with my head pounding like a bad headache. It's different then the ones I get when I'm about to go into a coma, but still hurts like hell.
I ask the nurse for some pain relief and then call one of my best friend's Morgan. "Hey," I say.
"Oh my god hey Rose," She replies. "I came and visited you the other day but you were in the coma..." She trails off.
"Don't worry about me, can you do me a favor?" I ask her.
"Anything what's up?" She replies.
"Will you get all my work for me today and also make sure that Lucas is at school?" I ask.
"Sure thing. I'll stop by after school if that's okay," She says.
"That's perfect. Thank you darling," I reply. We say our goodbyes and then I hang up. Next I call Lucas.
"Hello?" He answers groggily telling me that I just woke him up.
"Get that sexy ass out of bed and get to school," I tell him.
"Damn Rose," He grumbles and his morning voice is so hot.
"Go to school. Love you," I make my voice sweet.
"Love you too," He grumbles and I hang up the phone. I think about him for a few minutes but my thoughts go back to pain shortly afterwards.
I try to distract myself with the television but that doesn't work very well so I finally decide to take a walk. I'm in the Children's hospital because I'm not 18 so I can see all the little kids in here as well. I have to take the IV thingy with me as I walk, but I'm in my own leggings with slippers and a tank top with a sweater. I walk around my floor and to the cafeteria.
I sit down at a table and drop my head in my hands. "Are you okay lady?" I hear a little boy ask. I look up and see a little blond haired boy with blue eyes. He's wearing panda pajamas and has his elbows on the table looking at me.
"I'm fine thank you sweetie," I smile. "Are you?" I ask.
"I've been better," He shrugs. "It's hard to sleep at night when everything hurts," He adds.
"Yeah it is. Where's your mommy and daddy?" I ask him.
"Mommy has to go home at night to be with my little brother. I make friends here," He smiles. "I'm Jordan," He holds his hand out.
"Rose," I reply. "What are you here for?" I ask him.
"I had surgery on my arm and leg," He holds up his bandaged arm. "You?" He asks.
"I found out I have a disease that is rare," I reply.
"Oh I'm sorry," he puts his hand on mine.
"Me too," I say. "Would you like to come watch tv with me in my room?" I ask him, standing up.
"Would I?" He exclaims with a huge smile. I smile in return and we start making our way back to my room slowly. We sit on the couch and talk about how we have school and how are parents are and how SpongeBob is funny. He tells me that he's eight years old and I tell him I have a nephew who is eight years old too. It's easy to talk to him and I think it's because he doesn't know I'm going to die soon. Around eight in the morning he goes back to his room and says that I'll see him later, giving me his room number.
"Bye Jordan," I smile and wave to him as he leaves. I go back to my bed and sit down, trying to relax. I'm just so bored and with nothing to think about I think about the pain.
I sigh and pull out the letter again. I'm going to do it. I could use the money to help my mom catch up on her bills and help out my sister with her bills and help pay for Lucas' college tuition when it gets to be that time. I send a text to my mom asking her when she is coming to see me and she replies that she will be here in an hour.
I sigh and lay on my side after getting some pain medication and trying to relax. I dose in and out of sleep for about an hour and then my mother walks in with my father. Suddenly my physical pain doesn't matter anymore.
"Hi honey," he comes over and kisses my cheek. I resist the urge to wipe my cheek. He sits on the couch and my mom sits in the chair next to the bed.
"How are you feeling?" She asks me. I hit the help button.
"I'm okay," I reply with a nod and she smiles.
"Good," She nods as if she knew that already. My nurse comes in the room.
"What's up hun?" She asks automatically giving me more pain medication.
"Can you ask Doctor Simmons to bring me the papers to sign?" I ask her.
"Sure sweetie," She smiles at me. She leaves the room and my parents look at me with confusion.
"Papers for what?" My mother asks.
"I'm going to let the National Science Foundation study my case," I say.
"What? Why?" My mother asks.
"So that they can get closer to finding a cure," I reply, not telling her all about the money.
"I am not going to sign some papers so that a bunch of science freaks can treat my daughter as a lab rat!" My mom exclaims. I sigh.
"Dad, Mom is in denial. Mom, there's almost no chance that I am going to get better." I put my hand over hers and she looks out of the window. "But if I have the opportunity to help others in the future, then that's what I'm going to do," I add softly.
Doctor Simmons come in with a clipboard and introduces himself to my dad, saying hello to my mother politely. He checks my vitals quickly and then sits in the chair, handing me the clipboard and turning to face my parents, telling them about how if I do this then it will not really interfere with how I want to live my life and how in fact if I do, do this that I will get expert medical care and my medical bills will be taken care of. I hold the clipboard out to my mother, asking her to sign it.
My mother has sole custody of me so it doesn't really matter if my dad is cool with it or not. "I don't know," She shakes her head.
"Mom. Please," I say quietly. She looks at me and a tear slips down her cheek as she signs her name where it says for a parent/guardian signature.
"I just want you to live," She sniffles.
I take the clipboard from her and sign my name on the page before flipping the page and filling out all of my information including my name, address, phone number, savings and checking account number, along with completing a survey on how I feel and if I am sexually active or if there is a chance that I could be pregnant and stuff like that.
When I'm done I hand it back to Doctor Simmons and he smiles at me. "Thank you. You're going to help a lot. I'll have your nurse come in shortly to take you to get some blood drawn so that they can run tests on it as long as that's okay. Even though you've signed the agreement allowing us to study you, you still have control over what we can and cannot do." He informs me.
"That's fine. Thank you," I reply as he shakes my dad's hand again and walks out of the room.
"When are you being released?" My dad asks me.
"Friday," I say shortly.
"I have to get to work," My mother stands up and rubs her eyes.
"Me too," My dad replies.
By now it's about 10:30am. I say goodbye to both of them and they leave together, my mom saying she'll try to be back later.