Slowly, I find myself becoming aware of the things around me. I don't dare open my eyes, but I simply listen to my own breathing, taking this time to feel the rhythm or my chest rise and fall. I feel aware of every twitch my fingers make, every time my thigh shudders.
My eyelids flicker open, gazing into a familiar cream-colored ceiling. I turn my head slightly, so that I can see my mother standing in the door.
"Oh, good," she says, walking briskly over to me. "You're up."
I nod, stretching. I wince as my thigh flexes painfully. My throat is dry, and when I speak, it comes out as a raspy cough. "Can I have some water?"
My mother nods. "It's on your bed." she says.
As I'm gulping down my water, the door opens a second time to reveal Dr. Beard striding in. "Well, Maria, are you okay?"
I nod, but I can't stop myself from blurting out, "Please tell me this is a joke?"
Dr. Beard turns to me. "About what?" For a moment he looks confused, until he cracks a smile. "Oh, about your SPS? No, I wasn't joking. Why would you think I would joke about something like that?"
I frown. "I was just hoping... maybe it wasn't true."
"How long does she have to live?" My mother interjects. "Can she go home? Can she go to school?"
The doctor smiles again, gently this time. "Yes, she should be able to go home tomorrow. I just wanted to keep her here for a little bit to see if my hypothesis was correct. She'll be able to go to school for the time being. Maria, do you still have muscle pains in your abdominal muscles?"
"What?" I say.
"Your hips, your stomach area," He explained.
"Well, I guess so," I say. "But I hardly notice it anymore- ah!" I cry out as a sharp pain suddenly wracks my body.
The doctor frowns. "The disease is progressing more quickly than I thought. We're going to have to run some more tests on you." He presses a buzzer, and within a few seconds the door opens to reveal a kindly looking nurse.
"We're just gonna be going to the examination room now, dearie," the older woman says. "It won't take long."
"Can't my mom come with us?" I ask, aware as to how much I sound like a child.
"Not for this test, dearie," she says. I'm ushered out of the room before I speak again.