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I walked into the building that towered over me and rubbed my eyes. I look around at everyone and smile at them, but I didn't know who any of them are. I didn't know where I was, let alone what I was doing in a building full of mysterious people.
"Hey, Megan!" A girl with a yellow braid and emerald eyes said, smiling at me.
I look at her. "Who's Megan?" I asked, confused.
"Uh, you are?" The perky girl said, looking just as confused as I felt.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. "I don't know who you are," I said when I look back at her.
"What do you mean?" She asked.
I smiled sadly and looked the girl in her eyes. "I don't know who I am, or who you are, or where I am. I can't remember anything," I answer. She pulled me in for a hug.
"Meg, what's going on?"
"I already told you, I don't know! I woke up this morning and knew who I was, and I don't anymore! I don't know who you are or where I am, I, I-" my head started feeling dizzy and I sat down on the bench next to me. I was getting a lot of odd looks, probably because I was yelling at this blonde girl. I started seeing black dots in my vision and rubbed my eyes again, but they didn't go away. My body felt funny but I had to stand back up and figure out what I was doing here.
"Meg, you need to sit back down," the girl says. I held my head; everything was suddenly loud. The voices around me bounced in my head, sounding like they were echoing.
"Meg," the girl said again.
I looked at her. "Can you please stop yelling?" I asked, trying to catch my breath.
She shook her head in utter confusion. "I'm not yelling," she said, and I winced at her voice. My head was suddenly throbbing. I looked around at everyone who had surrounded me and see worry painted across their faces.
"I'm okay," I mumble, and then I collapse on the floor.
What seemed like seconds later, but must've been hours, I woke up in the hospital. And I know it was the hospital because I was surrounded by white walls and machines that would beep if I twitched funny. I looked around and saw chairs full of flowers and balloons with 'Get well soon!' across them. I saw a clear liquid dripping into my arm and I had wires across my chest and a clamp on my ring finger. What happened? I thought to myself. I had no memory of how I got here or what happened prior to being here.
A knock came from the door. "Come in," I said as strong as I could. Charlie walked in, her emerald eyes glossed over with tears and her typical blonde braid was gone, now up in a messy bun.
"A bunch of people wanted to see you, I said her best friend had to see her first," she smiled and hugged me. "Meg, you didn't know who I was or where you were or who you were," she said.
I could feel a look of shock spread like a wildfire across my face. "I didn't know anything?"
"You asked why you were at school, you said you didn't have an idea of where you were."
"What happened after that?" I asked, hesitantly.
"You collapsed on the floor and didn't move so I called your mom and dad while other students got the nurse and a few other teachers. They ended up calling for an ambulance," Charlie said all to quickly for me to process.
"What happened to me?" I asked.
"I don't know," she said, looking at her feet, and then above my head.
"Your hair is gone," she said, weakly, almost like she was telling me not herself. I reached slowly for my head and gently rubbed my hands across the bandages that took the place of my hair.
"Oh my God," I said. I was terrified that I had bandages wrapped around my head and my eyes filled with warm tears.
I rested my hand on my lap again, and Charlie stood up. "I have to go," she frowned. "By the looks of things, you'll be here for a bit. I can tell everyone they can visit if you want," she smiled weakly.
"Tell them I'm okay, don't tell them to visit me yet," I said. Charlie smiled again and waved goodbye to me, and as she was leaving, a doctor came into the room.
"You're awake!" He said, excitedly. "I'm Dr. Allen," he continued.
"What happened to me?" I asked him. I knew now what happened before I blacked out, but still had no idea what happened after.
Dr. Allen sat down on the corner of my bed and carefully set his clipboard down on the corner of my bed and frowned. "In short terms, you collapsed because of a severe pressure in your head, which was caused by a cerebral hemorrhage."
"What? What is that?" I asked.
"Your brain was bleeding," he said, frowning still.
"Is that why I didn't recognize everyone?"
"Exactly. The bleeding was near your fusiform gyrus which recognizes faces and objects, which is why you didn't know your friends or where you were,"
I inhaled the information and it bounced in my brain. "Am I going to be okay?"
"Yes. We stopped the bleeding, which is why you've got bandages wrapped around your head," Dr. Allen answered. "You went in a coma shortly after the surgery, you've been asleep for a while."
"How long is a while?" I asked, a bit demanding.
Dr. Allen scratched hit forehead and looked me in the eyes. "A while is four days."
I was angry but the time period for 'a while' was shorter than I thought. "I guess that's why Charlie didn't seen surprised when she saw the bandages," I said quietly.
Dr. Allen looked at his feet. "Your family came in everyday but today, I'm sure they'll be here soon. And your friends, Charlie most of the time. And a tall boy, he came in yesterday with some lilies. Blue lilies." Dr. Allen looked at me. "How do you even get blue lilies?" He laughed. "You put them in water with sugar and blue dye with the ends of the stems cut off, and the dye is absorbed into the white lily," I said, smiling.
"You know this boy?"
"Eli Waller," I say, trying to contain my smile. "He tried to visit me?"
Dr. Allen smiled a crooked smile.
"I've had a crush on Eli since ninth grade," I said. "You didn't let him see me like this, did you?"
"I plead the fifth," Dr. Allen said, and laughed.
"Great," I laughed and shrugged my shoulders.
"He left the lilies on the windowsill,"
I turned my head, and there they were. All these different shades of blue were painted through the flowers like pieces of ribbon.
"Dr. Allen, how long am I going to have to be in the hospital?" I asked after a short moment.
"Another week," he frowned.
I looked at the ceiling and sighed. "Okay,"
"We have to run a couple tests and monitor your brain activity and change the bandages every once in a while, but you should be able to go home next Thursday."
"And back at school when?"
"Hopefully, Tuesday after we check on you."
"Alright," I sighed.
Dr. Allen stood up and typed something into the computer. "Alright, the medicine in this tube-" he pointed to my left- "is programmed to give you a nice little amount every now and then to keep the pain down. If you want to take a walk, or go outside, hit this button-" he pointed to the green button on a remote connected to my bed- "and you can walk with a parent, friend or nurse."
"Can I go for a walk now?" I asked.
"Sure thing, want me to walk with you?" he asked.
"Yeah," I said after a short moment. "Sure," I said, a little louder. Dr. Allen helped me up and wrapped a robe around me, and then disconnected all the wires from the monitor, then turned around as I disconnected them from my chest.
"Ready to go?" He asked. I grabbed the pole on the cart that held the dripping medicine and grabbed Dr. Allen's arm with the other hand.
The air was crisp and cool. But it wasn't cold. It was the middle of October, and a jacket felt nice, but a coat would be to much. "So, what grade are you in?"
"I'm a senior," I said, and looked straight in front of me. A cool wind tossed some leaves around and whispered throughout the trees. No one said anything for a while, we just walked on the sidewalk, watching children play across the street and patients sit at picnic tables.
"Do you ever just look at the world, and wonder what other people are going through?" I asked.
"Sometimes," Dr. Allen said. "Why?"
"I'm just thinking. Everyone has something going in in their lives, whether they know it's happening or they don't. I mean look at me, I woke up four days ago fine and got to school and my brain was bleeding. I didn't know anything until this morning." I was quiet for a minute. "If you looked at four days ago, and I didn't collapse. Would you know anything was wrong?"
Dr. Allen looked straight forward. "As a doctor or as one of your peers?"
"As a peer," I answered.
"Probably not. Charlie said you were always smiling."
"Exactly. People, they put on a show so others don't know anything's wrong."
Dr. Allen nodded his head slowly and then looked at me. "What do you think I'm going through?"
I looked into his eyes. "I don't know," I said. "Your putting on a show."
"What if I never told you my dad just passed away in a wreck?"
"I wouldn't know unless you told me. You could smile and no one would know anything was wrong. It's a show."
"You and shows," he laughed.
"Me and shows," I repeated. "I'm getting chilly, let's go back inside."
When I got back to the room, Dr. Allen left and a nurse came into my room to put the stickers and wires back onto my chest.
"What do you want for breakfast, honey?" The soulful African American nurse said as she checked my blood pressure.
"Something that doesn't taste like rubber," I said and smiled to her. "What's your name?"
"Kathleen Fulton, baby." Her voice was big and happy and she smiled a lot.
"Can I call you Kathleen or do I have to call you Nurse Fulton?" I asked.
"No, baby, you can call me Kathleen." She undid the cuff from around my bicep and handed me a menu. "The eggs don't taste like rubber," she said, and picked up my charts.
"Then I'll have the eggs," I said, handing her the menu back. She smiled a full smile and stood by the doorway.
"You want cheese on your eggs?"
"Um, no." I said, and waved goodbye to Kathleen.
"Alright, baby, just some eggs. I'll be back soon, don't you run away now," she said, and laughed. Then she walked out the door and the room was quiet again. I sighed heavily and settled into my bed to rest my eyes. Right as I was comfortable, a knock came from the door.
"Who is it?" I called as loud as I could, which was pretty weak. I shut my eyes and sat up as I heard the door open.
"Is this a bad time?" A voice cooed. I opened my eyes, hoping it was the voice I thought I heard.
"Yeah," he said and walked into the room slowly. I inhaled and opened my eyes, and realized it really was Eli Waller, standing in front of me. "I brought you blue lilies," he said a little confused. His voice sounded far away, like he was across the hall speaking quietly to me.
"They're beautiful," I said and smiled.
"You're awake," he said after a long moment of silence.
"Yeah, I heard I was in a coma for a while," I said.
"Yeah. I saw you fall in school and I freaked out so I called an ambulance,"
"Thank you," I smiled.
Eli was frowning, though. He wouldn't smile. His brown hair was messy and spiked, his blue eyes sagged, and his olive skin was now pale. His whole body looked tired. "Have you not been sleeping?" I asked. Eli shook his head 'no' and awkwardly sat down in the recliner next to me. "Why?" He shrugged his shoulders and looked at his feet.
"You know, prom is three weeks away," he said.
"I should be able to go," I smiled to myself.
"Yeah, but you aren't going to wear the bandages right?"
"No," I smiled again. "I'm not going to wear a wig either,"
"Your a brave girl," he said, and for the first time, he smiled. "You'll be teased by Kelsey and Whitney."
"I don't care, I didn't see them have brain surgery," I said, and giggled a bit.
Eli smiled, too. "I don't understand where they get their power, you're much prettier than them combined," he said, and blushed.
"You think so?" I asked. He nodded his head 'yes' and looked at his feet. And then the room was quiet again. I laid in my bed, watching how the medicine dripped into the tube, which led to a needle, which was shoved in my hand, held there by tape. Eli sat in the chair awkwardly, tapping his foot, glancing occasionally at the clock.
Soon, Kathleen came back in with a tray full of eggs and turkey bacon. "There's my favorite nurse," I said and smiled, sitting up ever so slowly. Eli stood up.
"I should go," he said, and grabbed his jacket up off of the back of the chair.
"Eli, stay," I said. He stopped walking. Kathleen held off putting my tray down, I'm sure she knew what I was thinking. She glanced over at Eli and smiled a warm smile, then glanced at me. Eli shook his head and walked out of the room, and. Kathleen put the tray down.
"What was that all about?" I asked.
"Eli is my godson," she smiled, and clapped her hands.
"Seriously?" I yelled and smiled, taking a bite of egg.
"Seriously!" She answered, excitedly. "I gotta go take care of other patients, don't go anywhere, baby."
I smiled to her. "Alright,"
"And just between you and I," she said just before she left the room. "You're my favorite cancer patient," she winked at me and left. Cancer, what the heck did she mean by cancer?
I pressed the green button next to me and Dr. Allen rushed in.
"I'm a cancer patient? I can't have cancer, I'm eighteen!"
Dr. Allen bowed his head and frowned. "The bleeding in your brain was caused by a cancerous mass in your brain, it grew really big and that's why your brain bled. We just found out last night,"
"And you weren't going to tell me!" I yelled, and held my head. Yelling made it ache. "You can't be serious, I'm dreaming," I said, and pinched my arm as hard as I could three times. All that did was turned my skin red and blotchy.
"Very serious," he answered, and I began to cry. "How deadly is it?"
"It's Stage III whatever it is,"
"You don't even know what type of cancer it is, great," I said sarcastically. "Can you just leave me alone for a bit, can I just go walk by myself?"
Dr. Allen frowned. "I guess, twenty minutes at the most outside." I nodded my head and slipped my cell phone in my pocket.
When I got outside, the air was still cool and crisp, but I was numb to it. Words were pooling into my head, words I couldn't find the right way to say to my parents and my friends.
So I called Mom and Dad, who answered on the first ring.
"Baby, what's wrong?"
I took a deep breath and started balling again. "I have cancer, it's Stage III cancer and Dr. Allen doesn't know what it is and I can't talk right now I have to tell everyone else!"
Mom and Dad were both quiet. "We know," they said, just before I ended the call. "Go tell everyone, we'll talk when we get to the hospital."
"I love you guys," I said, holding my anger back. Being angry really wouldn't do much for my headache or the cancer.
"We love you too," Dad said, and hung up.
Then I dialed for Charlie, who answered on the third ring. "What's up?"
"I have cancer," I said, practically throwing up the news. "Can you meet me at the hospital tomorrow?"
"Yeah, of course," Charlie said, sounding more depressed by the second.
"I'm gonna call Eli," I said after a moment.
"You have Eli's number?" Charlie asked.
"Yeah, he gave it to me a while back," I said. "Kisses, Charcoal."
"Bye, Megaronni." She said, and the line went blank.
Just my luck, Eli was sitting at a picnic table across the street. I walked slowly and tied the robe around my waist. I shivered and tapped on his shoulder. He turned around, and I noticed his eyes were glossed over with tears.
"What's wrong?" I asked, sitting down.
"You've been crying, too," he said, and wiped the tears off of his face.
"Eli," I said, and looked at the cart with my medicine. "I need to tell you something."
"What, you can't go to prom?" He asked, and smiled.
"No, I have cancer," I said.
"Me too," Eli answered.