Two weeks had passed since they had told Cody he was in remission. The family was pumped, and they were glad they hadn't lost him. Ryan thought that, for sure, Cody would die, just like Eric and Michelle. But Cody had proven them wrong.
He still couldn't go to school yet, though. They were just going to keep him medicated well for a bit, and maybe next week, he could be registered at St.Claire Public School. He was beyond excited, though he had never liked school. He had met Chris, Elaine's brother, just last week, and they had bonded quickly. He was glad to at least have some friends while he was in the hospital.
Ryan's friends were glad to see Ryan so happy. Jodi and Shirley, on the other hand, weren't doing so great, but they hoped that they would turn out like Cody, and improve. It seemed Shirley was on the road to recovery, but she still had a long way to go. They had to put a rod in her spine because it was cracked, and they were afraid that she would never walk again. But they kept their hopes up for both she and Jodi.
Plus, Ryan's friends didn't have to see him so depressed. He'd still be sad about his sisters, of course, but at least Cody was in the safe zone. Cody was proud to survive what had brought him down at the beginning of the summer. One down, two to go.
Shirley was sort of getting better. She didn't like her wheelchair, but she had no choice. She hated the fact that she couldn't walk. With both of her legs broken, and her spine all messed up, she had a slim chance of ever walking again. It was so sad to see her suffering like this, because four-year-olds usually like to be on their feet, especially Shirley, who was always busy with something. Jodi liked to be out and about, too, but at least she could walk.
Ryan arrived at school, with a huge smile on his face. "How's Cody doing?" Elaine grinned.
"He's always a bit nauseous, but we're pretty sure he's fine," Ryan answered with confidence.
"Well, that's wonderful," Elaine said proudly. "Tell your brother once again that I am so proud that he has made it so far along in his journey. I'm proud of your sisters, too. They have made it quite far, too. Jodi is considered lucky."
"She's been through so much. We've had so many close calls, so many false alarms, and she's had so many seizures, but she still made it through. She's still in bad shape, though."
"How about Shirley?" Adam asked. "Is she still doing okay?"
"I think she'll live," Ryan stated. "I honestly think that, if she were to die, she would have died the night she was hit. And it's all my fault for it."
"I'm sure it wasn't," Elaine muttered.
Ryan had tried describing that night to her so many times, but she would never see what he saw. She would never feel the same way he did that night. But she did know how it felt to be guilty. She had felt guilty for so many reasons, but she would never feel like that, unless the same situation had happened with Chris. Elaine could kind of understand why he would feel guilty for it, but she'd never truly experienced it for herself.
"It definitely was my fault," Ryan told her. "Try to picture this. Pretend that Chris turned four only about two months ago. You're playing soccer, and you accidentally kick it onto the road. He gets hit right in front of you when he goes to get it. Would you consider that your fault?"
Elaine didn't know how to respond. She would blame it on herself, of course, but if she said it out loud to Ryan, it would be like telling him that it was his fault. She just ignored the question, to avoid making him feel terrible about himself. She knew that Ryan was looking for an answer, but she decided to keep her mouth firmly shut.
In the classroom, Ms.Sherwood announced that, instead of having language class that morning, they would have science instead. They were going to go outside, and walk just a little down the road so they could take a trip through the woods. They were going to pick up interesting things they found, and bring them back to class when it was time to go. Elaine had apparently done that at least once a week at her old school last year, except for the winter, since there was nothing special to be found.
It was rather chilly outside that day, since it was just the beginning of October. The sky was gray and overcast, and it was a bit windy. The other students had to hold on to their hats, to make sure they did not blow away. Once they entered the woods, it seemed that it was darker and colder in there than it was out in the open. That was partially due to the lack of shade when you were out in the open. In the woods, there was a tremendous amount of shade, and when there was shade, it was colder.
As they headed down the dirt trail that slithered on through the woods, students were picking up funny-looking leaves, while some found berries from the bushes. There were all sorts of cool collectibles to be found in there. There were acorns, chunks of tree bark, and many other items to be found outdoors. There were lots of rocks on the ground, some with cool shapes and colours. Domonic found one that was a beautiful shade of dark red, and it was long and thin.
Since it had rained the previous day, there were also lots of puddles that they had to watch out for. The majority of the students had not been wearing rain boots, so their feet were unprotected. Many of them already had soaked feet from accidentally stepping in the puddles. Ryan and Elaine had to worry a lot about the cell phones in their pockets, since they could fall out, and land on the wet ground. That would not turn out well.
"Squirrel!" Dana shrieked. She pointed up to the top of a tree, where a fat, red squirrel was perched upon a thin branch. "It's gonna fall! Someone help that poor creature!"
Ryan could be quite honest, Dana freaked him out a little. She had told him right to his face on the first day of school that she had a giant crush on him. His friends reminded him of how creepy she could be at times. She reminded him of Tara, following Cody everywhere. But Dana and her friends didn't have a lot of boys that were their friends, and the ones that were their friends were the nerds. Dana and her group of girls were the outcasts as well.
The branch suddenly snapped, and Dana screamed loudly. Ryan couldn't see the squirrel falling until some of the kids cleared out of his way. He then did what he'd never expected himself to do. He raced for the falling squirrel, and caught it in his bare hands. The squirrel immediately scrambled away, and Dana was cheering as she tried to catch it as it ran off.
"Don't bother it," Ryan told her.
Dana looked like she had gone to heaven as Ryan spoke to her. She nodded in agreement, and walked away from it. She felt like she was walking on the clouds. Ryan thought, She probably scared it off that branch. For some odd reason, she was attracted to animals like that, including raccoons. She was hoping to run into one while they were out there.
Ms.Sherwood's cell phone began to ring abruptly. As she struggled to find it in her pocket, Elaine looked over at Ryan and, not noticing that it was Ms.Sherwood's phone, said, "Ryan, is that your phone?"
"No," he told her. "But I'll check mine for messages." He dug through his sweater pocket, and his heart began to race faster as he realized that it was not there.
His eyes widened as he glanced over his shoulder at Elaine. "Where's my phone?" he asked her.
Her sparkling blue eyes darted in all directions, in hopes she would find it for him before they left the area. "I swear I don't have it," she confessed, throwing up her hands.
Elaine asked all of her friends if they had seen Ryan's phone anywhere, and they all answered no. "My mom's gonna kill me!" Ryan moaned, clapping his hands to his cheeks.
"I think we'll be able to find it," Elaine assured him.
"The ground is wet," Ryan reminded her. "If it's on the ground, it'll be destroyed and won't even work anymore."
"Did you check your other pockets?" Jake questioned. "Maybe you put it in another pocket, and forgot it was there."
Ryan double-checked the pockets in his jeans, but his prized cell phone was not there. He tried to figure out how it could have gone missing. It must have fallen out of his pocket, but when? After Ms.Sherwood placed her cell phone back in her pocket, she announced, "Come on. We're moving on now."
"Tell her we should stay a bit longer," Ryan whispered to Elaine.
"Why not just tell her you lost your phone?" Elaine asked.
"Remember, just before we left to come here, she said, 'No electronics'? She'll kill me too. I've already been in trouble enough times with her."
"She'd understand," Elaine assured him. "She'd probably have a heart attack if she lost hers. Especially out here."
Ryan still didn't want to confess to Ms.Sherwood that he'd brought his cell phone out there. After all, she'd just say, "Well, you made the decision to bring it out here. It's not my problem." Ryan desperately searched the ground for the phone, but it was nowhere to be found.
"Here," Elaine said. "I'll call your phone. You should be able to hear it ring."
"It'll only vibrate when it goes off," Ryan reminded her.
"You can still hear it buzzing," Elaine stated. She pulled out her small, black cell phone, and speed-dialed the number in her contact list. As she held the phone close to her ear, waiting to see if it would ring on the other line, Ryan attempted to listen for a buzzing noise, but heard nothing. He felt hopeless.
After Elaine hung up, she sighed loudly. "Did you hear anything?" she inquired.
"No," Ryan said, disappointed.
"Miss, can we stay in this area for a bit longer?" Grayson finally asked, hoping to make Ryan feel just a bit relieved.
"And what would be the reason for that?" she called back at him.
"I think I found something interesting," Grayson lied. "I dropped it somewhere, and I can't find it."
"What was it?"
"I'm not sure," Grayson answered. "But it looked valuable."
"Fine," Ms.Sherwood finally agreed. "But we can't stay here for more than five minutes. We are wasting time here."
Grayson nodded, then turned to Elaine and Ryan and winked. He made them feel more relieved, since there would be more time to search for the lost two hundred-fifty dollar BlackBerry. By now, the entire group of friends had joined the search, while the rest of the class didn't have a clue about what they were even searching for.
All around them, they could hear students calling out the names of items that they found. Ryan definitely wasn't searching for anything else but that cell phone. He knew that Theresa would be very mad, and he didn't like to see her that way. He hated to disappoint her. But at least the situation wasn't nearly as bad as the night that Shirley got hit. He thought he'd disappoint her, but he didn't. He just hoped that, if he couldn't find the phone, that his mother would forgive him.
The students had huge grins on their faces as they picked up valuable items. They seemed surprised at some of the things that they found on the ground.
"I found an orange leaf!"
"I found a claw!"
"I found a blueberry!"
"I found a cell phone!"
All eyes turned in Dana's direction. Where did she find a cell phone? Why would there be a cell phone way out here? The students were confused. Who did this phone belong to? They must have been worried sick.
Ryan breathed a sigh of relief. "That's mine!" he hollered, and headed toward her. Dana handed him the BlackBerry phone, and blushed. Ryan decided to hold the cell phone in his hand tightly, to avoid dropping it again. It still worked, thank God. It had landed on a dry part of the ground, so it did not get wet.
Ms.Sherwood was not mad. In fact, she had experienced that before on a field trip a few years ago, where she used to teach. The only difference was that she never found it. She had to buy a new one. She just warned him to keep it in his locker the next time, or she would take it from him for the rest of the day. He didn't want anyone else to have his cell phone in their hands, so he considered it.
"Thanks," Ryan said to Dana as they moved on from their spot in the woods.
"No problem," Dana answered, trying to sound cool.
After spending another hour back in the woods, the cold breeze soon caught up to them, and they walked back to school. They decided that, after a quick break, they would head back to class to continue on with the rest of the day. Ryan kept his expensive phone held tightly in his small hands, hoping not to ever have another mini-heart attack again. He felt so glad that he hadn't lost it. Theresa would be really mad, and she'd have no other way to contact him if something had ever happened back at the hospital.
As the day continued on so slowly, Ryan and his friends tried to think of how Ryan had managed to drop the cell phone. After much thinking, Whitney spoke up. "It could have happened when you caught that squirrel. You just dove for it. Maybe that's when it fell out."
"I must be blind, then," Elaine giggled. "Ryan was right in front of me, and I didn't even see it happen."
It made sense that he had dropped it in the attempt to save the squirrel from death. That was where they had found it, right underneath that tree. Ryan wished that someone else could have caught the squirrel, because he was disgusted by the feel of it. He was sure that it was diseased, and he washed his hands for a long time. He didn't want to get sick. Plus, his cell phone wouldn't have dropped.
When it was time to go home, Elaine made Ryan promise that he would go to the skatepark that night with the group. Ryan agreed, and continued on home. They set the time for six o'clock, just after everyone finished supper. It would be the perfect time. All of the friends agreed to show up at six o'clock, and they went on their separate ways.
But when six o'clock came around, Ryan didn't show up. The group needed to know why he wasn't there, but he wasn't answering Elaine's texts. "Maybe he's just late," Domonic suggested.
"But he would answer my texts when I sent them," Elaine protested. "He always does."
"Well, he puts it on vibrate, so it won't go off in class," Domonic reminded her. "He probably couldn't feel it in his pocket."
"But he is like a teenage girl with a cell phone," Elaine joked. "It's like he is addicted to it. He always checks it, even if nobody texted him."
"Well, that's true. Or he could have lost it again."
About an hour passed, and he didn't show up. They decided to stay until eight o'clock like they usually did, and then go home. They would have to question him when he arrived at school the next morning. He'd be able to answer them that way. Then they could actually believe him.
But, when they got to school the next morning, he wasn't there. This was starting to worry them. Where was Ryan? Why wasn't he answering anyone? "I hope he's alright," Elaine said nervously.
In the middle of language class, the door opened, and Ryan stepped in. The group of friends all breathed a sigh of relief. But he seemed like he was acting differently. He didn't look happy. Not at all. They had some serious questioning to do. He needed to answer those questions with reasonable answers.
"Where were you last night?" Elaine questioned, approaching him.
Ryan sighed. "Well, after what happened last night, I couldn't just leave my mom like that."
Elaine was confused. "What are you talking about? What happened last night?"
Elaine knew that, just by the look in Ryan's eyes, that he wasn't sure what to say, or he just didn't want to talk about. "Cody had a relapse, and I think he's gonna die."