Mason stress continued to cause me worry, but I attempted to push it aside as we went to dinner that night at his parents. We walked into the house where we were immediately greeted by his ever loving family.
“Bella! Mason!” his two little sisters, Lauren and Emi, screamed in unison. We hugged each of them. I was an only child and often babysat his sisters, I loved them so much.
His mom and dad came in soon after, “Mason, so good to see you home honey,” his mom gushed, engulfing him and I in a giant hug.
His dad smiled at us and said hello too.
“Joe, Diane, it’s nice to see you again,” I said after the hello’s were over.
His mom gasped, “Oh yes Bella Dear, and I told you to come over more often,”
I smiled, “I know, and I will but school is so busy, I was hoping when Mason left next week Lauren and I could have a sleepover at the apartment,”
Lauren shrieked a yes and her mom smiled, “Of course, Lauren really needs an older sister figure,”
I had practically watched Lauren grow up in these few short years. She went from being nine to twelve, and there was constant change. Emi, of course, I loved equally as well, but I knew how much Lauren needed the help as she neared her teenage years. I shuddered thinking about how much that would have helped me; unfortunately I didn’t have a sister.
We sat down to a wonderful dinner of fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Only once was the subject of Mason’s health brought up.
“Mason, you look tired,” him mother had said; worry creasing her forehead, “Maybe you should take some time off,”
I cleared my throat softly; she didn’t know that he was doing just the opposite by taking this extra tour.
“Mom, I’m fine,” he assured her. The tone of his voice left no room for argument and the subject quickly changed.
When we were driving back from his house I laid my hand on his knee, “Mason, you really do seem tired,” I began softly, “I’m not meaning to be selfish, I just really think it would be good for you to rest,”
“Bella,” he sighed, frustrated, “I am fine. People have jobs so much easier than mine and they work more than I do, I really will be alright,” he stifled a cough.
I kept my voice low and steady, “Mason, what if you get sick? Then you will be forced to take time off,”
“I’m willing to take the risk,” he replied.
I shook my head and let the discussion end.
Mason left to go back to his hectic world of music not looking any better. I had let him sleep a lot and even made him chicken noodle soup, nothing seemed to help him. I knew why, though he pondered it often, you can’t take medicine to get rid of stress, you actually have to get rid of it, but he was stubborn so I simply hoped he would be alright. He called me often and I could hear him getting worse, I urged him to take time off, but he was so stubborn. Finally, I let the subject drop, I didn’t want to cause him more stress.
I called his parent’s house that weekend and Lauren happily agreed to spend the night with me on Friday. I picked her up in my dark blue Impala and she came running out, her dark hair in a messy bun. She was an averaged size girl and was wearing jeans and a soccer tee shirt. She had recently gotten her ears pierced and the little silver studs shone in the sunlight.
“Hi Bella!” she exclaimed, hugging me.
I returned her hug and said "hi" back. We had a lot of catching up to do; her homework was getting harder, she liked a boy in her class named Jayson, and her mom had had to take her bra shopping, again.
I laughed at her exasperation and told her my own horror stories of shopping for bras with my mom. We compared our stories and decided we both had it pretty tough. She said that Jayson seemed to ignore her and I told her that was the way most boys were if they liked you.
“Not Mason,” she said quietly, “He didn’t ignore you,”
I sighed, “It seems like he does now though,”
She pursued her lips in thought, “Boys are confusing,” she concluded.
I laughed at her simplicity, “Yes,” I agreed, “They are.”
“Why won’t he spend time with us anymore,” she couldn’t help whining about this and neither could I.
“He’s busy…too busy,” I explained.
She frowned at this, “Mason shouldn’t be like that, it’s not good for him. I saw the way he looked the other night, he looked sick. You should tell him Bella,”
“I have, I have,” I sighed again.
Now she looked angry, “Why won’t he listen to anyone? He’s canceled our plans in August for another petty tour,”
I was surprised she knew this, “Who told you?”
“Mason called, tried to make it sound like he couldn’t help it. Me and Emi know better, and I know you do too,”
There was no point in lying to this girl, she was smart, “Yes, I do know.”
She quietly said, “You don’t like it either, I can tell,”
I shook my head in agreement as we swung in to my parking space.
Lauren thought Mason needed a ‘get better’ card. So we spent all day Saturday making the best one we could. I knew he’d love it, even though he wouldn’t admit he was sick. We sent it in the post office and did some shopping.
Mason would be back in a few weeks again, and he needed to take time off. He needed it. I wished I could make him see that, he was too young to do this to himself. “Oh Mason,” I thought, “I love you.”