There is No Tumourrow

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Daniel is a seventeen year old who has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour (cancerous). Although he's accepted his death, Daniel doesn't know that a volunteer nurse is dedicated to keep him company and make his death as comfortable as possible.
Though his life is coming to an end soon, friendship and love surfaces out of his darkest moment in life. A bond that is unbreakable.


(note: this short story was originally for a project in my writer's craft class. I had to rush it so I can make the due date. I will hopefully/eventually tweak and add more to this story to the best of my abilities

Submitted: November 14, 2016

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Submitted: November 14, 2016

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There Is No Tumourrow

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A month ago I would have lived.

It all started when I lost my sense of smell. I could usually tell when my mom is making cookies, but not this time, not for the past four weeks. She would say, “How can you not smell them? I get compliments from the damn neighbours.” Or “Why do I keep finding the remote in the fridge?” More sighing, “Why is it in the washing machine?”

 

Mom took me for some tests that day, after my seizure. Two whole weeks of being hospitalized, basically tasting the hand sanitizer and throwing up this soggy hospital food, I hate to admit that I’m dying.

These drugs that I am taking usually knock me right out so i won’t have to listen to mom wailing over my slump body. There’s not a day in the month of my diagnosis when she’s not crying, and even the doctors have to take her away sometimes to get her to rest because insomnia is plaguing her just as much as it did to me, and I’m not sure if she is even sane anymore. She sobs when I discuss funeral plans and my burial, she won’t even look me in the face-- stares out the window dramatically and refuses to accept that I am dying. “There are other treatments, Daniel, there are surgeries they can do.” She would say. But they tried everything, chemo, radiation, and it’s far too late for surgery, I’ll just have to wait it out in the hospital, I’m too weak to go home.

“Hopefully--” Mom grabs my hand and swallows hard before speaking again, “radiotherapy will buy us some time, it can shrink the tumor, give you a year, maximum.” She buries her face into my chest and sniffles, I could feel the pool of tears seeping through my gown.

I run my fingers through her short blond hair, wishing she would stop crying.

“There’s no point, it’s inevitable. It’s a grade 4 tumor and there is nothing you or the doctor’s can do to save me--”

“Daniel, goddammit.” She balls my gown in her fists, “don’t you say things like that. You can live longer, see the world for a little bit longer. Don’t you want that?”

“Of course I do mom, but look at me. I’m throwing up everything to the point where my teeth could rot and fall out, my throat is burning and my skin is scabbed over. Don’t you think it’s enough?” She stares out the window, watching the snow fall. The room falls silent as I wait for her to have a breakdown. I hold my finger over the nurse call button, aching to press it. “I’m okay for the four months I have to live. I want to stop the treatments.” Her breathing quickens before her shoulders start shaking--a beautiful, once happy face crumbles before my eyes for the thousandth time.

 

“It’s not what I want.” I pull her close to me and rub her shoulders as she sobs into my chest.

“Call dad, tell him I’m stopping the treatments.” She nods and pushes herself up from the chair and quickly walks out of the room with her face pressed to her phone.

 

I wish I could say that my dad has always been there for me but he moved to Chicago for work a few years ago after my mom divorced him. He designs clothes for retail services and often tries to get my approval by mailing me clothes that he thinks I will like. We don’t really talk much to know anything about each other and he’s come to visit me a few times this month but it’s awkward, there’s nothing to talk about, only asking how I am and he gets the same answer every time he asks, which is annoyingly frequent; “could be better. Yourself?” He would nod and say he’s been busy with work then sits beside me in silence and throw on a movie. After that he would drive back to Chicago and won’t ask to visit again for a few weeks. It’s repetitive and I don’t think I like him anymore, he isn’t the same. Work has taken over and he seems to like designing clothes more than his own dying son-- but that’s probably not the case, it just feels that way.  

 

My mom comes back in the room followed by tears and discreet sobs then jams her phone in her purse.

“Your dad is coming soon.” She rubs her thumb over the top of my fingers and sucks in a breath. “He’s going to stay in Evanston for awhile at the house and thinks it would be best if I stay at home for a bit to get some sleep.” I nod and stare down at my hands; exhausted and my skin is itchy. I take my hands away from my mom’s and scratch my forearm, blood surfaces from the scab as she reaches for a cloth to wipe it up. “No scratching while I’m gone.” I nod again and hold the ratty rag over top of my arm.

After packing all her things, fresh and dirty clothes, fuzzy peaches (which I find revolting), and a journal full of doctor’s and tumour information, my dad arrives looking pale and sickly as ever. I wish he didn’t look like that whenever he saw me, it was like looking at myself; pale, horrified and scared. He takes a few strides towards me and hands me a box of something that smells far too delicious. I open the lid, finding chicken wings coated in mild BBQ sauce and I’m surprised he remembers my favourite food, however mad that the only thing sympathetic action he’s done for me was give me a box of chicken wings other than an assuring smile or a comforting talk. He’s basically saying, “hey my dying son, I haven’t talked to you in two weeks because I design clothes for a living and abandon my family. But here are some chicken wings. Forgive me lord, I am a terrible father.”

He sits on the bed beside me and glides his hand over my unfortunate smooth head. I miss the way he ruffled my full head of voluminous thick brown hair. I cried for weeks when chemo doomed me to such a terrible loss. I sobbed with handfuls of the only thing I like about myself and cried even more when my mom weeped, then threw it in the trash. Now that she talked to the doctor’s and discontinued the treatments I’ll have my full head of hair back and die with it.

“Hey kiddo,” his lips stretch into a thin line as I force out a smile. “We won’t be gone long, maybe a week or two--just until your mom feels better.” He finally stops rubbing my bald head and stands up, straightening out his dress pants. “We’ll call you every day if you want.”

I smile and nod again.

“Thanks for the food.” I trace the edge of the box with my grey fingertips waiting for them to leave and then they do.

It is the loneliest most peaceful night. I hate to say that I’m relieved that my mom has left, but then again, her crying scares me to death (ha!). Without my sleeping pills knocking me out, I can hear distant crying from a room across the hall and feet thudding. A girl around twelve years old cries in pain from her cancer. I’m not exactly sure what stage it is but sometimes I see her laughing with her mom if I get a good view across the hallway, or strong enough to step outside for fresh air. Last week she received a long red wig after she lost her hair and I’ve never seen her happier,  but my mom said that the cancer spread to her organs, mostly her liver that day.

Wailing is what I woke up to, blood curdling wailing. The room is dark, only the gleam of the moonlight making it’s way in through the windows, showing off the drawings I made on the condensation this morning. I shut my eyes, squeezing them shut, trying to make all the bad thoughts go away, trying not to think that when I die, I’ll never play guitar again and see the colour blue.

I always forget falling asleep; waking up disoriented in my bed, seeing doubles occasionally. There is a tray of my medication beside me on a tray that make me drowsy and cranky, but it eases my symptoms.

A nurse walks in with a list of breakfast. Her face looks stretched and her hair loosely in a bun. She barely makes eye contact and that is when I realize that something is wrong.

“Dennice.” I call to her before she reads me the breakfast list, “what happened last night?” She removes her eyes from the paper and makes eye contact with me; piercing my soul with her green pained eyes.

“The poor girl across the hall passed away last night.” She takes in a deep breath and frowns, staring back at the list. “Want the hashbrowns again?”

 

“Yes please.”

 

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As soon as Dennice leaves the room I curl up in my sheets and start crying because life isn’t fair.

I hear the door open slowly, and footsteps walk in. My cheeks are drenched and my vision is blurry from the tears. I wipe my eyes and look up at the tall figure; a girl my age, maybe seventeen years old, is standing before me, looking concerned and sympathetic. I sit up straight on the bed and cross my legs.

 

“Hi, my name is Octavia. I was uh-assigned to your room to assist you--I’m here for volunteer hours.”

Octavia is stuttery, and shaky and a complete nervous wreck and I don’t really understand why. Her hair is slick and dark red pulled into a ponytail showing off her illuminating pale face that’s in the shape of an egg. She unsticks her eyes from the clipboard tightly in her hands and takes a long look at me.

“Don’t worry I’m not high maintenance.” I tell her. She draws her lips in a line and then smiles.

“I think that’s why they assigned me to you, I have little experience.”

I nod and shift my weight, feeling awkward. Does this mean that the other nurses won’t be taking care of me anymore? Because that’s totally fine, Octavia is pretty and I like pretty faces. No offence Dennice. She flips through some papers, her messy eyebrows draw together and glances up at me. “You’re Daniel, right?” I nod again as she frowns at me then swallows hard. Octavia mumbles to herself, I’m trying to tune into what she is saying but I can hardly hear her, “...grade 4 malignant brain tumour…” she swallows again, I can almost hear the glob going down her throat. Jeez how much saliva does this girl have? Octavia sits on my bed, scanning and flipping through the paper’s frantically.

“Are you okay?” I touch her arm gently, my fingers must be cold but she is so warm. I can be selfish for once. She doesn’t reciprocate so I tug at her sleeve as my knuckles graze her soft shoulder.

Octavia whips around, to face me; her amber eyes puncturing me with pity. “I’m sorry..” She wipes her face and takes in a deep breath, “it’s just not fair, you’re so young.”

I chuckle a bit and immediately regret it. “Oh come on, don’t make me feel ridiculous.” She laughs beneath her tears and smiles at me.

“You seem like an emotional person. We just met.” she winces at my words and forces out a nervous laugh. I like the way she smiles, there is a small fold beside her mouth that makes me want to poke it, but that would be weird if I did.

 

“I know, sorry. I have a lot of compassion for people.” Octavia picks at her nails, the corner of her mouth turning up into a sly grin.  

 

“It’s a good thing.” She puts the clipboard down on the desk beside me, and I can’t imagine how putrid I must look to her right now. Pale, bald, and sleepy with enormous bags under my eyes. They probably look like craters by now, sucking up all the colour in my face.

 

“So, what do you do in here?” She scans the room curiously and lands her eyes back to me.

“Wait to die.” Octavia’s eyes widen, it looks like they’re about to roll out of the sockets. I burst out laughing but she doesn't find self deprecation as funny as it is to me. “Too far? Okay, well I used to play guitar when I was strong enough about a month ago and now I just sleep.”

 

“Jesus Christ. Don’t you get bed sores?” I shrug off her question and play with a dice from monopoly. “Do you need anything? Water, or food?”

 

I grin slightly, flipping the dice over to the side with a four on it, how ironic. “Just company.” Octavia grins happily and walks out the door. I wonder if I did anything wrong despite her smile, and before I can question it anymore she quickly returns with a wheelchair.

 

“Hospitals suck, lets go somewhere.”

She takes my arms and pulls me slightly to the edge of the bed, just enough until my feet press against the floor. My back and legs ache, I can’t help but wheeze. I feel her soft hands steady me and hoist me off the bed before I slowly limp towards the wheelchair.  

 

I missed the outside. I missed the chilly air and the extra amount of oxygen. There's no denying that I enjoy the snow layering streets and skin, creating halos on a pretty girls’ red ponytail as she strolls me throughout town, and then asking if I’m cold every ten minutes.

Here I am, a scrawny boy clutching a blanket  in the middle of a hockey shop trying on toques with hockey teams we don’t know.

 

“How about this one? It has a bear on it?” Octavia smoothes the toque over my head and shakes hers. “Nah, I feel like you’re more of a wolf kind of guy.”

 

I chuckle at her lack of knowledge about hockey then realize I’m being a hypocrite. I hate hockey, especially when my dad asks me to watch it with him. “Oh so you mean the Chicago Wolves?” I try and hold back a laugh but it comes rushing out of my mouth like liquid.

 

“Yeah, that.” She walks over to the front desk and buys the wolf toque because “it looks cool.” I feel kind of bad but at least it will cover my ugly head and keep me warm for however long she will be taking me on walks...I mean for however long she will be pushing me around town.

Octavia makes her way towards me and pushes the hat over my head and steps back. “Is it warm? It looks really good on you. Not that you without the hat doesn’t look just as good.”

 

“Is that a joke?” I scratch my neck, my face feels hot and embarrassed. Hopefully it sort of brings colour to my face so I don’t look so much like a freaking ghoul. Octavia looks offended, and it feels like a punch in the gut looking at her right now.

 

“No Daniel, I don’t lie or joke around like that.”

 

“I find it hard to believe. Have you seen me?” She’s looking at the ground frowning, I grab her hand and pull her close to me inches apart from my face, “look at me.” Her honey coloured eyes are glazed over with tears and her eyebrows drawn together. “Dying is not a pretty sight, Octavia.”

 

“Well, as a matter of fact, I think you look like a super hot vampire, minus the sharp bloodthirsty canines.” she giggles and I laugh too because she’s so open and straightforward. I don’t think I’ve laughed this much since before I found out I was dying, in fact, I don’t think I’ve laughed in months.

 

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We spent weeks strolling around town. She took me out almost everyday. When we were not outside we were playing monopoly or watching Christmas movies the entire day in the room. Octavia is a mean baker, which is super attractive. Every week she’d make a batch of gingerbread cookies or make apple pie and we’d argue about music and I’d fail at playing guitar. I can hardly move my arms so she has to feed me. I would call in a nurse when I need to get to the washroom (no way in hell is Octavia helping me with that, even though she insisted.) “I’m going to be a nurse, I need to start somewhere.” she said. And I told her not to be ridiculous, which always offends her for some reason, she just doesn’t seem to understand sarcasm.

 

Today she took me out again, and I got to kiss the fold beside her mouth.

 
 


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