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The room is as white as lies; white floors, white furniture, white walls, and a white bed all glare mockingly at me. The solemn, full moon peeking through the windows merely adds to my mood. In fact, even my emotions are as blank as an unused piece of paper. Everything is plain; frighteningly plain.
I strain to hear my fast-paced heart beat over the pulse of the beeping monitor next to me, hoping I can find distraction in its staccato tones. I wait in discomfort.
Finally, the door to my room squeals open after all of those long, dreadful hours. Killer bees begin to swarm in my stomach, attacking every inch of my digestive organs. I clutch rough sheets in my hand and wait for the doctor to appear.
“Ah, there you are, Nicole,” the doctor says cheerfully, despite the fact that we both know he was never searching for me. He closes the door behind him. “Just the girl I want to see!”
I’m terrified out of my mind. “Hi,” I manage to squeak. The doctor strolls beside me, sits on the bed and pats my knees kindly. I recoil slightly.
Everything is wrong. I don’t belong here. I’m supposed to be at school; laughing with my friends, stressing over homework, painting my nails. I’m supposed to be doing normal things normal teenagers do. Instead, I’m trapped here, imprisoned in colorless bars and poked and prodded with needles.
“So, how is my favorite patient feeling today?” The doctor asks joyfully. I figure he must say this to every patient he visits with false sympathy, which irritates me.
“I’m in a hospital,” I reply under my breath, “what do you expect?”
The doctor continues to pat my knees with a smile like I haven’t said a thing. Yet, he still is relentless with questions, trying his best to stall what is irrefutable.
“Where’s your mother?” He cocks his head curiously. I gulp, then wince. My mom left almost two hours ago, saying she needed to “think things through.” Really, I know what that means.
“She’s downstairs,” I lie smoothly.
The doctor pauses. Despite his artificial smile, grief and pity gleams in his crystal eyes. I know what’s coming.
“Your test results are back,” he says quickly and without warning. I know he’s waiting for my reaction, especially when I feel his icy blue eyes bare into my flaming hazel ones. I watch as his smile begins to fade and squirm under his scrutiny. I know he’s serious. No more Mr. Pretend-to-be-Cheery. This is what I’m waiting for; yet it’s what I’m desperately afraid of.
I know my mom would want to be here for this, but I don’t want her streaming tears to crumble my strong appearance. Stay tough, stay solid, I repeat to myself.
“And?” I whisper. Am I prepared?
This time the doctor stands up, turns away, folds his hands behind his back, and stares at the full moon through the open blinds.
“You are diagnosed with… cancer, Nicole,” he finally lets out in one sweep of a breath. He doesn’t look at me. I don’t look at him. We sit there in silence for the longest time without saying a word.
“But hey,” he begins while turning back to me, “you’ll be okay, I promise.” He plants on that faux mask I hate.
“I want the truth,” I demand with my chin up. My voice cracks, but I’m not going to succumb to tears. Ever. However, it’s true I want honesty. I’m sick of him treating me like I’m four. I am sick of everyone assuming that I don’t understand a thing.
The doctor exhales a deep and troublesome sigh. “Let’s just say you’ll be here for a while, kid.” He stares at his shoes as he adds, “You’re scheduled for treatment in the morning.”
My heart and stomach sink. Leaning back and closing my eyes, I feel tears fight against my eyelids, but I won’t break like my mother had. I won’t give him what he wants.
I allow myself a few controlled deep breaths; in, out, in out. During a few gratifying moments where I convince myself that all of this is a dream, the doctor pierces the silence mercilessly.
“You should get some sleep. You have a big day ahead of you tomorrow.” He says this softly and walks silently out of the room. Everything is silent after that. Everything; to the monitors, the screaming patients at the end of the hall, the bustling nurses. Nothing registers completely in my mind. I’m numb, my mind without feeling.
I stare blankly at the full moon’s glow just as my mother hurries in almost three hours later. She slams the door and kneels by my side with a tense expression, eyes full of despair.
That’s when I allow the tears to flow.