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Maybe Tomorrow This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I hate hospitals; they are cold and uninviting. My father is sitting next to me, carrying on a conversation with my mother that I cannot follow. I look back to my book. My mom is playing with a spoon left from her dinner. She smiles as she talks, but it’s not really her. She is weak and vulnerable sitting there in front of me. I try to smile but I do not recognize her. She looks the same, but here she is no longer that strong and fearless woman. On our way to her room we bought her a stuffed brown dog that she now clutches playfully. I force a grin.

I don’t know how I should feel. I don’t really like to deal with illness or death. It’s something that should never affect me. I know she will be all right, but I hate the fact that she is sick at all. I hate her for being sick, but I don’t really hate her. I love her. I push the negative thoughts to the back of my mind. My mother starts to talk to me. Taking this opportunity, my father leaves. I sit uncomfortably, alone with her. She smiles, as though she is signaling me to say something.

I try not to notice. I don’t know what to say. There is a barrier of stubbornness and strength between us. She didn’t tell me she was sick; she was trying to protect me. I didn’t tell her I was worried; I didn’t want to scare her. She’ll be all right.

Outside in the hall, the nurses are talking about the elections. “You won’t be able to vote tomorrow,” I say. She nods. The conversation ends. I try desperately to think of something good to say. There are a thousand things I should say, that I want to say, but for some reason I don’t know how.

I hate seeing her sick. She tells me to be good, to drive safely, to make her Jell-O, and take care of Daddy. I nod. Silence. I mention briefly my school day, the quiz I took and what I had for lunch – things that aren’t really relevant to this present situation. I want to tell her I love her, that she is the world to me, that I am sorry for the fights we’ve had, but the words are trapped behind our barrier. My father comes in; it is eight o’clock, visiting hours are over.

She smiles. My father bends over and kisses her. It is their first night apart since they’ve been married. She plays with the stuffed dog and laughs like a child. I kiss her good night. She reminds me to make her Jell-O; I smile. I feel tears swelling inside of me. She is so vulnerable, I think, and she needs me so much right now, but I am too afraid. I will see her tomorrow. She will be okay. The preliminary tests look good.

We stand at the door, wave good-bye, and then head down the hallway. The tears run down my cheeks. I scold myself; I need to be strong. I want to turn back and tell her how important she is to me, but the nurses are already in the room checking her. I hate myself at this moment. She needs me and I have let her down. I have missed another chance to tell my mother what she means to me. Maybe tomorrow I will tell her. I turn my head so my tears aren’t visible to my father.

On the drive home, we talk about who will win the election. The conversation is annoying because all I can think about is what I should have said to my mother. When we arrive home, I sense something is not right. She will be home soon, maybe even tomorrow. I go to the kitchen and boil the water for her Jell-O.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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