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The doctors had been drifting in and out of my room for the past few hours. Time was getting difficult to tell because of the morphine they had recently put me on. I kept slipping in and out of consciousness, so I couldn't really blame her. The pain was completely gone, but I suppose that was all thanks to the IV drip. I liked watching it seep out of the bag, it drifted straight into my arm like a river of sorts, and every once in awhile, a nurse would come by and put a new bag full of clear liquid in its place.
Jay came a little earlier, she said she was proud of me. I was worried about her; her skin was several shades too light, her eyes looked bruised, and she had definitely lost weight. She assured me nothing was wrong. I may have been seriously doped up, but I knew something was definitely wrong. I wasn't stupid.
Dave never came. Not while I was conscious anyways. Not that I really cared one way or another, it just would've been nice to at least PRETEND I had a parent that was worried sick about me, but I knew I was WAY too old to still be pining over this.
The doctors came around some time in the afternoon. The grogginess had almost completely worn off.
"Jonathan? Can you hear me?"
I nodded. I could hear them just fine. One of them shined this stupid little flashlight in my eyes. I looked over, Jay was sitting in the chair at the far end of the room. I felt my heart twist. She was scared. Scared to even come near me.
"Jonathan, the cancer has gone into complete remission. We're letting you go home tonight. We've already installed some equipment to monitor you at night and you are to come in once a week so we can continue to study your progress. The bone marrow transplant went better than we could have hoped, considering it wasn't from immediate family."
I nodded away, it was basically the same thing they said every day, well except the remission part.
"What does remission mean?"
"It means that the leukemia has started to turn around, and as long as everything goes well, there's no reason not to believe that you have an extended life."
Jay stood up and walked over to my bed. I felt her fingers on my cheeks as she kissed both my eyes.
"You beat it baby. You get to come home." Then she whispered so the doctors couldn't hear, "I think you've earned the chance to meet my family." I smiled at myself. Tomorrow was going to be a big day for the both of us. If Erik did what I asked him to do, the ring was sitting on my dresser right now.
Twelve Hours later...
"Hey? You awake?"
"Mmmm..." She snuggled in closer to my chest. I waved to Dave at the door. I'd asked him to leave, I wanted to spend the day with Jay. I looked down at her again; she never appeared more fragile to me than when she was asleep. She'd had so much to deal with these past eighteen months. In my eyes, she was definitely ready to be my wife.
I dragged my fingers lightly over her skin. She was always to soft and warm. Her eyes fluttered open.
"Hey." Her voice was soft and gentle, it always reminded me of a kind of blanket. I was the only one to ever see her like this. She only ever slept in my bed... Not that we EVER did anything. I wasn't well enough to, I didn't want to disappoint her, so it was better to wait. I’d turned off the monitors a long time ago, the beeping had been annoying, and I knew I didn’t need them. She looked up at me, her long lashes blinking slowly, the way she always did when she woke up. Her eyes were just the right type of red-rimmed that really brought out the black brown depths. She smiled up at me, her head still resting on my arm.
“Hey. Nice seeing you here in the morning for a change.
“It’s our anniversary. How are you feeling?” Always looking out for me.
“I know; I’m feeling wonderful, better than I have in a long time.”
“He heard you come in last night and left early this morning. He won’t be back until evening. Will you stay?”
“Of course. How does eggs and o.j. sound?”
“Well, I’ve never been a fan of O.J. Simpson, but the eggs sound wonderful.” she laughed, “Now that’s what I live for, right there.”
She laughed quietly as she stretched out like a cat. “Can I brush your hair today?” I saw reluctance color her face, so I made my “I’m weak” face. “Please? I never get to brush your hair!” She nodded slowly.
“Yes. I’ll go get the chair and the brush.”
“In the bathroom next to the bookrack.”
“Mmmkay.” She slipped on a pair of my boxers and a sports bra and left the room. I dashed out of bed and grabbed the ring. Shoving it into a pair of pants I put the pants on quickly pretending like I was just getting dressed as she walked in. “You are feeling better aren’t you?”
“Yeah, here sit down; I cleared a spot on the floor for the chair. Come sit down and relax, you were probably scared to death the whole time I was gone.” She pulled up a chair and lay back against it. I could see her fingers twine through her curls as she lifted the massive sea of fire over her shoulders. “Don’t move. Okay?” The brush pulled through without too much effort. She closed her eyes, and I knew I had to make my move.
“Yes, and if you ever do that to me again, sick or not, I’ll kick your butt from here to kingdom come; understood?” Her voice sounded stern, but I knew she meant the best.
“I’m glad you let me do this today. I love the way your hair curls when it’s brushed, you wear it messy, but if you’d let me, I’d brush it everyday, you look so much prettier when it’s brushed.”
“Yes, and there’s another reason I wanted you to let me do this today.”
“Yeah, and what’s that?” I reached down into my pants pocket and got on my knee in front of her. She opened her eyes slowly, confused; then, focused on the ring in my fingertips.
“This is why.” I looked her directly in the eyes, my heart was racing so fast I thought it was going to blow. “Jay… __________. I know my future is kind of unknown right now, and I understand that we’ve both been through a lot these past eight months, but I want to make up for it. I want to make up for those three months I was gone by being with you for the rest of my life. Will you marry me?” Her words caught in her throat. I felt my heart twist when I thought she might say no.
“Yes…” Her voice was harsh and emotionally-choked. Tears streaked down her face like tiny rivers. My voice caught. She was mine.
Several hours later (in the rain)…
“Ah, come on, you know it was a good proposal.” I laughed as she repeated my stupid little monologue.
She threw her head back and let the rain streak over her skin. Anyone else might have thought she was childish, but I knew how much Nature meant to her. It was a piece of her as much as she was a piece of it. Embracing the rain like that? She was giving her joy to the Earth. I’d seen her do it before, and it never ceased to amaze me. In fact, it always made her seem more beautiful, more… unique. I wound my fingers tightly through hers. Being there with her, like that, it was the best moment I ever could’ve asked for.
“Jonny…” A voice taunted me from behind. Loud, billowy and as cruel as a heart carved of stone. I recognized the voice immediately as my brother, Erik’s. It never ceased to creep me out. I saw Jay freeze. I’m not sure why, but she looked terrified. What did he do to her?
“No!” I heard myself screaming. Things happened frame by frame. Erik’s voice, the gunshot, Jonny falls, blood splatters all over me, I scream. Jonny was dead! Why? I couldn’t say anything. I was suddenly falling. His ruined face in my hands, I did this. I didn’t take the bullet, I didn’t act fast enough. I’m the reason he’s dead. I am…I am…I am…I am a murderess. I felt his beach hat under my fingertips. Erik was already gone. I put the hat over his face. Sirens could already be heard in the distance. I was too late. I placed the hat over his face and stood, numbly, I had to walk away. I would have my revenge…