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The Secrets That I Keep - 3

By , Fort Wayne, IN
“Where is he? It’s been over a week. Tell me where he is!” I have Dave by the shoulders, and I’m running myself ragged with worry. But who wouldn’t? I was frantic. Dave’s glasses slid down his nose a bit. He was a short man, almost shorter than me, so maybe five foot three. He had no hair, and his arms wouldn’t lay flat to his sides, he had too much muscle. Dave was not someone to mess with, but right then, if he had gotten in my way, I would have gladly torn him apart.

Dave stood there silently beneath my scrutiny. Like he was half-way afraid to answer, half-way downright angry. I did NOT care. I think he read in my face that I meant business because he pointed to my shoes by the door and motioned for me to get in the car. His saying nothing said absolutely everything. I laced my shoes deliberately, taking my sweet time because I was almost afraid of where I was being taken. Dave had always said I was more mature than most other girls my age, that I could face down problems with a level mind and a steady hand, but when it came to this, I felt like taking my fourteen-year-old self and breaking down into a steady stream of tears, begging him to just tell me.

I didn’t though. I stayed cool and collected and took my seat in the passenger side of Dave’s rusted, red, ’87 Ford Pick-up truck. The thing sputtered more than an old man with tuberculosis, but if it got me to where Jonny was, I would have ridden bare-back on a wild mustang down I69. I was through with playing games. Dave pulled up into Visitor Parking at Parkview Main, I felt my stomach drop, I had hoped we were going to be passing by this place, but I guess I’d already known my final destination.

The hospital waiting room was just like every other hospital I’d ever been in. it stunk of antiseptic and illness. As soon as I stepped my foot in the door, I wanted to step right back out. We didn’t stop at the front desk, instead, Dave just stalked forward slowly. I had no choice except to follow. I don’t remember the room number, or even which floor I was on, just that I was in the wretched place, passing door after door with curtains pulled, old men coughing, a few children sleeping. All of them had tubes and wires sticking all over their bodies. And the blood bags…? Don’t get me started on the gagging reflex…

Jonny was the only one in his room. The curtains were drawn and the bed next to him was neatly and generically made. I swept aside the curtain and struggled against the tears at what I saw. Jonny was ash grey all over and more gaunt than I’d ever seen him. He had a feeding tube shoved down his throat, a wrist IV with four tubes joined into it and heart monitors strapped to him. He didn’t even look human. I choked back the urge to scream at all the nurses bustling around him, and instead grabbed for his hand. “Everything’s gonna be all right baby. You’ll see. Everything’s gonna be just fine.”

August 19, 2008

Dear Journal,

I went to one of the chemo sessions yesterday while Mom and Don were in Busco. Dave said this might be my only opportunity. He hasn’t gotten any better, and the cure is making him worse. But everyone says it ‘s gotta be worse before it can get better. I guess I can believe that. Sorta. Kitty’s been ragging on me to hurry up and pick a boy already. I can’t… He still needs me, he’s still alive. I really wish I could tell her. This secret hurts to keep. The session itself didn’t look so bad. Dave and I stood with doctors in a room with a window looking into the room he was in. He laid on a hospital table while a loud machine with lights went around him in a circular motion. It didn’t look painful, or even like anything really, When it was done, some doctors went in for some blood samples, mouth swabs, and some other standard procedure things. Then we left. About an hour later, at his house, he started screaming. His ashy face was all red and white splotchy and his whole body was contorted, like he had every muscle tensed from the pain. I can barely even write it without thoroughly shaking, it was so scarey. I think mom’s calling, I have to go…

Love,

Skeeter





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