A Short Story

Searing pain tore through my head as blinding light slowly crept into my slumber, cruelly banishing the dreams of my perfectly curved woman into oblivion. What can I say? I may be lying in a children’s hospital with princesses coating the wallpaper, but, I’m still a teenager. I need at least some ‘me time’. However, that’s seemingly hard to gain in the ‘Pink Ward’ of Melrose Children’s Hospital. That’s right, the Pink Ward. In case you were wondering, I am in fact, male. You guessed it, a boy in the Pink Ward. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “surely there was a mix up in spaces; maybe there are too many patients in the Blue Ward to be able to keep him there?” Well, I would like to say you were right, but I’m pretty convinced it’s actually because of my totally stylish Justin Bieber hair cut my Mum chopped with a frightfully nightmarish pair of scissors before this unfortunate tumour in my head was found. To be honest, I think they were what were supposed to pass for garden shears following a summer two years ago when my Mum’s newest craze was to become ‘green fingered’. Those days are behind me, and I’m sporting a choppy, short, uneven cut now (which I am rocking), thanks to the cancerous situation currently residing in the left hand side of my brain. At least it was straight before, even if it did make me look like a girl. It’s safe to say I’m attracting all the ladies. Yeah, all the nurses. And, of course, my Mum.

Do you ever get that feeling when you think someone’s watching you? You can literally feel their eyes boring into the back of your head? I have that. Right now. Despite the fact that the back of my head is facing a wall. That’s the headaches. Side effect. I could sense pupils on my eyelids, the colour green coming to mind- don’t ask; it’s a gift. I can tell someone’s eye colour from the sound of their voice. Maybe it’s a present from God to say sorry for burdening me with an incurable disease. I like that, let’s hope I remember it so I can add it to my blog- ironichoroscopeboy19. That’s because my zodiac sign is Cancer. In case you missed the pun.

The weak springs in my mattress squeaked and screeched as another body flopped down by my feet. My eyes flung open in surprise, almost coming off their hinges. Heavy, long brunette waves cascaded around her shoulders; maybe she was a relative. I must have been staring at her hair for a long time because her voice soon filled my ears… “It’s a wig”. She must be a newbie if she has next to no hair. “Why do you wear a wig?” I asked her, quite impolitely. “I don’t understand why people try to hide the fact they have cancer, four out of ten people in the whole world have it, or will have it at one point in their life. And it’s hardly contagious; if you sneezed you won’t pass it on to the people in a three meter perimeter around you, so why do you do it?” I didn’t regret my words, but I figured it was slightly forthcoming when I didn’t even know this girls name. “My Mum just visited, I don’t think she’s really come to terms with the fact that I’m ill. I don’t give a fuck that I have post-Harry Potter Emma Watson hair. It’s quite edgy. We have pretty similar hair, actually!” She exclaimed, leaning towards me and tugging at the tufts on my head.
“What’s your affliction?” I asked her. “Leukaemia. Diagnosed three years ago. And your fine self?”
“Brain tumour. Left hand side. What’s your name?” “I am Patient 23609.” “Pleased to meet you 23609, I’m Patient 37842.” “My pleasure.” She responded. “Believe me, the pleasure is mine” I added with a wink. I used to have quite an effect with that line, the whole looking to the floor, smiling, and rose tinted cheeks. I think I’ve lost my charm. My hair, my dignity, now my charm? Really, Cancer? You really do hate me; you’re taking everything away from me, I’ll start shrinking soon!

We sat for a while. We talked. I showed her my scars, and she showed me hers. I found out her favourite films; a mixture of The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Say Anything. How she wished she was born in the 80’s but is kind of glad she wasn’t because treatment wouldn’t have been as good back then. How her wardrobe was a collection of her Mum’s old clothes from when she was a teenager in the 80’s, and how she had a secret fantasy of meeting George Clooney and giving him her Mum’s number. How her Dad died in a car accident four months ago, and how she began to hate the world because she was in the car. How ‘whatever bullshit up there should have took the one with Leukaemia’. How unconventionally beautiful she is. She didn’t tell me that, of course. I saw it. We talked through dinner, through daily injections. We lay together on the bed, staring at the pasty white tiled ceiling, our fingers daintily brushing each other from time to time. She found out how my favourite film was Batman Begins and how I always dreamed of living in a manor, with my own ‘Rachel’. How Bruce Wayne loved his Rachel, and how one day I will love my Rachel.

When she had to go back to her own bed, we text each other from the other sides of the ward, having previously swapped our numbers at lunch time. Perhaps I still had that charm, only I had misplaced it momentarily. Her replies became slower and slower, and I realised it was 1:00am. Too late for a Cancer Kid. We said our goodnights, and I stayed up for the next twenty minutes thinking about her. I didn’t even know her name. I quickly fell asleep, even though it felt like years. I dreamt of Patient 23609. I dreamt of her meeting George Clooney through the magic of the Genies and the Make a Wish Foundation. I’d give her my wish if I could.

I woke to the sound of small sobs around me, and suddenly felt something in the palm of my hand. A crumpled up piece of paper, maybe? I waited for the noises to stop and looked at the note. At the top was a direction: ‘Give this to Patient 37842.’ Right at the bottom of the paper was a message.

“All my love, Rachel.”

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