Chapter Two – The Check-up

"Now, Raven, I want you to take a deeeeeep breath and hold it for as long as you can!" The nurse's tone was polite and gentle, but Raven knew what it meant. It must be a tough job, watching children come and go, getting treated for monstrous disease that only ¼ of them will make it through.

Raven breathed a deep breath as the nurse rested his hand upon her back, right where her lungs supposedly were. She held it, and she held it, and she held it even longer until her lungs felt as though they were throbbing and about to burst. Only then did she breathe out, the air traveling quickly. She looked at the nurse hopefully.

The nurse nodded kindly, writing down a few numbers on his clipboard. The clipboard of secrets, Raven liked to call it. Only mother, father, and nanny Adelee were to see glance upon those papers. It wasn't fair. Those papers were hers, after all. The truth was, the adults decided that it would do nothing but make her pessimistic. At least the kindred nurse was a realist, like Raven. He didn't shield her from the results. He let her know.

"Well, Raven, I've got some good news and I've got some bad news for you. Which would you like to hear first?"

Raven bit her lip, thinking. It was a big question for her, though it didn't matter all that much. She could hear the good first, and it could help her through the bad knowing that the good was still there. Or she could handle the bad and be relieved by the good at the end. "Yes," she thought, "save the best for last."

"Bad first, I'd like to hear the bad news first..." The doctor nodded, flipping through his sheets until he came up with the X-ray papers. As the paper slipped into her hand, she sighed with devastation. The liquid in her lungs, it was slowly filling. It was going to need to be drained again. Draining was a slow process that made her chest thoroughly sore. The nurse droned on and on and on about this medical term and that medical term, but all she saw was a lung filled with cancer.

"It will have to be drained, you know. We can't just let it sit there. We've gotten you an appointment or next week to get it drained, but if you feel like you're having tough time breathing, have your…nanny... drive you here right away."

Raven nearly laughed in his face. If she was having a tough time breathing? Her breathing was never comfortable. That's why she was there, in the hospital. That's why she endured everything. She dreaded the day that she would ask for bad news first, like she did today, and she would get a countdown of days to her death.

"The good news?" Raven spoke, her face hopeful. Maybe 'Make a Wish' had finally accepted her request to travel the world. Maybe her mother finally got that new job offer she'd been hunting for. Maybe stem cell research had finally found a cure for her sickness.

"Right, the good news. We can't forget about that, now can we? Drum roll, please?" The nurse said, and Raven and he proceeded to pat their legs, imitating a drum for a few seconds. Raven laughed, her teeth shining. That's when the doctor opened the door and her father walked in.

"You're coming to stay with me this weekend." Raven jumped from the hospital bed, nearly knocking herself over, and threw herself into her father's embrace.