Chapter One

The first thing I remember is the silence.

For fifteen seconds, no one said a word. It felt like an eternity. I know, because I counted. It was all I could do to keep from falling apart. My mom, on the other hand, was losing it. Her face was scrunched up and going red. I knew at any moment, she was going to let the waterworks explode from her eyes.

The second thing I remember is the word repeating in my head, over and over, a thousand times. That I didn't count. I would get halfway through saying the word in my head and get choked up. But the cycle would start up again, saying the word over and over.


The word fell from the doctor's mouth like it meant nothing to him. But it meant everything and more to me. I felt like throwing up. I clutched the side of the chair tightly. It was all I could do from feeling like I was going to float away.

For fifteen seconds now, I had been officially diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.

"The good news," said the doctor, finally breaking the silence, "Is that this is a very common type of Leukemia. We can get you treated and fixed up in no time." He tried to smile, but both my mom and I barely registered it.

"How common is 'common?'" muttered my mom. Her voice cracked and trembled.

Please don't cry, mom, I begged in my mind.

"Common as in most of the cases that go through here are for A.L.L.," replied the doctor.

"What are her chances?"

The doctor pursed his lips. "Assuming we target the correct places in a timely fashion, I'd say she has an eighty-five percent chance of living a completely normal life, free of any worries about it. Of course, there'll be minor side-effects because of the treatment but she'll–"

"And what if she doesn't undergo treatment?" interrupted my mom.

Oh no.

The doctor's face fell. "I'm not sure I understand."

My mom wiped her eyes, ridding of the water that had fallen. "What are her chances of getting through this without treatment?"

"Ms. Fay, I'm not sure I quite understand what you're–"

"I said, what are the chances of my daughter surviving the Leukemia without the chemo or radiation?" Her voice was rising.

The doctor leaned forward, resting his hands on his oak desk and folding them together. "I would say her chances were slim to none."

I squeezed my eyes shut, a tear finally slipping from my eyes and landing on my hands that were now in my lap, twisted together. I knew this was coming. I knew it was. But I still felt like I was getting stabbed in the chest.

"But, Ms. Fay, you can't seriously not want your daughter to receive the treatment? She'll... she won't make it. You know this. Why wouldn't you want her to get the radiation?"

My mom stood from her seat, clutching her purse in her hands tightly. Feeling wobbly, I swallowed and slowly stood as well. Maybe it was from the cancer, or because I didn't want any of this to be actually happening, but I felt like crap. Complete and utter crap.

"Thank you for your time, Dr. Horne," said my mom sharply before she turned and left. I stayed for a moment, looking the doctor in the eyes, saying I'm sorry without actual words.

The doctor handed me something – his business card. "Call if you need anything, okay? I may be a doctor, but I can sure be a good listener."

I took the card and slipped it into my back pocket of my jeans before turning my back and leaving as well.

In the car on the way back home, I finally decided to speak up. "Why did you have to treat him so badly? He was just trying to help." My mom said nothing. I sighed, knowing no matter what I said, it wouldn't sway her opinion. "So what are we going to do? Just pretend what he just said didn't happen? Go on with our lives and just wait for me to... die?"

My mom's grip on the steering wheel tightened. "We'll cross that bridge when we get there," she mumbled.

"Mom, we are at that bridge! We've already crossed the damned bridge! I'm dying, Mom."

She banged the wheel, causing the car to swerve a little into the other lane. "You will watch your language, Darcy!" she yelled.

I shrunk back in the seat a little. I didn't speak. She needed to cool off. After a couple moments, she took a breath and said, "I will not let you die, Darc," her voice shook with each word she spoke, "But we just do not have the money to pay for it. Every cent was put forward to finding out what you've got, and that's all gone now. We just can't pay."

"What about a loan?" I asked, glancing at her. Her face was stone looking out at the road.

She shook her head and replied, "I owe the bank enough already. There's no possible way to get another loan."

"What about Tom's car? It's not too old... we can sell it easy enough and get a decent amount of money for it, too."

My mom started to squeeze the steering wheel again. "No. We are not selling Tom's things, let alone his car. Besides, do you even know how much radiation costs? Thousands and thousands of dollars. You can keep naming things, but it won't be enough. It'll never be enough."

"So you're just going to let me die," I stated. My vision started blurring as my eyes welled. "You're just willing to lose me like you've lost everyone else." To that, my mom stayed silent.