My alarm clock went off singing “Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun” on Magic 106.7. I squinted at the numbers, 6:00, mad that Cindy Lauper interrupted my dream. I had been dreaming of the prom, red dress sparkling in the sunshine, Jack as handsome as ever, royal princesses going off in carriages lead by white stallions. I reached my arms high above my head and took in the scent of breakfast cooking. My hands found my glasses next to the picture of Jack and me on the beach last summer. I was on his shoulders, arms outstretched like a bird.
Breathing in a breath of fresh air, I smiled. I peeked at the calendar counting down the days until prom; a number one was written on today’s date. Suddenly, I began to cough and jerked upright. My chest heaved, my eyes squinted, my face grimaced, the taste of blood sprung onto my tongue. I raced to the bathroom and spit this foreign substance of life into the sink. My heart began to race. I tried to remain calm when I tapped my sleeping mother, still in her nurse scrubs from the night shift, on the shoulder and whispered her name. Upon hearing what was going on, Mom’s eyes widened. She rubbed my back while I spit more blood into a basin. She watched the basin fill with blood and tears. Mom held the cordless phone, numbers beeping as she dialed the doctor. I cried. Dad strolled into the room from the kitchen. Once Mom explained what was going on, they began to pack the car for Children’s Hospital Boston. Mom packed a small suitcase, placed it in the trunk, and sat in the back seat. Dad turned the keys in the ignition while I crawled into the backseat, blood-filled basin in my hand, tears streaming down my cheeks, my mother reaching out to hold me, trembling.
I lay in the familiar hospital room, complete with a bright border filled with happy animals, although the beady-eyed donkey was not something to put a smile on my face. He was an obnoxious orange, and ran around the room a hundred times, his eyes always positioned on me. A nurse had brought in my lunch earlier, a cold hot dog and puke-flavored fries which I only had had a bite of. I lay in the stiff bed in my clean hospital gown, tied extra tight so no one could see my butt, breathing oxygen from an oxygen mask reeking of latex, wiggling my finger with a small device attached to it measuring my oxygen level, and adjusting my arm, wrapped in an automatic blood pressure cuff squeezing at annoying intervals. I shivered, pulled my purple fleece blanket up to my neck, coughed, and spit the scarlet blood from deep within my lungs. My mom entered the room, quietly latching the heavy wooden door behind her.
“How ya feeling, sweet pea?”
“Been better. This hospital food sucks… I have no appetite anyway though,” I managed to say through the gurgling in my chest.
“How’s the cough?”
“Same. What’d the doctor say?”
“You’ve lost a lot of blood, honey.”
“Not too much though, right?”
“Your vital signs don’t look good. Your oxygen’s down to 85% even with the oxygen mask.”
“That’s not that low right? I’m usually 98.”
“Hope, it’s low. Your blood pressure’s low too, and your heart rate is too high. You’re in shock. They have to do a blood transfusion.”
“What?! No! That’s for sick people! They’re wrong. I would know if I was in shock. You lied to them. You told them I was sick. You are NOT me, mom. I told you I was FINE!”
“But you’re not fine! Listen to that cough! You have a serious illness, Hope. It’s time you accept that.”
“The nurse is going to come hook up the blood to your I.V….”
My mom whispered three-syllables as she walked out the door, I rolled my eyes.
NOTE: “Her 7th Chromosome” Copyright Lauren Bombardier 2008