Editor’s Note: This is the third fictional post in a continuation. So, if you have not read the other two posts, please read those first before reading the post below.
#1 Fictional Friday: Her Billy
#2 Fictional Friday: Our Billy
I am so digging this fictional writing. So fun. Enjoy Letting Go of Billy…
The bubbles danced in the air. The clear, perfectly shaped circles were impervious to the sadness that dwelled in this place. The little girl tried to avoid looking at the needle poking.
“Blow more bubbles, baby!” encouraged her mom in a shaky, loud voice in at attempt to distract her daughter. The nurse keenly focused on the veins of the girl’s left arm. “One more breath, Nikki,” the mom urged. “Let’s see your biggest bubbles.”
The girl blew deeply. One last lingering bubble landed on top of the bed railing. The bubble sat still – as if it were waiting for someone, or something. The girl grimaced and flinched. “Ouch!” she yelled. The bubble popped into nothingness as if it had sensed its cue to disappear.
Leila was making her final rounds in the hospital’s pediatric neuro-oncology unit. Now on board as a permanent, full-time doctor at the hospital, her years of hard work were finally paying off.
The other big life change besides her new position was Billy’s acceptance to the famous Juilliard School of performing, arts and music in New York.
Before the letter arrived, Billy had little confidence he would be accepted as the admittance rate is less than 10 percent. But she knew better. Billy’s father, Keith, had studied under the department head and made a call. However, she did not want Billy to have any idea that he may not have made it in on his own merit.
On the outside she glowed with pride, but the thought of being without him made her stomach turn. She would miss touching his soft locks of hair and kissing his forehead before she left in the early morning. She would miss their Wednesday Chinese take-out date night.
Being alone terrified her. At age 34, she would be an empty nester and truly, utterly alone.
Of course, another big turning point of the year was the return of Keith, who was Billy’s biological father. He visited twice this last year, and calls Billy a few times a week. They are becoming close. They are becoming father and son.
When Keith visited the last time, she made no commitments, no promises. She liked it that way. She was used to it that way.
Leila felt like she owed him. She just wasn’t sure what that meant, exactly.
On the surface, Keith seemed like the same nice guy she dated in high school. The same guy whose brown eyes melted her. She stared at the medical chart in a daze remembering the love and heartbreak.
“Dr. Andersen, you’re needed in room 303,” requested the charge nurse. “STAT.”
And this was a heartbreak of another kind. It was the room of her patient: five-year-old Nikki.
Nikki loved coloring and horses. Initially, she had begun throwing up and treated for acid reflux. But then the headaches came with a vengeance.
Leila reviewed the results of the MRI: cancerous brain tumor. The tumor would have to be removed.
She assisted in the surgery, which was professionally thrilling. Unfortunately, Nikki suffered a stroke during the surgery that severely impaired the right side of her body. Simultaneously, she still had to undergo chemotherapy while recovering from brain surgery. The chances for long term, even short-term survival were grim.
Now it was a week after the surgery. Leila could hear the scream of Nikki’s mother from down the hallway. When Leila arrived, nurses were pulling the mother from the room while she lunged towards the door. “No, not my Nikki. No. Help her, help her…”
She was in full cardiac arrest. Leila began life-rescuing procedures while whispering, “Hang in there, Nikki. I promised to take you to see the horses, remember? Remember?”
Leila was able to finally stabilize her after multiple attempts. That was too close.
In the hallway, nurses were trying to calm down Nikki’s mother from hysterics. She explained the severity of the situation to the mother.
Once calm, she asked: “Dr. Andersen, can you at least ease her pain?” With Nikki being at the maximum limit for pain control given her recent episode, Leila could make no promises.
Not for today. Not for this hour. Not for this minute.
Looking at the clock, she realized Billy’s national vocal competition in the neighboring city was just an hour away. Driving in the car, her mind wandered to Nikki and her mother.
Ease her pain.
Pulling into the arena parking lot, she recognized the figure standing near the box office. A handsome man in a brown tweed jacket with his hair swept to one side. It was Keith.
He knew how important this vocal competition was to Billy, to her. He waved slowly. “Hey, Leila,” he greeted. Inside, she smiled. But on the outside, she couldn’t show how happy she was to see him.
Billy shined during the competition placing third overall. The three went to dinner following. Life felt good. The three of them felt right together.
With an early morning shift ahead, her mind shifted back to Nikki. Entering the hospital room later in the morning, she could hear the painful groans of her pint-sized patient.
She wanted to end her pain. She wished that someone would have been there to ease her own pain as a child. Making a decision that would forever change her life, she increased the drip flow exponentially.
Suddenly, she heard a voice at the door call: “Leila? I mean, Dr. Andersen?” She was startled.
“Keith, what are you doing here?” she asked. “Uh, sorry to bother you at the hospital,” he said. The drip monitor began to sound. “Is everything OK?” he asked.
A nurse made her way to the room. “Who increased the levels on this?” asked the nurse. Silence. Keith had seen her at the machine just minutes before.
You could see the uncomfortable look in his darting eyes. Meeting in the hospital cafeteria for coffee, there was an awkwardness that did not exist before.
They chatted, of course, about Billy and the impressive vocal show from the evening before. He also announced his plans to move back to the area. Billy would be thrilled. Leila wasn’t quite sure how she felt just yet.
Just before Keith left to catch his plan back to San Francisco, he turned to Leila and asked: “Did you do it?” She looked down knowing exactly what the question meant.
Looking up she responded, “I had to help ease her pain, Keith. No one was there for me. I want to be there for her.”
“I was there, Leila. You just never let me in,” he quipped.
Staring with a blank look in her eyes she said, “What have I done?”
“We acquire the strength we have overcome.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dedicated to the real Nicollette, who is fighting and winning the battle against cancer now as a six-year-old at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, California.
Writing Prompt: Your character commits a crime. (What is the motive?) Your character’s husband/wife/Significant Other, discovers your character changing, dealing with the evidence, and wants to know what’s going on. Write the conversation. What happens next?
Don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers who have joined the fictional fun. You won’t be disappointed.