This is a delaying tactic… I have no new novel excerpt ready. Life intrudes, writing suffers, but at least my back catalog is heavy. This is a favorite short story of mine. In a bit of a different style …
Willa: I met Jeremy at a party the week before we graduated from college. We spent the whole night in a quiet corner of the crowded apartment talking. Somehow, we got separated before we could exchange phone numbers and I thought I’d never see him again.
I was standing with my family on the sidewalk outside the auditorium after the commencement, when Jeremy came rushing out of the building. He looked around frantically, then smiled when he spotted me waving. Without hesitation, he swept me into his arms and kissed me soundly on the lips. “I found you!” he said, laughing. “I thought I’d lost you forever!”
We had a glorious summer. I would start my teaching job in September. He would begin post-graduate studies at City University. We were determined to keep up our relationship even at a distance. In late August, while I helped Jeremy pack, I felt a sharp twinge of pain in my belly and I nearly doubled over. “Honey, are you all right?” he asked, concerned.
“Something I ate,” I said, as the pain passed. Later, I had another twinge, not as severe, and I didn’t let him see. A couple hours later, the pains got so bad I collapsed.
Jeremy: I had known something was wrong. From that very first time she felt the pain, I just knew. After packing up my things, we had a simple dinner at home that night. She made grilled chicken and sweet potatoes. I sat across from her and watched her push the food around on her plate.
“Willa, you have to see what’s wrong. I can’t stand to watch you in this much pain,” I said.
“It’s probably nothing,” she said, trying to make light of it. “I’m going to try a new diet. Giving up gluten and dairy. No more red meat.”
She winced and clutched her stomach, dropping her fork on the floor. I shoved my chair back and went around the table to gather her close. “Honey, come on. I’m taking you to the hospital.”
She tried to argue but I insisted. She had another attack of pain as I helped her into the car. The drive to the hospital felt like it took forever. When we got there, apparently because Willa wasn’t bleeding from her eyeballs, she was relegated to the end of the lengthy emergency room queue. We took a seat in the waiting area and I helped her fill out the paperwork.
Willa: At first, they thought it was kidney stones. A CT scan was ordered and they put me on some serious pain medication. Kidney stones weren’t dangerous, right? I breathed a sigh of relief. Jeremy held my hand while we waited for the results. The meds were only taking the edge off the pain. It was all I could do to lie still.
When the doctor came in to see me, she looked serious. This was going to be worse than kidney stones. Jeremy squeezed my hand and I braced for the news.
“You have a large mass in your abdomen. We don’t know what it is. You’ll need to have an ultrasound,” she said. “I’m sending you right down to the lab.”
I looked over at Jeremy. His eyes were brimming with tears. We were both thinking the same thing: cancer.
Jeremy: My lungs felt cold. No. It couldn’t be, I tried to tell myself. She’s too young. We have our whole lives ahead of us. This can’t be happening. Tears welled up and I cursed myself for not being strong for her. They wheeled her on a gurney to the ultrasound lab, while I walked beside her holding her hand and swallowing my fear.
I don’t have a clue what they see on those scans. Instead, I watched the tech’s face for some indication of the result. He squinted at the screen, stared grimly and hurried out to get the doctor.
Willa: I can live with out my uterus, I thought. As long as I get to live, I can live without it. Then I thought about Jeremy and the fact that we’d never have children of our own. Maybe that would be a deal breaker. He deserved better. In my anguish, I began to weep.
“Willa,” he murmured. “I love you.” He kissed my forehead and stroked my hair.
The doctor came in almost immediately. “You have ovarian torsion,” she said. “That mass is your ovary. I’m sorry but it’s going to have to come out.”
I blinked. Not cancer. “What does that mean?” I asked, in a daze.
“The fallopian tube has become twisted. The blood supply to the ovary has been cut off. It’s dying. You’re going to need surgery right away.”
“I’m not going to die?” I asked, through hopeful tears.
She smiled. “No, dear. You’re going to be just fine. Your other ovary appears to be normal and healthy. Now, listen, we’ll be prepping you for surgery shortly. Try and breathe, all right?”
She left us then and I turned to Jeremy. He rose from his seat and leaned over to gather me into his arms. I sobbed, “I thought the worst. And then I thought the second worst.”
He pulled back and gently framed my face with his hands. “The second worst? What do you mean?” he asked, wiping tears away with his thumbs.
“I thought maybe we… if they had to take my… then I couldn’t have a baby,” I stammered. “And then maybe you wouldn’t want to…”
“Oh honey, I’m not going anywhere. All I want is you,” he said, smiling. “Now put your sweet lips on mine and kiss me.”