When Lily woke-up, she was in a hospital bed, and Nan was sitting beside her. “What’s going on?” She blinked her eyes, trying to remember how she got here, but couldn’t. The last thing she could see in her mind was Wyatt Adams standing above her while her brother tickled her until she almost peed her pants.
“You passed out, honey. You’ve done this several times now and we need to make sure you’re okay.” Nan grabbed her hand and squeezed, comforting her without words.
“They’ll be down to take you to have an MRI in a bit.” Wyatt said.
Lily started in surprise. Her mind whirled crazily. She hadn’t thought of the possibility he might be here. Everything was so weird, flashing through her mind like snapshots. “Wyatt, you came, too?”
“Yes, I’m worried about you.” He moved into her view and smiled tenderly.
“Thank you.” Tears of appreciation sprung to her eyes. She didn’t know what was going on with her, but she was glad he was here. The jumbled dreams she’d been having lately kept her in a constant state of uneasiness and it was good to know some things, like Nan, Wyatt and her brother Willie, were constants. She smiled up at the latter as he hovered over her worriedly.
“I’m here too, sis.” He put his hand on her head comfortingly.
“This all seems so unreal.”
“We know, sugar. We’re going to find out what’s going on.”
“I hope so. It’s scary because every time I pass out, I wake up in a different life.”
Nan and Wyatt shared a concerned look. “We’ll tell the doctor, sweetie.”
“When I woke up this time, I was in the same story, though. What does that mean? Are you guys even real, or a figment of my imagination?” Tears of helplessness fell and she rubbed at them furiously. “What’s wrong with me?”
Nan rushed to pull her in for a hug, rubbing her back and shushing her, much like a mother would. “It’s okay, sugar. No matter what it is, I’ll be here with you.”
Lily loved that her friend hadn’t tried to sugar-coat the matter. Something was wrong and it was scary. “Thanks Nan and thank you guys, too.” She looked first at Wyatt, and then Willie. “I don’t want to be alone right now.”
“Don’t worry about it, sis. I’m not going anywhere, and neither is Wyatt.” He looked at the sheriff to confirm his statement.
“As long as there isn’t an emergency, I’ll be right here.”
A male aid came in to take Lily down for her MRI. He pushed her out the door in a wheelchair, Nan right on his heels.
“You can’t go in while they’re testing her and it’s going to take a while.” The aid said as they walked down a long, darkened hallway.
“It’s okay. I’ll sit outside the door. I promised I would stay with her and nothing will make me break that promise.”
“You’re a good friend.” The male aid whispered for her ears only.
“I try to be.”
“How long do you think it’ll take?”
“It could be anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.”
He left them sitting in the hallway outside the door. Nan sat on a long, leather-covered bench and Lily sat in the wheelchair, looking forlorn.
“Let’s pray, sugar.” Nan grabbed Lily’s hand and said a prayer for her recovery. “Dear Lord, please heal Lily and ease her burden. If it’s your will something serious be wrong with her, please give her the ability to withstand whatever it is, and give me the strength to stay by her side, amen.” She let Lily’s hand go and swiped at the silent tears sliding down her cheeks. Guilt for her earlier anger filled her with remorse. What if there was something seriously wrong with her? What if it was a tumor, or a blood clot? So what if she’d taken Linda with her instead of Nan. She hated those boring conferences, anyway.
She hadn’t been jealous for the conference, but for Lily. They’d been friends for over twenty years. When Lily packed up everything she owned two years ago and moved out of Salt Lake to this tiny town in Nowheresville, she’d gladly followed without a second thought. She was so used to having Lily there for her the thought of losing her to someone else was too much for her to handle. She needed to pray to God about that and get it off her chest. Yes, she’d apologized to Lily, but the burden was still there.
“Nan, will I be able to ski again?” Lily wrung the IV tubing in her hand furiously. If she couldn’t ski, how was she going to make a living?
“What? You don’t ski sugar, you’re a writer. Besides, it’s the middle of August, there’s no skiing right now.”
“Huh? But I fell this morning after arriving home from Snowbird. You were mad because I took Linda to the competition instead of you, remember?
Nan stared at her blankly for a second. “I was upset because you took Linda to a writer’s conference with you, sugar. I realize now my anger was way off base. I don’t like going to those boring conferences, anyway. I was jealous because I don’t want Linda to take my place in your life.”
“Nobody could ever take your place, girl. You know that, come on. We’ve been friends for over twenty years…” Lily stopped and gasped at the realization. Or was it real? She was having trouble discerning reality from her dreams.
“What’s wrong, Lily?” Nan asked, looking alarmed.
“I can’t tell what’s real anymore.” Lily began to sob. She felt like she was in one big nightmare. Would it ever end?
The door opened and a technician came out. “Hi, my name’s Sue and I’ll be doing your test today.”
“Hi, I’m Nan and this is Lily. She’s my best friend, so take good care of her.”
“We will, don’t worry.” She pushed the wheelchair into the room and shut the door.”
“So what’s been going on?”
“I keep passing out. When I wake up, it’s like I’m in a different dream every time.”
“Interesting, tell me about it.” The tech said as she helped Lily up on the table.
The first one I can remember is about the bombs.”
“Bombs, really? What happened?”
“Some terrorists bombed Pembroke Acres, and every major city in the U.S. and they were threatening to bomb secondary cities if the government didn’t hand me over.”
The tech listened intently while she readied the patient. It was a fantastic story so far. “Okay, I have to go over in the booth now, but you can continue your story, just try to stay as still as possible.”
“Doesn’t it make a lot of noise, though?”
“Yes but I’ll be able to hear you.” She gave Lily a smile before pushing the button that moved her into the machine.
Lily panicked for a moment. She wasn’t exactly claustrophobic, but she didn’t like small spaces. She felt like she was suffocating and she talked herself through the first seconds of panic. “Breathe deep. Let it out. Stay calm.”
A voice came into the machine and said, “You sound very practical. I wish all my patients were as sensible as you.”
“It isn’t always easy. I hate small spaces.”
“I think everybody probably does. Maybe if you tell me more of your story, you’ll forget where you’re at.”
“I doubt it, but it might take my mind off of it for a minute. Where was I?”
“The terrorists were going to bomb the secondary cities if the government didn’t hand you over.”
“Oh yeah, anyway, there was this colonel in the dream, but he’s really the sheriff of Pembroke Acres and I’ve had a crush on him for a couple years now.”
The tech laughed. “Sounds interesting go on.”
“Well, he’d been shot, but my friend and I had to go to the Marine doctor to get the stuff to wake him up so he could help us, but it turns out the doctor was actually one of the bad guys.”
“Sounds fantastic, what happened?”
“The doctor gave us the medicine we needed and we went and woke him up. The colonel’s son went back to the doctor’s tent to get him to go with us, but the doctor pulled a gun on Percy and then I walked in. He was guiding us out of the tent when Wyatt Adam’s, the colonel, showed up. He had a gun trained on the doctor and told him to put his gun down, and he was going to, but then some man walked in, and he had a gun and told Wyatt to drop his gun, so he did.”
“It sounds like you watch too many movies.” The tech laughed.
“Yeah, apparently I do. Anyway, the colonel had been saying I was his fiancé, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. In the dream, I’d just met him the day before, but he kept saying we had known each other for ten years. It was very bazaar.”
“Maybe it was wishful thinking.”
“Now you sound like my friend, Nan.” Lily smiled because the tech was probably right, and so was Nan. She did like Wyatt Adams, no matter which version of him turned out to be real.
“So what happened next?”
“The bad guys were guiding us into the woods, but Nan, who was ‘Nanny’ in this dream, was following us, and a guy named Aaron Bates and Colonel Adams’ son showed up and rescued us. The next thing I knew, I was waking up on a church pew looking up at Wyatt Adams, who was a pastor in this dream.”
“Wow, that’s some weird stuff.”
“I know right? The noise is really loud in here now, I can barely concentrate, but talking is helping me stay focused on something besides the space.”
“Good, tell me more.”
“As I said, I woke up on a church pew. Apparently I was going to sing my version of ‘Amazing Grace’ but tripped and fell on my dress. The ‘pastor’ had just taken over at my church and he invited the whole congregation to his house so we could get to know him better. He had a basketball court, and I played basketball.”
The tech was giggling. “It sounds like you’re jumbling a whole lot of different thoughts, feelings and fantasies into these dreams.”
“I know and it’s weird, and scary. How much longer is it going to be?” There was a long silence, and the tech didn’t answer. “Hey, are you there?”
“What? Yes, yes I’m here.”
“What’s wrong, you sound funny.”
Another silence, and then, “It’s okay; I got distracted for a second.”
“I asked how much longer it was going to be.” Lily’s heart sped up. She knew the tech was keeping something from her.
“We’re done. Thanks for the story, it was very entertaining.”
“Yeah, but it’s confusing and scary.”
“I’m sorry, Lily. Maybe they can figure out what’s causing them and get it taken care of.” The tech said.
Lily detected hesitation in the woman’s previously open and friendly tone. She must’ve seen something on the MRI, but wasn’t allowed to tell.
“I hope so.” She sat up, scooted down and out of the machine and was sitting in the wheelchair when the tech came out of the booth.
“That was quick.”
“Yeah, I didn’t want to spend one more minute in there than I had to.”
“I don’t blame you.” The tech opened the door and wheeled her out into the hallway to the same spot she’d been in before.
Nan was sitting there, waiting patiently. She asked, “Did everything go okay?”
The tech was looking at Nan from behind Lily so she couldn’t see her face, but she saw Nan’s. There was alarm there, and fear.
Lily turned around and gazed up at the tech, “Did you see something on the MRI you’re not telling me?”
“I can’t tell you anything. The doctor has to read it.” There was a look of remorse on her face and Lily’s heart sped up again. She had seen something.
“It’s too bad the time went so fast, I was enjoying the dream.”
“It does sound like some B movie plot, doesn’t it?”
“You’re a writer, sugar. Your mind is supposed to be bazaar.” Nan said. She looked at the tech, “Do you know when the aid is coming to get us?”
“I called him before we came out so he should be here anytime.”
“You’re welcome. It was nice to meet you Lily.”
“It was nice to meet you, too.”
The aid came then and took them back to the ER. “How did it go?”
“I don’t know. The tech was acting funny after the test was over. I think she saw something and doesn’t want to tell me.”
“She can’t tell you what she thinks she sees. Doctors are trained to read them and they’re diagnosis will be a lot more trustworthy than a tech’s.
“That makes sense I guess.”
“It does.” He waved and left them in their room.
“She gave you a look, didn’t she?” Lily asked as soon as they were alone. Nan wouldn’t lie to her.
“Yes, but I don’t know what it means, sugar. Let’s just wait until the doctor comes and talks to us.”
“That’s what we have to do, anyway.” This was a nightmare; worse than any of her previous dreams, only this was real, wasn’t it?
They waited for a long time, made small-talk, and wondered where Willie and Wyatt were. Lily was so tired. She kept nodding off but fought it because she didn’t want to have another weird, disjointed dream she couldn’t explain.
Willie and Wyatt came into the room and she snapped to attention.
“Hey, how did it go?” Wyatt asked.
“Are you okay, sis?” Willie said.
“I don’t know how it went; the doctor hasn’t been in yet. I’m as okay as one can be who doesn’t know reality from dream.”
“Maybe you have a concussion.” Wyatt suggested.
“That wouldn’t cause hallucinations, would it?” Nan asked.
“I’m not sure. We need to wait and see what the doctor says.”
“Lily, do you want something to drink?” Wyatt asked, but when he looked down at her, she was out. “Is she asleep, or passed out?” He whispered.
“I don’t know.” Nan said, examining her best friend’s features worriedly.
“I can’t tell, either.” Willie said.
The doctor came in with a grim look on his face. “Who’s the next of kin?”
Willie said, “I am. I’m her brother.” Fear was written on his face. “Why?”
“Could we speak privately?”
“You can talk in front of these two, they’re like family.”
“I can’t divulge personal information.”
Willie walked out in the hallway and asked, “Okay, what did you need to say?”
“Your sister has a quarter-sized tumor in her brain. It’s causing her to pass out. Has she been hallucinating, too?”
“She’s been talking about all these weird, disjointed dreams she’s been having.”
“Yes, that’s perfectly understandable under the circumstances. I’ve scheduled her for emergency surgery first thing in the morning.”
“Is she gonna be okay?” Tears filled Willie’s eyes and came out in his words.
“I don’t know, son. I hope so. These things are always so delicate. From what I can see, it should go okay, but I don’t make promises. I let God take care of that.”
“Okay, thank you.” Willie walked back into his sister’s room and closed the door. He turned around slowly.
“What’s wrong with her?” Nan demanded.
There was a look of dread on her face and Willie didn’t prolong the agony. “She has a quarter-sized tumor on her brain.”
“Oh, no!” Nan broke down in heart-wrenching sobs over Lily. She didn’t wake up.
“Is she going to be okay?” Wyatt asked. He had a look of fear on his face as well, even though he’d tried to mask it. He’d had a crush on her so long it felt like she was a part of him.
“Let’s go to God in prayer.” Nan ordered. She folded her hands and bowed her head.