Some pics to start the day
Chapter Twenty ~
Lily swallowed and gagged. Why was her mouth so dry? Her head was pounding, too. She opened her eyes and looked around. Where was she? The room didn’t look familiar. She should call…who? She couldn’t think of anybody she knew. She whimpered and tried to concentrate on thinking of her name. She was…Who was she? Tears of fear and frustration flowed down her pale cheeks. Something was wrong.
A nurse came in just then and began taking her vitals. “I see you’re awake, and your fever is gone.” She pushed the used thermometer cover into the garbage and smiled. “You gave us quite a scare earlier today.”
“What did I do, and why am I in the hospital?”
“You had surgery to remove a tumor, and then you had a seizure. Your friends and your brother were here, but when you got sick we sent them home for the night. They’ll be back in the morning.”
“I have a brother?”
The nurse’s head jerked toward Lily in alarm. “Yes, and a boyfriend, and a friend.”
“I can’t remember.”
“Give it a few minutes, the memories will probably return.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m pretty sure.” The nurse smiled at her and rushed from the room.
Lily lay in bed, trying to remember something, anything, but her mind continued to be blank. She stared at the light thinking, ‘Who am I?’ The light began to blur and she slipped into an uneasy slumber.
Nan was in her apartment, snacking on some popcorn and trying to watch a movie, but her mind kept drifting. Life had a way of changing so quickly. She’d never dreamed her best friend would get a brain tumor and almost die.
She remembered a few months after their first encounter in the bathroom. Nan had begun to notice a guy named Sam Slatter, but was too scared to talk to him…
“Just go talk to him, Nan; he isn’t going to bite you.”
“I know, but what if he laughs?
“He isn’t going to laugh. You’ve changed, and everybody’s noticed. I’ve seen him staring at you, and I think he likes you, too.”
“Do you really think so?”
“I do. Just say hi.”
“Will you walk over there with me? I’m worried what his friends will say.”
“They’ve been looking at you, too, girl. I know you don’t believe this, but you’re beautiful. People are noticing, now that you aren’t walking around looking like a volcano about to erupt.”
“Is that what I really looked like?”
“Yes, and I was determined I wouldn’t let you continue that way. You have way too much to offer.”
“Thanks for not giving up on me.” Tears had come to her eyes but she’d resisted the urge to let them fall. She was going to say hi to the cutest guy in school. She walked over to where a few of the football team members were eating lunch.
“Hi Sam, how are you?”
He’d looked up at her as if a bomb exploded, and she’d taken it as a sign he didn’t want to talk to her, and she’d turned and started to walk away.
“Hey Nan, don’t go. I was surprised you spoke to me.”
“You’re the prettiest girl in school. I didn’t think you’d noticed me.”
“I have.” She walked toward him. “Do you want to eat lunch with me and Lily?”
“How about we eat at our own table, for today only?”
She’d looked over at Lily, and she was shaking her head. She looked back at Sam and said, “Okay that sounds good.”
They’d stood in line together, making small talk until their trays were filled. They found an empty table and sat down. Sam cleared his throat awkwardly and said, “Have…” His voice broke, he cleared it again and started over; “Are you going to the dance this Friday?”
“Yeah, Lily and I are going.”
Nan’s heart was pounding against her chest like a convict wanting out of jail. “Why?”
“I just wondered.”
“You wondered for a reason.” She figured he’d been about to ask her out and she didn’t want to miss the opportunity.
“Would you mind if I tagged along?” His face was ghost-white and Nan laughed.
“Are you asking me out, Sam Slatter?”
“I think so, yes.”
“I’ll go with you.” She tried to keep the excitement out of her voice so he wouldn’t know she’d been holding her breath while waiting for his answer.
The doorbell brought her out of her reverie, if that’s what it had been. She felt like she’d been asleep so she glanced at the clock on the mantel. It was 9:35. Who would be at her door this late at night?
She bent down to look in the peephole and gasped. It was Willie. “Hey Willie, what’re you doing here this time of night?” She asked as she pulled the chain off and turned the lock on the knob and the deadbolt.
“I couldn’t sleep. Could I come in for a few minutes?”
“I guess, but don’t be trying anything.”
He laughed. “You’re crazy, woman, I’m not going to try anything on you.”
They went to the living room, she setting down on the dark brown sofa and he in the matching chair.
“I’m worried about Lily, too.”
“I’m worried about Lily, but to be honest, that’s not what kept me awake.”
“What did then?”
“I kept thinking about what Wyatt said today, about not knowing if he was saved, or not.”
“Oh. He’s got some soul-searching to do, that’s for sure.”
“I may not be saved, either.”
“Why do you think that?”
“It was easy for me to tell him to go read first John. It’s always easier to see other people’s faults before your own. Anyway, I went home and read it myself, and I don’t think I’m right with God.”
“What makes you think that?”
“I don’t yearn after God the way I used to, and I don’t enjoy going to church as much. I’ve skipped the last few fellowships to stay home and watch TV.”
“Those things don’t necessarily mean you aren’t saved. Maybe you’re just falling into sinful patterns.”
“I don’t pray like I used to, either. This whole thing with Lily has made me think, you know? It makes me think more seriously about where I’m at. I mean, I think Lily’s good. I’m pretty sure she’s right with God, she lives for him. But I’m not so sure about me.”
He looked miserable and Nan had to quell the urge to hug him. She shouldn’t touch him like that because they weren’t married, and even if it was just a hug, it would be inappropriate because they were alone. That’s when things could get out of hand between two people of the opposite sex. “I can’t tell you anything definitively, Willie, you know that. You have to examine yourself, and pray. What I can say is the fact you’re questioning your salvation could be an indication you are saved.”
“I never thought of that.”
“Sometimes it takes somebody looking from the outside to see what’s right in front of your face.”
“You’re right. That’s like Lily seeing we liked each other, even though we both tried to deny it.”
“Yes, but let’s not talk about that in my apartment, alone.”
“You have a point.”
“I know, right?”
He looked up at the TV, which she’d automatically paused when the doorbell rang, even though she hadn’t been watching it. “What were you watching?”
“It’s that new Christian movie about abortion.”
“I wanted to see that.”
“I did, too, but I think I fell asleep.”
“You think you fell asleep?”
“I was remembering something from mine and Lily’s past, and I was half-asleep and half-awake. I could still hear the noise of the TV but I wasn’t paying attention to it. Have you ever done that?”
“I do it all the time.” He laughed. “I try to watch football every year because supposedly, ‘it’s the man-thing to do.’ But I fall asleep every time. I can’t make sense out of the reason grown men want to go around tackling each other, causing pain and injury.”
“It’s a good thing you don’t like football, sugar, because I hate it. It brings back bad memories of my dad sitting on the couch, drinking beer and swearing in a loud voice at the TV. Even when I was really little, about seven, maybe, I told him the TV couldn’t hear him yelling at it. He smacked me and told me to get him a beer.”
“I’m sorry he did that, Nan.”
“I am, too. I can remember before that, just barely, before the beer took over. He was a good dad. He would take me to the park every day after work; rain, snow or shine, and we’d play for thirty minutes. It was the highlight of my life. My mom was always at work. She couldn’t take thirty minutes to play with me. I felt like a burden to her right up until she died.”
“I don’t think you were, Nan. I think she was just bogged down with the responsibility of trying to take care of you and the household while you’re father drank away his paycheck. That can be hard on a person.”
“It sounds like you thought about it a lot.” Nan was surprised.
“”I did, all through school. I haven’t forgotten how you were when Lily decided to be your friend. You were this beautiful, quiet, but threatening Amazon who everybody was afraid of, except maybe Lily and I. It was obvious; to me and my sister at least, you were a hurt, lonely girl who needed someone to love her.”
Tears flooded Nan’s eyes and she tried to hold them at bay. “I love your sister, Willie, and I think I love you, too, now go home.”
Willie gave her a look of understanding, gently caressed her cheek, said, “I know I love you Nan,” and walked out the door.
Nan didn’t know it had been a mutual agreement between Willie and Lily to befriend the tall, beautiful girl at their school that year. Willie had loved her even then. This time was bittersweet for him because his sister was fighting for her life, but Nan had finally noticed him and he could barely contain the whoop of joy bubbling just near the surface. He practically skipped down the hallway, remembering the initial pow-wow they’d had about Nan:
“Hey Willie, are you busy?”
“Nah, not really, what do you need?”
“I want to talk to you about something, but I can’t say it to the parents, ya know?”
“Sure, come on in.” He’d shoved a load of laundry off into the floor and patted the bed beside his desk.
“It’s about that tall black girl at school.”
He’d known immediately who she was talking about. He was attracted to her, but afraid to approach her. She was about six inches taller than him at the time. “You mean Nan Masters?” He’d tried to hide his excitement from Lily, but she’d caught right on by his tone of voice.
“You like her, don’t you?”
“I do.” His admission had been rueful. The whole school would’ve laughed at him because she was way taller than him.
“Why haven’t you told me about it?”
“She’s way taller than me, Lily. People would laugh.”
“Since when do you care what people think? You drive a Volkswagen Bug, for crying out loud.”
He’d laughed light-heartedly then. She was right; he didn’t normally care what others thought about him, so why worry about this? “Your point is taken.”
She laughed. It was that carefree, tinkling laugh he loved so much. It was a part of his life and breath. “I’m going to befriend her.”
He’d gasped. “You’re kidding, right? She’ll eat you for breakfast.”
“I don’t think she’s mean, Willie. I think that’s a cover for how vulnerable she really is. That’s what people do when they’re hurt, they build walls.”
“She does drugs, Lily. Mom and dad won’t approve.”
“I know. That’s why I came to you. I want to know what you think. Is it the right thing to do, or should I just leave her alone?”
“What is your reason for befriending her?”
“She needs someone to love, and someone to confide in.”
“How do you know this? Am I to call you Dr. Lily now?”
She’d burst into that tinkling laughter then, and he almost burst into tears at the memory. He loved her so much.
He had to see her. He turned his car around and headed toward the hospital. They could call security if they wanted to; he had to see his sister.
Butterflies swirled in his stomach as he snuck up the back stairs of the hospital. Lily was in ICU and if he got caught, they very may well throw him out, but he had to try. He missed that sweet smile and her beautiful gray eyes. He missed the way she’d twist a pencil in her hair to hold it up out of her face. She was a part of him, and the last day had stretched into what seemed like a week in his mind. He stepped in front of the door at the top of the third floor landing, took a deep breath, and quietly opened the door. He prayed there wouldn’t be an alarm on it. It opened quietly and he moved through it, crouching, as if that would make him invisible as he moved down the hallway to her room. He walked through the door and was pleasantly surprised when he saw Lily sitting up, eating a snack of red Jell-O and whipped cream.
“Lily, I’m so glad you’re awake!”
He rushed over to pull her into a hug but was stopped by the cold chill of her words:
“Who are you, and why are you in my room?”
His face must show the amazement he felt. “You don’t know who I am?”
“You should, Lily. I’m your twin.”
She began screaming. It was so loud, it vibrated inside his head. He stumbled backward, trying to get away from that awful noise, and tripped on the foot of her bed. He flailed backward and was caught by a big, burly security guard. “You’re not supposed to be up here.”
“She doesn’t know who I am.” He said to the doctor who rushed through the door. It was Dr. Wilkes.
“She’s had a memory lapse due to the surgery, William, I’m sorry.”
“Will she ever get it back?” He asked as the guard tried to pull him out the door. He grabbed the door-facing and held on tight, desperate for an answer.
“I don’t know, son. It’s too early to tell.”
Willie let the guard propel him out the door and down the hallway. He shoved him pretty gently through the door and said, “I’m sorry about your sister, but you need to go.”
“How can I leave her like that?”
“She doesn’t remember who you are, anyway.”