“I’m afraid it’s a tumor, Ms. Quinn,” Dr. Miranda Jacobs said as she held Chelsea’s limp hand. Tears welled in her patient’s sad, brown eyes. God, Miranda hated this part of her job. Saving lives was great and all, but it was the ones like this that made it hard to don her lab coat every day. And now, she had no choice but to look at that poor twenty-four year old woman in her dark-ringed eyes and given her news that had the potential to wreck her lift.
“Does that mean I’m going to die, doctor?” Chelsea’s voice was gravely and full of despair; heartbreaking at best, devastating at worst.
Every instinct in Dr. Jacob’s body said, “Be a human being, Miranda! Comfort the girl!” Would that make her any less professional? Would she become attached despite the very possible dire outcome of what she’d seen in the MRI?
“I…” the doctor swallowed the hard lump of angst building in her throat. “We….”
A good surgeon never got close enough to their patients to cradle them during the storm. A good surgeon never cried or showed any sort of emotion within the walls of the hospital. A good surgeon didn’t coddle, but rather informed.
Yeah, well screw that! Dr. Jacobs, the professional persona, needed to take a hike for a moment and let Miranda take control. She reached out and brushed a tendril of Chelsea’s brown, sweat-moistened hair back from her face. Brows creasing, it took everything she had not to shed a few tears of her own, and just as the good doctor started with a second attempt at intelligible speech, she heard a commotion coming from the halls.
“Let go of me, asshole!” a woman screamed. High-heeled shoes scrapped and stomped at the linoleum. “You can’t legally keep me away from her!” The crass sound of her Jersey accent made Miranda cringe.
“She’s with the doctor,” a deep, rich, manly voice retaliated. “You’re not family. You can’t go in there yet!”
The door flung open, smacking the wall with a loud slam. Miranda’s head whipped back, eyes landing hard on her best nurse man-handling a woman half his size. She looked like she’d just climbed out of a bad porno movie. The denim skirt hiked up her long legs barely left anything to the imagination and the tank top had been split open to show off a little more cleavage. Her wild, blond hair had been tied up in a ponytail at the crown of her head.
Miranda tried not to stare, but this woman looked like a disaster waiting to happen, and Daniel hadn’t let go of her waist.
“Baby, you okay? I came as fast as I could,” the woman wildly pulling away from the nurse’s arms said to Dr. Jacob’s patient. It all seemed to happen in slow motion, all the way down to her stabbing a four inch heel into the nurse’s shoe. “Let go of me! Can’t you see she wants me here?”
Daniel yelled out a string of curses as he let the woman go. Miranda pressed her hand to the air, waving him off. “What, may I ask, is going on?” Dr. Jacob’s arms crossed over her chest as she stood from the edge of the bed.
“I tried to stop her,” Daniel began. His hand white-knuckled the wall as his face turned seven shades of red. “But she claims to be Ms. Quinn’s girlfriend. I told her girlfriends weren’t considered immediate family.”
“And I told him to fuck off!”
“Kitty,” Chelsea’s soft voice called from the bed and everything stopped; all sound and movement. She winced as she tried to raise her body from the pillows. “Dr. Jacobs, can she please stay? I… I need her right now.”
Miranda looked back at the nurse and nodded.
Kitty ran to the bed without hesitation. She wrapped her fingers around Chelsea’s hand and lifted it to her lips, pressing kisses against the knuckles. “I came as soon as I heard,” she said. “Your mom called me and said you passed out at work. What happened?”
“I don’t know,” Chelsea said softly. “I’ve been having a headache for a while, you know?” Kitty nodded. “Yesterday it was bad and I thought about going home early, but I had so much paperwork to finish. It was around four o’clock in the afternoon. I thought I would be okay, then I stood from my desk and collapsed. When I woke up, I was in the hospital. I’m sorry I didn’t call you, but I knew you would be getting ready to go to work.”
“It’s okay, baby,” Kitty offered. “I told them you were in the hospital so they let me leave. Another waitress is covering my shift.” She kissed Chelsea’s hand again, brushed the tiny brown curls back from her partner’s face. “So, what are they saying?”
Chelsea’s puffy, red eyes shifted back toward Dr. Jacobs. They were full of angst and sadness, full of complete despair and fear.
The weight of her unsure gaze made Miranda’s heart heavy. Why this one bothered her so much was a mystery. Miranda had been good at distancing herself, until Chelsea Quinn entered her life. She took a deep breath, swallowed back her insecurities and donned her professional face before speaking again.
“In your MRI, we found a small mass in the right cerebral hemisphere. Now, that’s not saying it’s cancer,” Dr. Jacobs said, holding her hand up before Chelsea had a chance to break down. “We won’t know unless we do a biopsy, but Ms. Quinn, regardless, we need to get the tumor out of there before it causes more problems.”
“Can it kill me?”
Miranda took a deep breath and let it go slowly. She looked her patient in her dark, pleading eyes. “Honestly, if left untreated, yes, it could kill you.”
Kitty kissed Chelsea’s hand again. Tears glistened in the girl’s disarming blue eyes. Chelsea couldn’t look at her girlfriend. If she did, what little hope she was clinging to would crumble to dust. So instead, she kept her eyes locked on the pillar of knowledge and neutrality. She said to Dr. Jacobs, “The get it out of my head, because I’m not ready to die.”
Unpublished Work ©2012 ~ Allison Casssatta