Monday, August 11, 2008

FORTY-SEVEN

I pulled Sid's feet onto my lap and adjusted the ice packs around his right ankle.

"How does it feel?" I asked.

He shrugged noncommittally in reply. I sighed and turned on FSN to watch the game—it had been nearly a week since Sid had been injured, but his ankle had only gotten worse because he insisted on being at every practice and game. The trainer had forbidden traveling with the team after we returned from Montreal, so we were stuck at home on the couch while the team went to Philadelphia.

"I know you're mad you can't be with the team," I said gently, "but it's better that you stay home and rest. Do you want to be like Marc? He's been out for seven weeks and he's no where close to being able to play."

Sid ignored me and clenched his jaw. I closed my eyes and rested my head against the back of the couch. Sid had been in a horrible mood all week, and he was starting to take his frustrations out on me. I knew he was mad at himself, and I shouldn't take it personally, but his cold and distant behavior was getting to be too much for me to handle.

"Why haven't you quit yet?" Sid asked abruptly.

My eyes snapped open and I inhaled sharply. I had been coming up with excuse after excuse as to why I hadn't called Christopher and told him I wouldn't be going to Paris. Until now, I thought Sid had bought them. "He wasn't in when I called yesterday," I lied. Really, when he had picked up the phone I immediately hung up. I wasn't sure why I was so hesitant to quit—maybe it was a combination of uncertainty and fear. My parents' warnings kept flashing through my mind…would I regret never going to Paris? I was also afraid of telling Christopher. I had never been a quitter, and although in this case backing out was justifiable, I was still concerned about how I would feel after I handed in my resignation.

"So leave him a fucking message," Sid growled. I flinched at the angry edge to his voice. "Are you having second thoughts?" He twisted his body so he could look me in the eye.

"No, of course not," I replied, hoping he didn't hear the doubt in my voice.

"So call him now." Although it was only a suggestion, it sounded more like a challenge.

"But it's kind of late…"

"You have his cell number."

I took a deep breath and retrieved my cell phone from my pocket. I knew Sid wasn't going to let me off the hook.

The phone rang three times before Christopher answered. "Christopher Fox speaking."

"Hi, Christopher, this is Karine Lemieux."

"Karine! How are you?" He sounded happy, albeit a little surprised, to be receiving a phone call from me. "Is everything okay?"

"Yeah, everything's fine. It's just, uh…I won't be able to accept the promotion you offered me in December."

He was silent for a few long seconds. "I see," he replied tersely. "Could I ask what made you change your mind?"

"Personal reasons, really," I replied as I rubbed Sid's calf. "Some things in my life have changed, and I won't be able to move to Paris. I need to stay in Pittsburgh."

"Hmm. It's a shame Karine, it really is. PPG is going to miss you."

"I'm sorry, Christopher. Please understand that I loved working for PPG. I would gladly continue working for the company as long as I could stay in Pittsburgh. But relocating to Paris is out of the question right now."

"Unfortunately, that's the only way you can stay with the company." He exhaled and paused. "You've put us in a bad situation, Karine. You were the only person we had in mind for the position in Paris…now we have to start the job search all over again."

"I'm really sorry," I repeated.

"Yes, well, best of luck in the future. If you change your mind, I'm only a phone call away."

"Thank you, Christopher." I snapped my phone shut and exhaled slowly.

"See? That wasn't so hard." Sid's mood had suddenly improved…he was happy I'd finally quit.

"Not at all," I lied. I felt strangely empty, like I had just ended a relationship. Had I made the right decision? I studied Sid's face—he looked like he was in physical pain as he watched his team take to the ice without him. I sighed. I couldn't imagine my life without him…I would just have to trust that not accepting the promotion was the right thing to do.

***

The next day, I drove Sid to the arena so he could meet with the trainer. Usually I stuck around and watched practice, but I decided to use the hour or so to visit Connor. I hadn't seen him in almost three days.

His appearance had changed drastically since we had first met. He was even thinner and his complexion was so pale it was almost transparent. He was far less energetic, too. Something as simple as sitting up in bed was a chore.

"Hey, Connor," I greeted him as I entered his room. I gave his mother and father a hug—they had both been with Connor everyday this week, which made me think his condition was worse than everyone was letting on.

"Hi, Karine," he replied with a smile. "How's Sid doing?"

"He'd be doing a lot better if he would listen to me and rest once in a while," I replied.

Connor shook his head. "He's so stubborn."

"You're telling me," I muttered. "But how about you? How are you feeling?"

"I feel alright," Connor replied. "I'm just tried all the time. Stupid chemo. And I'm sick of being stuck in bed all day…it's hard to keep myself entertained. I've resorted to watching soap operas. Days of Our Lives is getting pretty juicy. Chloe's evil twin Carla just came back into town and she's trying to steal Chloe's fiancĂ©, who is actually having an affair with Amanda. Pretty exciting stuff."

I chuckled. "You should have told me to bring you some movies."

"I don't—" Connor was interrupted by an intense coughing fit. "Sorry," he gasped between coughs. I looked at his parents sympathetically. His mother was stroking his cold, frail hand, and his father was pouring a fresh cup of water.

"Here, bud, drink some." He held the cup to Connor's lips and he managed to stop coughing enough to take a drink. When Connor rested his head on the pillow again, I noticed spots of blood on the tissue he was holding.

My eyes flew to Connor's mother. She closed her eyes and exhaled quietly, looking extremely pained but unsurprised.

"Could I talk to you outside, Mrs. Fisk?" I tried to keep my voice calm, but I'm sure Connor and his parents could tell I was upset.

"Sure," she replied quietly.

I closed Connor's door as we stepped out into the hallway. "How long has he been coughing up blood?"

Her expression was blank as she answered. "For about two days." I noticed under the harsh fluorescent lights how haggard she looked. My heart went out to his family…this had to be nearly unbearable for them.

"What's happening?" I asked, my voice almost a whisper.

"He has blood clots in his legs. They can't give him blood thinners because of the chemo…they're moving into his lungs."

"How long?"

Connor's mother averted her eyes to the floor. "Two weeks at the most."

I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. Two weeks. Connor only had two weeks to live.

"What can I do for him?" I asked frantically.

"Karine…there's nothing you can do. He's dying."

"There has to be something he needs. Something he wants. Just tell me what it is. I'll do anything for him."

"He really likes you and Sid. Just try to come around as much as you can, okay? He…he just wants us all here." A few tears began to fall down her cheeks.

I pulled her into a hug and cried with her.

10 comments:

giveupon-me said...

it does not help that my best friend is leaving for nc in 4 days and i'm listening to 'hear you me.' i almost started crying.

ValFilppulaLover51 said...

your story rocks! update again soon please! =]

Anonymous said...

I love ur story!
but can u make Connor a miracle child, and make him survive.

Anyways update again soon!

Kimmy said...

Aww that chapter was sad :(
I hope Connor could be ok.

Update again soon!!

Lauren said...

Sad, but good...can't wait for more!

anika875 said...

i have gotten so into your story that i forgot connor is a fictional character! love the story! and i agree with anonymous... make it a miracle story!

Tay Tay said...

I am crying! Please put Connor into the story more often, it's killing me to know what happens next! Love the story, please update soon! :)

Aeryn said...

You almost have me in tears. I love it though, can't wait for more!

KylieD32 said...

Ok, if you could save Connor, that would be great. I don't think I'll be able to keep from crying if you don't, especially because it will kill Sid.

Anonymous said...

awwwhh.
that chapter was soo good/sad.
update again soon, please.