Authors: Franny Marie
Copyright May 2015 Frances Marie Bowens
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under the international and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author/publisher, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Editing by: Hearts on Fire Editing
Cover Deigned by: Jay Aheer
Image Copyright: © dpaint
Image Number: 41106563
Kindle Edition License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Amazon.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Table of Contents
I'm not even twenty yet and I'm losing my mom to a five-year battle with Terminal Brain Cancer.
What a fucking way to start summer.
Seriously, with all the technology, wouldn't a cure for Cancer have been discovered by now? Or does the damn government just want to kill us off one by one?
I sigh as I set a plastic cup of cold water next to her bedside. Fear and worry rise up inside me. I hate to see her suffer like this. She sleeps soundly, and I watch her, the seconds ticking by in my head. My thoughts drift back to all the things she gave up to make sure my sister and I were okay.
The hospital room I'm in is cold, but they need to have the A.C on to keep the germs away, which seems pointless to me. In my opinion, I think people get worse than they already were before they entered the facility. Yes, I know it's a horrible thought.
The room is also small, the walls painted an off white or close to a light beige. Can't really tell the difference. The floor is a smooth sheet vinyl, the shade of gray reflecting off the fluorescent lighting, beaming down making it seem like it’s shiny and new. On the far right of the room sits the grayish-blue ceramic counter-top and a deep, silver sink right in the middle of it. On the counter top sits a box of latex-free gloves and a bottle of lavender antibacterial hand soap. Above it, is a matching cabinet filled with God knows what.
The sounds of the heart machine is beeping softly in the background and the TV in the corner of the room, bolted to the ceiling, is on mute. On the gray chair next to the window, my baby sister, Leanne, is sleeping peacefully with one arm laying across her stomach and her legs curled up in her seat. I love them both to death, I don't know what my life would be like without them. I guess none of that matters ‘cause I'd probably be in the same gang I'm in now or worse...Dead. My mom knows all about it, but has kept quiet. I know she doesn't like it, but I wonder if she ever cried at night or worried about me every time I left the house. Leanne probably has a clue on it. Even though I try hard not to expose her to my shitty lifestyle.
I lean back in the squeaky black metal chair I've been sitting in for hours, running my hands up and down my face, trying to wipe away any tears wanting to come down. I sigh and shut my eyes briefly and all I can visualize is my sorry punk ass excuse for a dad leaving my mom with another girl under his arms. I only remember it ‘cause I had never seen my mom so hurt before, even though I was only five years old. Yes, I was a kid then, but damn. I could feel her pain. I swear to God if I see his ass now I'll shoot him point blank in the fucking face. But my mom made it by, worked two jobs and was able to afford a nice little house for us to live in. I earned my keep by making money off selling pounds and pounds of drugs, knowing she hated it but went and did it anyway ‘cause we desperately needed the money.
“Collin, baby?” My eyes open up to my mom’s weak voice and I turn to face her and her blue eyes gloss over as they meet mine. Her dark hair is thinning away and what use to be her fair skin is now pale and showing a few wrinkles.
“I'm here, mama,” I assure her, taking her hand in mine.
“Where's Leanne?” her voice cracking slightly as she questions me.
“She's sleeping,” I reply in my softest voice and a small grin across my face.
“Okay, good. I need to talk to you about something.” She clears her throat and shifts to a more comfortable position.
“Sure, anything.” I am eager to listen and know what’s on her mind.
“I need you to promise me th- that you will take good care of Leanne for me, please,” her voice soft and sincere.
“Of course, mama. You know I will. I promise,” I reply matter-of-factly, my hands on top of hers.
She smirks and gives a slight smile before continuing.
“I know, baby. Just making sure. Also... Collin, I need you to please get out of that gang you're in; please change your life for the better. Leanne is going to need you more than ever now, baby. Get a job, go to school, anything but being in that gang.” Her voice is serious and low, her eyes glossing over me once more as it appears she’s going to cry.
As I rub my hands against hers, I can feel her slipping away from me. Her skin feels cold. Hate and regret start to rise up inside me and I don't know why, but can't help it. I lean my head down onto her shoulder as I'm rubbing her arms up and down, completely speechless. The only way for me to get out of the I-Ten gang, is if I head to the grave first. If that happens, who’s going to take care of Leanne? Our dad sure as hell won't. I want to say this to my mom, but I don't need her to be stressed in her last hours.
I sigh softly before answering.
“Okay, mama. I promise I'll get out of it and stay out,” I convince her along with
to convince myself. I know that it’s a hopeless cause though.
“Good.” She smiles and puckers her lips out as I lean in for a kiss on my cheek, also returning one on her forehead. When I sit back down she gazes up at me, her smile still across her face. I love seeing her happy.
A couple of hours go by and Leanne finally wakes up. She stretches in her chair and runs her hands through her long, jet black hair, her tired blue eyes becoming alert and glowing in the florescent lighting, then she stands up, fixing her gray sweatshirt neatly over her pink pajama bottoms. I never realized how tan she gets and it's barely summer. Her prefect round face is now looking exhausted.
“Hey, sleepy head, you hungry?” I smirk as she smiles at me.
“Yes, but not for that horrible cafeteria food.” She rolls her eyes and crosses her arms on her chest. I shake my head and chuckle softly.
“What are you hungry for then?” I ask, already knowing her answer is going to be pancakes. It’s always pancakes.
“Ummmm.” She puts her finger to her chin, tapping it gently and looking up to the corner before giving me an answer. “Pancakes!” she says delighted. “How's mom?” she asks as she heads over to the other side of the bed, changing the subject quickly.
“I knew you were going to say that,” I smirk. “But pancakes it is, and she's resting. She was awake earlier, but the nurse came in to give her morphine to ease her pain and she dozed off.” I keep my eyes on mom as I reply, but then I look at Leanne. The change in Leanne's face went from happy to worry in an instant as I'm telling her this and she touches our mom's cheek gently with the back of her hand.
Seconds later, there is a knock at the door and Nurse Lisa walks in with a plate of food for my mom. Her shoulder length, brown hair falls neatly across her shoulders and neck and her deep, brown eyes twinkle in the florescent lighting just like my mom’s do at times. She is in her black with blue polka dot scrubs and white tennis shoes and for a moment, I smile. I watch her put the food down on the table between me and my mom, I know she won't eat it. She really hasn't been eating at all in the last few days, but she is drinking water every now and then. She's trying so hard to hold on, I can't help but wonder what she is waiting for? I'm scared to lose her, but Leanne and I have been preparing for this day for awhile now.
“So I'm going to go ahead and set this here. If she wants to have a bite or two that would be great,” Lisa says softly with a smile, her all white teeth showing just a bit.
“I hope so. I'm going to take my sister out to get something to eat, but we'll be back later on,” I reply with a slight smile, trying to seem hopeful. I take a glance at Leanne and she is watching mom and rubbing her head gently.
“Of course, that's fine. I'll call you if anything changes.” Lisa puts a bendy straw in the small carton of milk
“Thank you. Come on, Leanne.”
That night when Leanne and I head back to the hospital, we walk back into our mom’s room and see that she is still sleeping while Nurse Lisa is standing at her bedside taking her vitals.
“It's almost time. You can talk to her and maybe she'll respond,” she says as she walks out of the room.
I nod as Leanne and I walk over to her. I'm standing on one side and Leanne is on the other side of her as we were before. We both grab gently of our mom's cold, brittle hands. As we do, she begins to open her eyes slowly. She turns her head towards Leanne and Leanne leans down to leave her a kiss on the forehead as the tears start to stream down her face. She's hurt just as much as I am, but I hide it to try to be strong for her. I keep telling myself that we knew this day was coming, but now that it's actually here, I wish it never happened. The day came too fast.
“Hey mama,” I whisper, trying to hide the tears in my eyes. It’s a struggle.
“My baby.” She smiles as her eyes glaze over me and the tears start to well up and fall down her cheeks.
“We love you, mom.”
“I know, baby.” She smiles as she tries to hide the pain I’m sure she’s feeling.
Her face falls and her breathing becomes staggered. “I wanted to tell you... Th- there's a check of my life savings. I- I wrote it about a week ago.... and I need you to use it to take care of Leanne and yourself, okay?” Her voice is soft and cracking and every now and then she stops to catch her breath, almost as if she can never get enough oxygen. It was probably true, but it only made me feel worse.
“Of course, mama,” I reassure her, giving her hand a slight squeeze.
“And Collin, I- I have a house that's been paid off… for you two to stay in. M- my lawyer will let you know more about it and tell you where it is,” she continues to speak, even though I know it hurts. It is her final goodbye, something we will never have a chance to do again.
“Okay, mama. We're going to be okay. You have nothing to worry about.”
“I know, I know. Remember what I said earlier, Collin. I.... Love.... You both so- so very much,” she says quietly as her eyes close, her chest rising and falling as she takes her last breath. It doesn’t rise again and the heart machine beeps to a steady flat-line.
Leanne looks over to me and breaks down into tears while falling to her knees. I run over to her aid and comfort her in my arms, but the sound of her crying nearly breaks my heart. Her cries are a heart aching, painful sound, so I hold her even tighter in my arms as I guide her over to the gray chair for her to take a seat.
Late that evening, Leanne and I walk out of the room and into the elevator. Inside, the walls are a blueish gray and you can see a blurred version of our reflection when the doors close. Leanne's grip on my hand grows tighter at every sniffle she takes as she's been holding it since we watched our mom being wheeled out of her room. I look down on her and she is wiping her tears away with the sleeve of her sweater.
“You okay?” I ask her, tucking a loose piece of hair behind her ear.
“Yeah. I'm fine. I just.... It's just that mom is gone,” her voice is tight.
“I know, baby. We're going to be okay, I'm a take good care of you. Nothing's going to ever happen to you, I promise that,” I say to her in a serious tone. She looks up at me, her blue eyes bright, and a smile forms across her pretty little face as she wraps her arms around me.
The elevator doors open as we have finally reached the ground floor and we walk out the hospital doors to face the night sky. The air feels crisp, warm, and a slight breeze moves the leaves on the trees back and forth, the leaves on the ground skitter across the pavement.
“Hey, when we get home I want you to get cleaned up for bed and maybe we can watch a movie or something?” I suggest.
“Okay, sounds nice.” Leanne smiles sweetly, but I feel like she’s breaking down on the inside, trying to be strong for me.
As we walk out to the parking lot, a black SUV with loud music playing pulls up beside us, stopping us in our tracks.
“And where are you headed off to?” a voice in the car says.
“I have to take my sister home, Kristen,” I reply sternly.
“Well, when you take Miss Little Leanne here home, you got shit to do tonight.” she says as her and the rest of the I-Ten gang step out of the car. “Or did you forget?” she says, her long blonde hair flowing down her back placing her hands on her hips.
“Collin, who are those people?” Leanne asks, her grip on my hand tighter than before. I take a step in front of her to shield her from whatever may happen. I bite my bottom lip as I think back to what I told my mom. I'm just going to have to take this risk in getting out of this gang for good.
“Are you going to answer me or just stand there like a bitch?” Kristen says with her arms folded across her chest. I can tell her patience is wearing thin.