"John, I look like a rebellious punk rocker and a doctor had a baby."  Jo strides into the room, rocking the teal scrubs like only she can. After she finishes signing, she cements her hand back onto her waist and glares at me. The half part of her head that's bald reflects the fluorescents.

I'm sitting on the strange vomit couch with the red plaid because there's really nowhere else to flop on. Her black shoes are beaten to a pulp, sliding around on the flecked hospital tiling. There are blotches that could very easily be blood in the left corner, but we don't talk about That Spot.  There are new ones since Josephine came.


"You look fine, Jo." I just stick my hands above my head so she can see over the couch. I don't really care if she can understand me or not; she hasn't stopped complaining about everything they require of us here. I turn back to one of the generic and yellowed chapter books that they supply us with before she can respond.  


She thumps the back of my head hard enough that I turn back to look at her again. She's been out of surgery for two weeks now, and she's even crazier than before. If that's possible. "John. Help me."

That's when she tosses the most obnoxious, glossy, magazine I've ever seen, with a boy band pasted there. Right on the front. Disgusting. "I refuse to do anything with that...that." I flick it off my lap and she kicks my leg this time as she walks around the couch, clutching a plastic box of cheap school supplies. No scissors. Thank goodness.

She plunks down with her entire thigh touching mine and I pretend to act like I didn't even notice. I stink at acting. That's when Bobby Pins stands up from the upside down card game and screams--literally screams--bloody murder.

"Those children are touching! There is sin!" His sentence slowly dissolves into a low hiss that continues.   

Jo looks back and forth awkwardly, shrugs, and scootches a centimeter away from me. Bobby Pins shakes his crooked finger at her and screams more about sin. She shuffles over twice more, and he makes a gruff sound of agreement.

As soon as he stalks away, his balled into fists at his sides, Jo tilts her head back and laughs that silent and haunting laugh that's so loud only a mute can do it. After that, she sits smack on my lap just because she can and I have to awkwardly dump her off.

She touches my cheek and grins. "You're adorable when you blush."

I scowl at her and turn away. This is one of the many times where I wish we could use verbal speech to actually talk. I turn over to look at her, and she's still shaking with silent laughter. "You're an idiot."


"You know I'm amazing." She taps my nose and I stick my tongue out at her.

"Sure. So what's with the magazine?"

She grins and flips through it. "I had to literally wrestle this away from the nurses. So I had this idea about tearing out pictures of hair and gluing them to my skull." She stops signing and looks up at me, her face dead serious.

"Dear, you can't just glue magazine pages to your head right after you had surgery" I end up sitting on the trashy thing, in hopes that she won't actually go for it. But of course, she has no problem reaching there despite the location.

"Honey," she mocks me, "I'm doing this with or without your help." Her electric green eyes seem to burn a hole through mine. Of course, they're rimmed in black eyeliner.  Where does she get this stuff?


I groan and know that she's not kidding. I might as well help out so she doesn't plaster paper to her damaged skin by herself; Nancy would blow up in both of our faces. "Here..." I grab a cap for the nurses' hair from their station opposite where we are, and I sprint back to her. It takes more effort than it should to jam it over the top of her curly bangs. She laughs silently again and helps me tug.

We spend the next hour carefully ripping out all shades and textures of hair, and gluing them to the cap crammed onto her hair. When we finally finish, she jumps up and runs giddily to a mirror, like a little girl on Christmas. She bounces up and down sprints back to me. "It's beautiful and completely hideous."

Her hands rest on my knees and she's leaning over me. In that moment, I have an awful, terrible urge to kiss her. Before I fully process the thought, I'm leaning toward her and I can smell her cinnamon toothpaste.

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