Chapter Thirteen

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Zayn's POV:

It was as if my life was in control of someone else; and they had just pressed pause on the hectic, unpredictable spiral of my life. Everything went quiet, it seemed, even my heart sounded like it'd ground to a halt. What had I done so horribly wrong to deserve all the unpresedented turbulence in the past few months?

My walls felt like they were crumbling as I held the phone to my ear. My Mum can't be ill. Cancerous, even. She didn't smoke that much. Well, given that I hadn't seen her in so long, things could've changed. Patricia seems like such a healthy woman. But you should never mistake a skinny smoker for healthy. I've been an idiot.

I cleared my dry throat, and opened my mouth for what seemed like the first time in years. Doniya had respected my lengthened silence.

''When can I see her?'' I choked. Only now I realised there were floods of tears dripping down my face.

''As soon as possible,'' Doniya gasped at my question, ''Get on the next train to Falkirk!''

Of course. How had I forgotten they lived in Scotland now?

In my catatonic state minutes after I'd been told the news, I'd been brought back to thinking my family still lived in Wolverhampton with me, and my time to see my Mum would rely only on visitor hours.

It relied on bloody trains, hotels, travel and visiting hours now.

I facepalmed. ''God... I'll get out of work now. I'll be up as soon as I can.'' I'm about to hang up when Doniya speaks again-

''Love you, Zayn... we'll be okay.'' She sobbed, and my heart wrenched at the sound.

''Yeah,'' I agreed, even though I knew we were both lying to each other. ''We'll be okay.''

So I did what she said, not without difficulty, but in the end I got myself an overpriced train ticket from Wolverhampton to Falkirk from an incredibly vacuous ticket officer. I'd been shaking four hours straight, it was now 06:24, and no matter what I ate or drank, I couldn't stop my trembling. Neither could I stop the thoughts of my mother, sallowed face and pale skin, draining a drip at her side, dying of a spreading cancer. It made me want to cry, vomit, throw a tantrum, but most of all it just made me want to hide in a corner and never speak again.

I had dismissed myself from work without any room for spare thoughts. I simply ran upstairs, grabbed my bag and drove (way over the speed limit) to the train station to catch the next long journey train up north. I cursed when I saw the times. 07:14 on a train that didn't guarantee me a seat as it had been travelling from Kings Cross.

At least there was no chance of getting bored, I thought. I needed to clear my thoughts anyways,, and now I had the entire train journey and a fifty minute wait to do that. So I sat myself on one of the metal waiting room chairs, and shut my eyes.

My silence was disturbed within but five minutes. 

''You all right? You look a wreck.'' Said a croaky old voice. I snapped my eyes open at the sound, glimpsed at the old man sitting next to me, then shut my eyes again and ignored him. I was not in the mood. He snorted ungracefully at my rudeness. ''My name's Kerr, nice to meet you too.'' 

I didn't feel bad, like I expected to at his sarcasm. Instead, I just cast him a strained smile. 

''I've seen that smile before,'' He sighed. ''Fake a smile. Don't let them know you're hurting. They don't care anyways...''

Well this is jolly, I thought.

''I know what you're thinking,'' Kerr said, then adopted a deeper tone of voice, ''I tell everyone to be strong, knowing I am the weakest person in the world... am I right?''

I look at my feet and nod soundlessly at the old man's words. 

''Knowing what self-deprivation is like, we should be great friends,'' Kerr said more to himself than me. I was grateful we were alone in this waiting room. ''Let's start with your name.''

''Why are you talking to me?'' I discard his question. 

He shrugged. ''Young people these days are so transparent-'' I sniff at his insult, ''It's just interesting. We may as well get to know each other. Are you north bound?'' I nod. He beamed. ''This train journey should go fast with you.''

The train ride, in the end, seems much shorter than five hours. The train stops whizz by, no one seems to be travelling today, even as we stop by at Doncaster, York, Darlington, Berwick, Edinburgh, Dunblane, Stirling, Camelon, Larbert and finally Falkirk Graehamston. 

Throughout this whole journey, I'd blabbled basically my whole life story to Kerr, including all the details about Niall, his illness, I even told him about my mother's new found condition. By midnight, when the train finally pulls into Falkirk, Kerr was my new friend. I shook hands with him, and stepped off the train, and wondered if I was realy prepared for this. 

Don't be a pussy, I scolded myself, Mum needs me. I can't get my nerves get in the way of that.

I call a taxi, trying not to overthink how much all of this travel will cost. Hell, it's late and I don't even know where I'm staying. I haven't even called Doniya. I haven't even called Niall. Or Ms. McArthy. There are so many practical things I need to do, but the only thing that is on my mind right now is to get to my mum. My mum who has cancer.


The cab takes me straight to the hospital, and I jump immediately out when the engine stops, almost forgetting to pay. Despite the late hour, I'm suddenly wide awake, and petrified over what I would see next. In the hospital I'm guided to my mum, after I'd shown ID, up countless flights of stairs and down long, badly lit corridors.

This side of the hospital was quiet. I didn't want to think why. 

The sweet nurse guides me right up to my mother's private room. I don't realize, numb to my emotions, that my whole frame is shaking uncontrollably, and my throat had gone dry as a bone.

''You okay, babe?'' The nurse asks.

I don't reply. The tension inside my was making my feel sick. I push open the door and walk into the room.

In the centre of room is a big bed, mechanical monitors and medical equipment. I tried to ignore it all, and I headed straight for my mother who was lying, asleep peacefully in the bed.

All the emotions and upset I'd been feeling the past few hours suddenly felt as if it'd just poured through open gates. I lost track of time; I could cry for days, months years, but whatever it was, I knew all my protective walls were falling in on me. Nothing would ever be the same again. Nothing could change the fact my mother has now got  a fatal illness. 


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