Chapter 30

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Monday, October 20th

"Leah?" 
I jerk my eyes from their former position, starting pointlessly at a crack in the wall. "Hmm?"
Joshua  frowns, then smiles almost tentatively. "Do you have any tea?"
"I don't think the doctor would let you have any even if we did."
"So you don't?"
"Nope." I bite my lip.
"Could you get some?" He raises his one stitch-free eyebrow. "Please?"
"I'm not leaving you."
He gives me a sincere smile. "Leah, you should go home. You aren't doing either of us a favor by being here and smelling like that." he grins. "Please? I want some tea."
"Joshua?"
He nods. "Yeah?"
"You're mean."
"I'm thirsty." he gives me misleadingly innocent eyes.
I glare at him, but not fully feeling it in my heart. "I'll go then. But if you go anywhere while I'm gone, I'll never forgive you."
"I won't go anywhere." he waves his free hand, gesturing me toward the doorway. "Now go! My throat feels like the Sahara!"
I walk away, and reply from the hall. "There is always water, you know."
"Yuck. Hospital water."
I chuckle blandly and take the elevator down to the ground floor. I walk through the lobby, probably collecting strange glances as I go, but I don't notice.
The fresh air floods my nostrils when I step out into the sidewalk, and the sunshine blinds my eyes. I'm almost happy. I turn and look up, scanning the windows on the third floor, until I remember that his window doesn't face the parking lot.
So, after approximately five second of musing over how stupid I am, I walk to Bailey's car, that I am borrowing, climb in, and drive away.
I roll the windows down as I drive down main street, even though it's only forty five degrees outside, and turn the radio on, cranking it up loud. I sing along with The Band Perry's 'All Your Life', tangled stands of hair whipping my neck.
Lately I've been writing desperate love songs
I mostly sing them to the wall.
You could be the center piece of my obsession
If you would notice me at all, yeah
Well, I don't want the whole world, no
The sun, the moon, and all their light
I just want to be the only girl
You love all your life
You love all your life
My lungs are burning, but I feel good. I feel like I could almost forget that Josh is in the hospital. Almost. But I know I couldn't, and I would want to anyway. My mind may be in denial of his condition, but my heart knows. My heart knows, or the pieces of my heart know. It's ready to shatter, like a windshield after a rock hits it, fractured into ready-made shards, but still in one piece. Ready to break.
I turn the radio off and run my right hand through my hair, my left hand still on the steering wheel.
Please let him be okay...
-*-*-*-
I walk through the house, my hair up in a towel, considering the joys of being clean. I'm not completely sure where everyone is, but I'm the only one here, and it's a little strange, to say the least. The house is quiet, so quiet in fact that when I open up another box of teabags, the sound of ripping cardboard seems to echo all through the house. 
I sigh loudly, blinking a few times to clear my head. Sleep depravation is not something to be laughed at.
The water comes to a boil and I lower the teabags into the bubbling liquid, taking the saucepan by its handle and moving it to a cool burner. Ten minutes. Ten minutes and I'll go back. 
The stove creaks as the burner cools down, and I bury my head in my hands, groaning under my breath.
I don't really know what to do about all of this. If I'm honest with myself, I'm not even certain what is going on at all. I pour the hot tea into our old glass pitcher and add sugar, mindlessly, my hands knowing their place even though my mind does not.
"I'm fine." Those two words echo through the caverns of my brain as I carry the pitcher out to Bailey's car. 
The way to the hospital is pretty populated, there are houses crowding both sides of the highway, spaced fairly close together for this far into the country. The trees are bare, the skies filled with wintery clouds, twisted and dull gray.
I don't particularly care for the scenery on this drive, or maybe it's the knot that has formed in my gut. Just the same, the drive isn't a very good one.
After making my way slowly through the lobby, I walk to Dr Reimer's  office, instead of going to the room. 
"Knock-knock," I offer, quietly tapping the tiled floor with my foot.
"Leah." He gestures for me to come in, not looking away from the screen of his laptop. "Give me a minute, I've got to send an email..." He trails off into silence, the clicking off his computer mouse filling the silence. After a few minutes he closers his laptop, and rests his chin in his hand. "What was it?"
I clear my throat and hold up the tea. "Is it alright for him to have tea?"
"I guess so." he smiles wearily. "I haven't talked to Joshua yet, but we are going to try go arrange an appointment for him with a cancer specialist sometime either this week or next."
I frown. "So it is cancer?"
"Not necessarily. We don't have a CT scan here, so we can't find out."
I raise an eyebrow incredulously. "The nearest CT scan is in Tulsa?"
"No, but the nearest cancer specialist is, so if it is cancer, he'll be in a place where they can take care of him."
I scowl down darkly at my hands where they sit idle in my lap, setting my jaw. "Should I tell him?"
"You can, but if you don't want to, I can."
"No, I can do it." I stand, holding the tea jug awkwardly. "Well, thanks."
"I'm really sorry, Leah."
"For what?" I stare back at him tearfully. As much as I despise these tears, I can't hide them this time.
"For everything. For all of this. He doesn't deserve to go through this, and neither do you."
"Thanks, Dr Reimer." I smile sadly.
"He's the only boy I know who might deserve you." 
I nod, and walk out of his office without another word. 
The door to Josh's room is open, and I can hear two voices talking. Josh's, and then another, very familiar one.
"Luke?" I eye him suspiciously. "What are you doing here?"
"I actually came to see Josh."
Joshua just have noticed the uncertainty pasted all across my face, because he quickly speaks up. "Leah, you know Luke, of course." I give him a questioning look. "We've been friends for a long time."
"Oh?"
Luke scratches the back of his head uncomfortably. "Yeah, actually I've known Josh for longer than I've known you."
"Huh."
"Yep."
Luke slips past me. "Well, I'd better get home."
"Where is Bailey?"
"She's got a fever. Whoever she kissed at the dance must have been contaminated." He chuckles humorously.
"She didn't get a chance to kiss anyone. She came straight from the parking lot to the hospital." I say quietly.
"Oh... Well, see you later, bro. Leah."
He walks out, and I turn to Joshua. "What did he have to say?"
"Mainly that he's sorry."
"Oh." I remember suddenly and hold up the pitcher. 
He grins. "I love you so much."
I pour him a glass. "For my tea?"
He accepts it from me and takes a long gulp. "No, but it's definitely a bonus."

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