P.S. The amazing blogger Cat (from a Cat's Life) posted her story up as well. Take a look! Click Here :)
P.S.S. Emrys is pronounced Emriss, by the way :P
Miss Donovan smiled sympathetically, her slim hand curled round the edge of the syringe. “Sorry, Sophie. Two seconds and it’ll be over, ok? Now, close your eyes, if you don’t want to see.”
I squeezed my eyes shut. I hated getting my blood taken. The nurses were cheery and nice, but their optimism didn’t stop the horrible feeling of being drained.
“There you are. I’ll just take this to the doctor.” I opened my eyes. Miss Donovan had peeled off her latex gloves and the vial of crimson liquid had been sealed in a plastic bag. The blood sloshed up the side of it, leaving a sticky red mark, the way a tide darkens the sand.
“Thank you,” I said. My voice was croaky. “When you come back, can I go get my Mum?”
“Of course, darling. I’ll be a few minutes then I’ll get those tubes off you.” She smiled and wandered down the corridor, before disappearing round the corner.
I wriggled and pulled the duvet up onto my chest. The ward was quiet - there was only me, the boy next to me and a sickly looking boy whose face had gone a pale blue colour. He hadn’t moved in a while.
I pulled my arm closer to my chest, ignoring the long thin tube buried the crook of my elbow It was connected to a bag of something. Antibiotics? I had no idea. Five hours being tested and probed and fed medicine, and I didn’t even know why. Mummy didn’t tell me. She said I was too young. Rubbish. I was eleven and I was smart enough to know something was wrong.
The boy in the bed next to me took a shaky breath and turned a page in his book. He looked about fifteen, with thin dark brown hair. His eyes were sunken into his head, encircled by black rings. His skinny elbows rested on his hips in an attempt to keep the book he was reading upright. It was The Great Gatsby. I knew because for the last few hours I had been watching him as he alternated between his book and a scruffy notebook that now sat on the bedside table next to me.
I coughed and bit my lip. “Eh, hi. I’m Sophie.”
The boy didn’t react. He just turned another page in his book, silent and morose.
“I’m Sophie. What’s your name?”
The boy didn’t look up. “Emrys.”
“Cool. What age are you?”
“What are you reading?”
Emrys sighed and closed his book. He sat it on his lap with care and then turned to look at me. “Do you mind? I’m trying to read.” He opened his book again and went back to ignoring me.
I pushed myself up in the bed, resting my back on the mountain of pillows. My face was set in a scowl. “I was only trying to be polite.”
“Well, don’t be. I don’t want to talk to you. If I wanted to talk to you, I would have initiated conversation.”
I crossed my arms and pouted. “There’s no need to be rude.”
“I’m not trying to be rude. I’m trying to get you to shut up. It’s not working.”
There was a minute of silence until I leaned over and looked at his notebook. “What’s that?”
“My notebook. Now, leave me alone!”
My hand reached out and stroked the cover. “What’s inside it?”
My hand skimmed the surface of the book and I slid a rounded fingernail under the first page. A little peek wouldn’t hurt... I opened the notebook and stared at the yellowed page. The pencil was smudged and slanted but I managed to make out a few words - Two roads diverged in a yellow wood And sorry I could not-
“What are you doing!” The notebook was yanked from my hands. I glanced up and stared at Emrys face. It was red and fiery and his eyes sparked. “Never touch my stuff! NEVER TOUCH IT!” He held my eyes for a moment and lay back down in his bed, the notebook on his stomach, protected with closed fists.
I watched him for a second and then pulled the duvet up over my flushed face. He had shouted at me. Not just the silly shouting Mummy did, but real anger, blisteringly hot words of rage. I had wanted him to like me, but now...now...
“Sophie? Are you ok?”
I looked up from the white folds of the duvet and saw Miss Donovan’s worried face staring down at me. “I-I’m fine.” I wiped my eyes and felt a thin layer of moisture cling to my fingers.
“What’s up, honey?”
“I guess I want to go home, that’s all.”
Miss Donovan smiled. “Of course. Give me your arm and we’ll get that IV off you.”
I stuck out my wrist and waited as Miss Donovan started tampering with the tube in my elbow. “Miss Donovan?” I said after a few moments.
“Who is that boy over there? Emrys? What’s he writing?”
Miss Donovan’s fingers flew over the bag above me and I saw her unhook something. “I think it’s poetry, dear. That’s all he’s ever told me about that little book of his, other than the strict instruction not to touch it.” The harsh burn of shame rose to my cheeks, but Miss Donovan didn’t notice. “I’ve not read any of it, of course, but he’s almost finished the entire notebook.”
I glanced at Emrys. He was reading again, and wasn’t paying the slightest bit attention to our conversation.
“What’s wrong with him?”
Miss Donovan paused and I saw her eyes flick to Emrys bed. “He-he’s got a very bad disease called leukaemia and it makes him not very well.”
“Lookemeah?” The word sounded dirty in my mouth, like broccoli dipped in sewage.
“Yes, dear. It means that there are some bad things in his body, and they’re very hard to get rid of.” She stopped for a moment and pressed her hand below my elbow. “I’m going to take this out now, ok?”
I nodded and felt a sharp twinge in my elbow. I winced and waited for Miss Donovan to put a plaster over the hole. “There you are. All done.” Miss Donovan smiled. “You can go see your mum now. I think she’s downstairs in the cafe. Do you want me to come with you?”
I pushed the duvet off my legs and swung them out the bed. I pressed one to the ground and stood up. It felt amazing, like suddenly being able to fly. I felt so free. “No thank you. I can manage.” I reached under my bed and grabbed my rucksack. I swung it over my shoulder and smiled at Miss Donovan. “Thank you for helping me.”
Miss Donovan looked like she was about to cry as she bent down and wrapped her arms around me. “It’s ok, Sophie. You’ll be fine.” She straightened up and smiled. “Will you be alright?”
“Right as rain.”
She laughed and patted my head. “Ok then. Bye, Sophie.” She grinned over her shoulder as she marched off down the hallway. I watched as she vanished and then turned to face Emrys.
“’Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.’”
Emrys glanced up, his brow furrowed. “You know Robert Frost?”
I shook my head. “No. I read it off your notebook.”
Emrys face fell and he went back to his book. He wasn’t as red and his face was resuming its original pasty white colour.
I sat down on the bed. “Tell me the rest.”
Emrys glanced up, and then went back to his book. “Why?”
“Because I want to know how it ends.”
Emrys sat silent for a moment and then closed his book, sitting it on his lap above his notebook. “It’s called ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost.” He took a deep breath,
“’Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry, I could not travel both,
And be one traveller, long I stood,
And looked down one as far I could,
To where it bent in the undergrowth.
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear.
Though as for that my passing there,
Had worn them really about the same.
But both that morning equally lay,
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads onto way,
I doubt if should ever go back.
I shall be telling you this with a sigh,
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference’”
His voice was thick and rich as butter and when he had finished, silence settled over the ward like a burn - painful, seething and hard to remove. A minute or so passed before one of us spoke.
“It’s my favourite poem.” Emrys sighed. The edge of his nail tickled a white scar on his hand.
“What age are you now?”
“Fifteen. The doctors say I have another year or so ahead of me, but that’s all.” He looked me in the eyes and smiled. “I heard the nurse tell you what’s wrong with me. It’s nothing - just a little something that speeds up dying.” He stroked the spine of his book. “What’s wrong with you?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “My mum won’t tell me. I was getting tests done today.” I paused for a second. “Sometimes I cough up blood.”
The conversation lapsed into silence as we both fell into our thoughts. A year. That was all he had, and he was spending most of it in a hospital bed, chemicals in his blood and a notebook in his hand. And it struck me that I could be sitting in that hospital bed sooner than later. I swallowed a cry as my hand snaked over the duvet and grabbed Emrys.
“I guess we both took the road less travelled, huh?”
Emrys squeezed my hand and smiled. “Yeah,” he said, ours hand entwined over his book. “I guess we have.”
How was that? Leave your comment below :D I also wanted to say that I've started listening to ViolinistBAKA on youtube. Please take a look at her stuff. She's amazing :O