i do not own anthing: characters belong to oth and mark and teh cw or whatever, and the plot and medical info totally belongs to jodi picoult.
…Thirteen years ago…
You know every inch of your child, every scar, every discoloration, every detail, or at least I do. I soak them in, as if it may be the last time I see them, what did they wear today, how was their hair, did they grow? It may surprise you the changes one day can do, you’ll look up in the morning to find the sleepy toddler walking into the room as they rub their eyes and it’ll hit you that they look bigger, or their features have just changed that tad so you catch more of a glimpse of the adult they promise to be. The bruise wasn’t there when I changed Keith, I know that, so when Sawyer points it out as I swap their clothes for swim suits I can’t help but stare.
The bruise itself looks like a four leaf clover, small and along his spine, thinking it can’t be more than dirt I lick my finger and then rub at the spot but it refuses to come off, “does it hurt?” I ask my son but Keith just shakes his head. Sawyer puts her face as close to the mark as she can and then looks up at me with her narrow blue eyes “does that mean he’s lucky?” and I just give a nervous smile and finish getting them ready. Keith is two months shy of his second birthday, a small boy with pale skin and big brown eyes. He looks like me, I’ve looked for Lucas is our son’s features but I never seem to find my husband in there, just me. Sawyer though is the female version of her father, and I do the same thing, I try to search for Peyton in the little girls face hoping to catch a glimpse of the best friend I lost, but as hard as I look the resemblance can always be credited back to Lucas. I guess we each have our clone. “Careful, Sawyer” I call out and protectively stop her by placing a hand on her shoulder, the ground is wet around the pool and the last thing I want is for my step daughter to get hurt. Sawyer likes to go head first into situations, never considering the danger, only last month she jumped off the kitchen counter and cut her chin in the fall, leaving a crescent shape scar that is still healing.
“Brooke” she complains, shrugging my hand away, and I know I have offended the child, she only ever calls me Brooke when I’m in the bad books or she’s thinking too hard, otherwise I’m just Momma. It’s this clear distinction that is always there, the fact I am not her real
mother, and I dread the day she decides that means that I don’t have to mean as much to her.
She frowns, her little face crinkling up, “I’m six
now, you don’t have to hold my hand anymore” but that doesn’t mean I stop feeling the need to, but she’s right, she’s six and she needs to feel some sort of independence, so I let her go.
Keith wiggles in my arms, always so quiet, and I run my fingers through his short dark hair, before settling him down on the ground.
“Watch me, watch me!” Sawyer screams out in a giggle and I look up just in time to see her jump straight into the pool, I hold my breath like always until her head pops back up, a huge smile on her face, and I clap until she’s pulling herself back up and jumping back in “careful!” I tell her again and Sawyer rolls her eyes. I worry too much, Lucas tells me that all the time.
I step carefully into the cold water, allowing myself to get use to the chill before taking the next step and then the next. Watching Keith eyeing me the whole time, I try to smile at him but I’m afraid it doesn’t reach my eyes, “look Keith, Mommy and Sawyer like the water” I tell him softly, holding out my arms. Keith isn’t like Sawyer, he’s shyer, more thoughtful, and likes to test the water. Eyeing me still he takes a step forward and dips his toe in but quickly takes it back out. As Keith takes a step back Sawyer waits impatiently by the pool “watch me Momma” she calls out, I send her a glance that clearly states wait a moment
and she huffs. “Come on, baby, Mommy will hold onto you” I try telling Keith but he looks dubiously at the pool, Sawyer unable to wait anymore throws herself into the water, it splashes up and gets me in the face, no doubt wetting Keith as well “SAWYER BROOKE SCOTT! not so close to your brother, you know better” and I watch as she scowls some more and swims to the side, getting out again and stomping further away from us “I hate having a dumb brother anyway, I wish he went away”
she mumbles under her breath and I just sigh, not having the energy to deal with her temper at the moment.
The next time Sawyer jumps into the pool the splash only just manages to spray the ground near Keith’s feet, but this time he chuckles, and slowly I coax him closer to the edge, until he puts both feet onto the shallow step, then I sweep him up and with him in my arms walk further into the pool. “Good jump!” I call to Sawyer as she comes up to the surface again, and I’m rewarded with a grin.
Sawyer swims up to me, and minding her brother wraps an arm around my neck as she clings to my body, I give her a sad smile and with my spare hand I brush a stray piece of wet hair from her face. Her little hand lifts to my face, and she touches my dimple which is on show because I’m biting my bottom lip, then runs her thumb along my lips “what happened to your smile?” she asks innocently.
A sob breaks from me, but I don’t cry, I refuse to cry, and I’m especially not going to break down in front of the kids. Sawyer tilts her head, honest blue eyes observing my face “why’d you lose it?” she asks this time.
Avoiding her beautiful face I focus on the ripples in the water “I’m just a little sad”
“Can I kiss it better?” and before I can answer her little lips are already reaching up to my nose to peck it, and for the first time in a month I manage a genuine full smile, “all better?” the same words I always say to her after I kiss another one of her scrapes better, and even though I am far from being the bubbly Brooke Scott I usually am, I still nod.
By the time I look up I notice Lucas standing by the pool gate watching us, “hey stranger”
“How you feeling?” he asks me as Sawyer lets go of my neck to make her way to her father, Lucas meets her at the edge and lifts her up “hi princess, have you been good?”
“Uh-huh, Momma and I made cookies” and for a moment he beams at his daughter, tugging her wet piggy tails before sending me a questioning look, I roll my eyes up to the sky and shrug one shoulder, trying to tell him silently that I’m not okay, but I’m getting there. He nods and once again smiles down at Sawyer “where are these cookies?” before carrying her inside as the little girl chatters on.
The pool was simply a way to indulge my children, with Lucas home Sawyer’s interest is all gone and I know she’ll want to share everything she did today with her father, and Keith doesn’t really seem to care about the water. I look down at my son, this mini version of me, and just wish that someday soon I can get back to being the mother he remembers, but I think I need a lot more kisses better before that day.
The dinner table is covered, and I know the moment Lucas touches a page and looks at me that I’ve once again worried him “its alright” I say, not meeting his eye as I start getting out the plates. I can hear him think, “still nothing?” and I just give a tight smile and shake my head, abandoning my spot I rush over to the table and scoop up the evidence talking fast as I carelessly toss them over onto Sawyer’s play table “don’t give me that look, Luke, I’m fine, everything’s fine, and it means nothing” but then he grabs my wrist and spins me around, “Pretty Girl” is all he says, the long ago nickname he slips into anytime he feels like I’m slipping.
I look up “please, Luke, I’m okay”
“You haven’t cried yet”
I stay silent, unmoving. My husband sighs again, his fingers circling the bare skin of my arm, and then he speaks again “you haven’t cried yet, you haven’t created one new design, I can’t remember the last time I saw you smile, it is not
No, it isn’t, and as amazing as it is to have Lucas holding me, pulling my body close to his chest and hearing the thump of his heart under my cheek, it is still not okay. But I don’t cry.
“I’m hungry” Sawyer breaks the moment by running into the kitchen, I use the distraction to step away from Lucas and avoid eye contact, “are you, sweetie? Then I guess its time to eat. Go get your brother” and that crooked smile she gives before running away goes a long way at the moment, it gives me the strength to carry on.
From behind me Lucas’ hands grip my shoulders “this isn’t over, we have to talk about it because I’m not sure how much longer you can go on like this”, his words relax me, because knowing I have him here for me means a lot, “okay, but not tonight, just let me spend time with the family I have left”.
We say nothing more as we finish setting the table and all sit down, but as I lean over to help Sawyer cut her meat Lucas asks me if I heard from Nathan or Haley today, and just like that we go back to our usual talking, our roles as loving husband and wife, caring best friends and bickering couple.
After dinner Sawyer begs me to read her a story and it’s a half an hour before lights go out, I kiss her cheek and sneak away from her room. Lucas grins at me, standing in the doorway of our room with Keith in his arms “someone else wanted their kiss”
I smooth back Keith’s hair, kissing the top of his head, and welcome him into my arms as he struggles to escape Lucas to reach me. “Where’s my kiss?” Lucas whines, and I can’t help but scoff before leaning up and placing a soft kiss against his lips, only it becomes slightly more than I expect, and when we finally part I smile. He blinks, then runs his thumb along my bottom lip not too unlike how Sawyer had done in the pool “was that a smile?” he asks, gently as if afraid that saying it out loud will make the smile go away.
“I’m trying, Luke, I am” I tell him, and he brings me into a hug, burying his face into my hair as he whispers to me “that’s all I can ask”.
That night when we crawl into bed together Lucas curls me into his body, the same way he always does, only this time when he gives me a kiss I let all of myself get lost in it, I welcome his hands on my body and for the first time since the day of my mothers funeral we make love.
The next morning I wake alone in bed, knowing that today Lucas would have woken up early and gone for a jog before heading off to the school where he’s the coach of the Tree Hill Ravens. Mornings like this Lucas never wakes me up, leaving the task to the children who always decide that my day should start an hour before I think it should. The strange thing is that this morning when I glance at the clock it reads nine thirty, not only have Sawyer and Keith not woken me but Sawyer is now officially late for school, so by the time I am walking down the stairs I am becoming more and more frantic, rushing into the kitchen where a puddle of spilt milk waits on the wooden table, and a trail of fruit loops make a pattern on the floor, this time I have to admit that there is anger rising up inside me but it disappears the moment I step into the living room to find Sawyer sitting on the couch, eating her breakfast, and looking adorable in her attempt at dressing herself. The skirt is on sideways, the buttons are in all the wrong holes, her socks are mismatched, and her hair is in a pony tail that is threatening to come undone any minute now. And she turns, grinning at me widely so I can see the gap from her missing tooth, and for a flash I see Peyton looking up at me “morning Momma” she says, happy and content, before spooning in another mouthful. I walk further into the room “why didn’t you wake me?” I ask gently, leaning down and carefully pulling out the lackey from her hair. She shrugs “you looked real happy sleeping so I thinking I could help you and get ready for school alone”
“Well, now you’re going to be late for school-” I begin to say but her eyes shadow over, and knowing that this little child was doing everything she could to cheer me up I put on a warm smile and instead finish with “-but thank you so much, everyone needs a sleep in every now and then… where’s Keith?” I suddenly ask, the absence of my son shooting through me. Sawyer simply shrugged again and answered distractedly, her eyes focused on the cartoon she was watching, “he wanted a sleep in too”. My children are like an alarm clock, they wake up at the same time every morning, cheerfully happy and ready for the day, they usually jump onto my bed forcing me up too, so Keith not wanting to wake up instantly makes me curious, he’s been sniffling lately and I wonder if he’s coming down with something, which could explain his even quieter mood yesterday. With Keith it’s hard to tell, he’s always been quiet, and his voice so soft and little where as Sawyer was always the one you could hear from down the street. With a ruffle of Sawyer’s hair I tell her I’ll be back soon, and then I start towards Keith’s room, calling his name loudly as I go.
One eye flutters open when I touch his tiny shoulder, those big brown eyes looking more green than usual as he stares at me with just one, “Keith, baby, time to get up” I coo to him, pulling off his blanket and already mentally going over the doctor’s number in my head. Slowly, and still like he’s half asleep, Keith stumbled in his attempt to climb into my lap, and when his head eventually finds my shoulder it is still without one word from him. I peel his shirt off, reassuringly talking to him the whole time, telling him that we’re going to go see a special friend today, and then I stop midsentence, as my eyes fall to his back. There they are, lined along his spine, three more small bruises.
We wait for the results of the blood test, Sawyer resting her head on my lap as Keith flips through a bright kids book in the play corner. The doctor suspects some sort of virus, and I try not to play doctor and think of all the Grey’s Anatomy episodes I watched where similar symptoms have lead to tragic diagnosis. Just because I watch Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t make me a doctor, I tell myself that over and over again, watching my precious son play quietly as if he has no care in the world. Sawyer has been clinging to me all morning, as if she can instinctively tell that I’m worried and scared. What I want to be doing at the moment is taking my kids home, away from this room with god knows how many kids and germs passing through, after the doctor tells me that it is nothing, hands me a prescription and tells us to go home. In the end though its another hour and a half before Dr Yates ushers us back into his office, and I can tell from his face that what is about to happen is far from what I want to happen. I’ve known Edward Yates for six years; the paediatric doctor has been looking after Sawyer and Keith from their first needles to every sniffle and, in Sawyer’s case, broken bones. He’s only seven years older than us, and one of the kindest and jolliest guys I have ever met, I’m actually the one who introduced him to his wife, so yes I think I know him well enough to know that I don’t
like the look on his face.
By the time I sit down I’m convinced I’m reading to much into it, I look at Keith who now sits in my lap, playing with my necklace and wearing a dimpled smile, surely this happy little boy is perfectly fine. Sawyer sits next to me, kicking her feet so with each tick of the clock her shoes bang the doctor’s desk, I touch her knee “please, Sawyer, not now” and her kicks stop, I then look at the doctor “Dr Yates, Edward, you’re scaring me with that look” and I can feel Sawyer suddenly look at me, noticing the shake in my voice.
“It’s Keith’s white cell count. The results show it’s much lower than normal”
“I don’t know what that means” and my hand subconsciously starts rubbing Keith’s back, and in the back of my head I can hear the steady rhythm of Sawyer’s kicks again, I still her once more as Edward explains it to me “he may have some type of autoimmune deficiency, or it may be a lab error. I think, to be safe, I’m going to send you up to the haematologist at the hospital to repeat the test”
You’ve got to be kidding, it was had enough watching Keith go through the needles the first time around. I want to take my kids home. He hands me a piece of paper, but it’s not the prescription I wanted earlier, instead it’s a name Candice Hyams, Tree Hill Hospital, Haematology/Oncology
I shake my head, “oncology?” I look up at Edward “but that’s cancer” and I wait for him to explain it, to say how it’s just a title or that the blood lab and cancer ward simply share the same floor, anything to get the word cancer out of my mind, because it has to be a mistake.
He gives me no such explanation. I close my eyes, count back from ten, and this time when Sawyer starts kicking I let her.
There are moments in life, crossroads when we make life changing decisions without even knowing it. Like the doctor suggesting you terminate your pregnancy because having the baby most likely will kill you, only to fight and survive that and then decide to go for an innocent drive mere weeks later and die in a car accident. Or, following a whim you climb naked into the backseat of a boy’s car in high school, having no idea that over ten years later you would marry the same boy. A moment that changes everything, not only the course of your own destiny but that of those around you, another one, waiting in a hospital for your husband to pick up his phone so you can tell him the very thing you’ve been trying to convince yourself for hours is really nothing is actually your biggest fear.
Haley picks up, her voice in mid laugh as she says I’ve reached Coach Scott’s line, “Haley, it’s me, Brooke”
“Hey Tigger, how are the kids?”
I almost choke, and it takes a moment for me to say instead “can you please put Lucas on”
“He just stepped out, want me to get him to call you back?”
“Brooke, are you alright?”
And I shake my head, whispering in a broken voice “no, I’m not. I need to speak to Lucas”
There’s a muffle over the line and then seconds later Lucas’ voice finally speaks to me “Brooke?”
“I need you”
“I’m there” he replies straight away, and I can hear him give Haley a rushed goodbye as I imagine him racing out of his office, his breathing is rough from running by the time he manages to ask me where I am.
“We’re at the hospital”
Having Lucas by my side is a comfort, as if now together we’re stronger, a double line of defence. With Lucas here Sawyer is less worried, allowing herself to leave my side and play, Keith just lies half over both of us, his little hands holding tightly onto Lucas’ shirt as he sleeps. It’s got to be some sort of mistake, some horrible mistake.
We’ve been here nearly four hours, and the doctor is now asking us all these questions, it feels like he’s asked us everything from what position we conceived Keith to when he started feeding himself. I’m tired, my kids are tired, I’m scared, my kids are scared, and we all just want to go home.
I snap “are these questions really necessary?”
“We’re building a medical history, Mrs Scott, we want to know everything we possibly can about your son, so we can understand what is wrong with him. Now, his first word?”
“Dada” Lucas whispers, a smile on his lips, “his first word was Dada”
“I mean, when was it?”
“Oh” Lucas frowns and turns to me, I think he’s still completely lost, not believing where we are - he’s not the only one. I look down at Keith, and touch his jean clad legs as I remember his screams from all the needles, “ten months” I answer.
Another doctor wearing a lab coat walks up to us in the silence that followed, “Mr and Mrs Scott, I’m a phlebotomist. Dr Hyams wants me to do a coag panel on Keith”
“Can’t you do a finger stick?” Lucas asks.
She blinks at us, “no, this is really the easiest way”
Something roars inside me, something primitive and strong, I slip carefully from beneath Keith and stand up, staring down at the phlebotomist “do you think I care about what is easier for you? Do you think it’s easy for us, waiting here with our children who should be at home, not knowing what’s going on or why you keep doing these test? Do you think it’s easy for my son? Since when did we get the option to do what’s easiest?” I’m getting louder and louder. When it comes to Keith I like to have the last word, as much as I love Sawyer when push comes to shove Lucas always gets the last word because he’s her father and I’m the stepmother, so though he asks my opinion all major decisions are in the end made by him – does she get her ears pierced, which school does she go to… as much as we say it’s even it isn’t, he gets the last say. So with Keith I fight that little bit harder to get the last word.
Lucas grabs me, pulling me back into his body “Pretty Girl” he whispers, a pleading in his tone, I turn in his arms, burying myself into his chest. I can’t handle looking at these white walls for a moment longer, I can’t handle all these doctors who talk about things I don’t understand, most of all I can’t handle the thought my family is about to lose somebody else.
How long Lucas rocks me I don’t know, but Dr Hyams reappears “I hear there was a problem with Keith’s coagulopathy panel” and still against Lucas’ chest, but now sitting down, I hear the scrape of another chair as Dr Hyams sits in front of us “…his blood count is very low--1.3. His haemoglobin is 7.5, hematocrit 18.4, platelets 81,000, and neutrophils 0.6. Numbers like that suggests an autoimmune disease, but Keith’s results also show twelve percent promyelocytes, and five percent blasts, which means that in your sons case all indications point to a leukemic syndrome”
The word repeats itself over and over in my head, finally I lift my face from Lucas’ chest and look at the doctor “leukemic”
“Leukaemia is a blood cancer”
I didn’t need the doctor to tell me that, I know what leukaemia is, I didn’t even need to watch Grey’s for that knowledge. “There has to be some mistake” Lucas says, now holding tightly onto my hand.
The doctor shakes her head, “I’ll need to do a bone marrow aspiration to confirm it, but at this point it seems Keith has acute promyelocytic leukaemia”
One questions hovers heavily inside my throat, unable to escape, a moment later Lucas asks the very thing I’m too afraid to, “is… is our son going to die?”
I don’t want to hear the answer, I don’t want to be here, but here I am waiting for this stranger to tell me if one of the most precious people in my life is about to be taken. Dr Hyams seems to struggle to find words, and I already know, after all what words are the right words to tell a parent their child is dying? There are none.
“APL is a very rare subgroup of myeloid leukaemia, only about twelve hundred people a year are diagnosed with it. The rate of survival is twenty to thirty percent, if treatment is started immediately”
The numbers repeat in my head as I consider the odds, ones against my son, I’m speechless, unable to do anything but stare at Keith’s flushed cheeks. Lucas is calmer, though his eyes look glazy, “so there is a way to… save him?”
The doctor leans forward, looking us both in the eye, so intensely that one of my eyes stray from Keith to focus on her. “Yes-” the doctor nods “-with aggressive treatment myeloid leukaemias carry a survival prognosis of nine months to three years”
I’ve dreamt of watching Keith get married, proudly clapping at his graduation, teaching him to drive, I’ve imagined the life he’ll get to life, having his own family, a happy home and satisfying job. For two years I have imagined his future and now in a split second I find out that might not even include his first day at school.
By the time we get home from the hospital dinner time has long gone, we grabbed the kids McDonalds on the way but neither Lucas or I could stomach food at the moment, and they’re both asleep in the back when we finally stop at our home. We don’t move, Lucas just stares at his hands holding the steering wheel and I have no words to say to him, no words to comfort him at this time because I don’t have the ones to help myself let alone him. It’s just so unfair.
The silence is grating, louder than any noise that could break this moment, but then it starts, the quiet sobs coming from my husband as he lowers his chin. I can’t bear to stand watching Lucas cry as the tears I can’t shed fall down his cheeks. Quickly I open my door and almost slam it as I turn away from the car. A moment later Lucas’ door shuts too and then he’s touching my shoulder “Brooke?”
I don’t turn around, shaking off his touch “we have to get them inside” and blindly I go back to the car and open the backdoor only to see Keith sleeping peacefully in his car seat and the sight makes me stagger back against Lucas who is still close behind me. Will he look so peaceful when the time comes, will he just slip away in his sleep or will it be painful, will there be warning or will one minute he just be gone? I hate that I’m thinking these questions and my hand slaps across my mouth, holding in the involuntary cry that wants to escape my throat. I step backwards, forcing Lucas to do so as well, “I can’t do it… not now”
“Okay. That’s okay, Brooke, I’ll get Keith, you go get Sawyer” Lucas says and already moves around me. I stand there for a second, watching him carefully lift Keith out, as if the little boy is breakable, and I guess now he almost is. Lucas eyes catch mine as he cradles Keith, “it’s okay” he says again, but we both know it’s not. I nod anyway and speed walk to Sawyer’s side, and with the same care unbuckle her seat and lift her into my arms. She’s getting heavier, and like she reminds me she’s six now not a little girl, but she’ll always be my little girl, just like Keith will always be my little boy, even when he’s twen… if
he reaches twenty.
Once the kids are in bed I ignore Lucas and go have a shower, washing the hospital off my body, but warm and clean once again I ache for his arms. I need him to tell me it’s going to be alright, I need him to save our family from all of it. Instead after searching the house I nervously make my way outside and see the light in the garage on, sighing I cross my arms and take the steps to the door, anger already growing inside me by the time I walk inside to find Lucas sitting in the drivers seat, head bent low as more tears fall from him.
“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?” I scream, Lucas jumps, a heartbroken expression on his face as he looks up at me “I asked you what the hell you think you’re doing”
“No! Get out, get out now!” and I can’t help that the thought of him sitting in that car disgusts me because I know why he’s chosen to sit there instead of waiting for me, his wife. But Lucas chooses to stay seated in the black comet that hasn’t seen the light of day in six years, the car which is missing the bonnet and is smashed in on the front passenger’s side. It was the very spot Peyton Sawyer Scott took her last breath, the girl who was my best friend and the woman who was his first wife. “GET OUT!” I scream again.
Lucas just looks at me, and I shake my head “don’t do it Luke, don’t you dare start mourning our son before he’s even gone” and I point an accusatory finger at him.
“I don’t know what to do”
and his voice breaks as more tears fall, and I fight the deep despair that is threatening to sink me, but as much as I try to soften my voice it still sounds angry when I glare at him and speak again, “well I’ll tell you what not
to do. Don’t
sit in that
car and think about death, don’t
cry out here alone and think about my son dying, because he’s not going to, okay? He. Is. Not. Going. To. Die.”
“BUT WHAT IF HE DOES?” Lucas screams, hitting the car, glaring right back at me “you’re thinking about it too. Thinking about Keith, Peyton, your Mom, thinking that our son is going to be next”
“But he’s not, because we’re going to fight this, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we don’t lose him” and as I stubbornly tell my husband this I make a promise to myself, a promise that I will fight tooth and nail to keep my family together. Keith is going nowhere.
Lucas looks down again, his voice still so quiet like he’s given up “I keep hearing what the doctor said”
“So am I, Lucas, and you know what else she said… kids beat the odds everyday”
“They also die everyday”
There’s a gasp and at first I think I made it, it takes a second for it to hit that the tiny sound came from behind me, turning slowly I come face to face with Sawyer standing meekly in the doorway, silent tears flowing from her eyes.
“Sawyer” Lucas and I both say at the same time, the little girl stares at her father, finally her usually loud voice speaks softly “is Keith going to go to heaven like Granma ‘Toria did?” and her question freezes us both, my mouth drops open. Her blue eyes flash to me, more tears coming out “I didn’t mean it” she says, sounding so scared and guilty “I didn’t mean it when I said I want him to go away. I don’t want my brother to go to heaven” and in a blink of the eye I run to her and pull her into my arms, hugging her with everything in me, “I know, sweetie, I know”.
Soon my shirt is wet from her tears, I carefully pick her up “he’s sick, but we’re going to make sure he gets better, do you hear me squirt? Your brother isn’t going anywhere”
“Promise?” Sawyer begs from my shoulder, and I can hear Lucas say my name quietly, begging me to not make I promise I can’t keep, I close my eyes and pull Sawyer in tighter “we’re a family and families stick together, he’s not going anywhere”
Turning around to look at Lucas, Sawyer still in my arms, I give him one last defiant glare “get out” I command once more, my voice cold, then I turn my back on the picture of my husband crying in that car and carry my step daughter inside, back to bed where she can dream about something wonderful, not the darkness that had suddenly taken hold of our home.
Lucas sits on the end of our bed when I walk back into our room, he looks at me, dry eyed but still looking distraught. He just looks at me, and I feel everything hitting me at once, all the pain and all the grief. I fall to my knees at his feet, my head to his lap, and Lucas spreads his knees apart and pulls me that little bit closer so I’m hugging his middle, he wraps his arms around me and rests his forehead against my head, and in this moment despite everything I feel completely safe. And for the first time since my mother died I allow myself to cry, I cry for all I’ve lost and all I could still lose, I cry until there are no tears left. When I’m silent Lucas lifts me up and carries me to bed, gently putting me down before crawling in beside me and scooping me into his hold like every other night, “you’re right. And our son is going to beat the odds, we’re going to fight this thing, Brooke, and we’re going to win”
“And what if we can’t?” I whisper, our roles once again reversed. Lucas kisses my cheek “but we will”.