Important Note to Reader: If you’re just tuning in you’ll want to click HERE to read Pick-A-Path sections 1, 2, and 3 first.
So this week was a little tricky. On Tuesday at midnight the votes were tied at three votes for Path A and three votes for Path B. There was what would have been a tie breaking vote cast, but it was cast on Wednesday evening, so in keeping with the rules, I couldn’t whole heartedly take Path A. So below is what I came up with. Here we go…
Although it passed more slowly than most, the mundane events of that day were carbon copies of all the days before it. Lori cleaned house and did laundry. She ran to the grocery for milk and bread. She took the dog for a walk. It wasn’t until she met the mail man at the end of their driveway that she realized that tomorrow would be the last morning Jimmy would be able to wake up without the burden of his death sitting like a rock in his stomach. She’d decided she would tell him after all the decisions about the ball park had been made. Now all that was left to do was find the will to tell him and the words.
She would sit him down and tell him that the test results had come back and it wasn’t what they’d initially thought.
She’d spent most of the afternoon in the internet researching the words printed on the prescription pad. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia was the most common cancer in children and about eighty-five percent survived five or more years, however, adults were a different story. It was extremely rare for an adult to be diagnosed with ALL and even though most all of them would go into remission at some point, so far as she could see, less than half of them survived.
She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes and the tears that she’d been fighting to contain for over twenty-four hours broke free. She cried heaving sobs that met no resistance, and without regard for who or what could hear. She cried till she couldn’t breathe and her stomach ached. She held the paper from Dr. Walters so tight in her fist that it felt like it may disintegrate under the pressure. And when her voice was horse and her tears had run dry, she was exactly where she’d started; only now she was numb and cold in the quiet of their empty home.
She started the water for a bath and lit the candles that rested on a small table beside the claw foot tub. She made her way through the house turning off lights and closing the blinds to shut out the last moment s of that evening’s sunset.
She set the crumbled paper on her dresser and noticing that the blue ink had bleed through from the sweat from her hand; she took the paper and shoved it into her pants pocket.
She turned to cross their bedroom and with each step she took towards the bathroom she lightened her load. First the right sneaker and sock, then the left. Her favorite blue jeans were next, followed by a short sleeved tee-shirt and then the long sleeved one underneath. When she reached the door to the bathroom, a trail of discarded clothing lay in her wake and she stood in her bra and panties with the flickering candle light dancing across her skin.
At the same time she was adding lavender salt to the heat of the water Jimmy, under the noise of the running bath water eased through the door between the garage and house with their sleeping child in his arms.
He set J.J. gently into bed and had to stop for a moment resting his hand on the dresser while he caught his breath before dressing him in the pajamas Lori had laid out.
He moved down the hall and into their bedroom and could see the back of her in the bathroom mirror as she slid into the bath.
Her hair was pinned off her neck in an intricately effortless twist and he took in each curve of her slender body as it slid deeper into the water. He couldn’t take his eyes off her as he blindly collected the clothing from the floor and dropped it into the basket in the corner. He tucked her sneakers under the bed and folded her jeans and set them on her dresser never noticing the crumpled paper that fell from the pocket to rest inside her shoe.
He eased into the armchair in the corner and watched her reflection as she traced the line of each leg with a small pink sponge and breathed in the intoxicating smell that hung in the air.
When she emerged from her bath he was so close to sleep that it felt like a dream when she came to rest beside him and then over top of him. He could have been dreaming when she finally led him to bed, and it could have been in his dreams that she pressed herself so close to him that he could feel the rhythm of her breathing and the thumping of her heart on his skin.
He woke what felt like moments later to the sounds of her moving about the bedroom. When he opened his eyes light from the windows poured in to greet him.
“Morning” he said.
“Morning” she said pulling a sweater over her head and pulling her long honey colored hair from inside. “Did you sleep okay?”
“It was alright” he said pushing himself up and off the edge of the bed. “I dreamed that you let me watch you take a bath, and then…” he paused and smiled lifting his eyebrows.
She turned to face him while she slid small silver hoop earrings into each ear “Thin what?” she asked grinning back at him.
At that moment, J.J. pushed into the room rubbing his eyes. “Are you up yet?” he said making a bee line to Lori’s leg and clinging tight to it.
Jimmy grinned and mouthed the words “…we did it!” and winked at her.
With a laugh she smoothed the hair on J.J.’s head and said “Yeah we’re up baby, just getting ready to run some errands.” She lifted him onto the bed. “You’re gonna stay here with Daddy.”
“But I wanna go with you“ he said attempting to crawl to the edge of the bed.
Jimmy lifted him into his arms. “Nope, you get to hang here with me buddy”.
“But I wanna go” he cried resting his head on Jimmy’s shoulder.
“I know” he said patting his back as he watched her search for something. “What ya hunting Granger?”
“My shoes” she said pushing the closet door closed.
“There under the foot of the bed” he said setting J.J. down.
J.J. yanked the sneakers from under the bed and Jimmy reached down to retrieve a small folded paper that had fallen from inside one of the shoes.
She turned to take the shoes from J.J. and as though in slow motion saw him unfolding the paper, and read the hand words written on Dr. Walters’s letter head. He looked to her for an explanation but all he found in her fear stricken face was truth.
Note to Reader: It’s your turn again Use the comments section to let me know which path to choose. You have till Midnight on Tuesday August 25th to pick-a-path.
Path A: Even though Jimmy’s cancer is at an extremely advanced stage he will decide to fight it.
Path B: Jimmy will choose not to fight the cancer and live what time he has left.Till next time,