“Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.”—Ray Bradbury
“HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN feeling like this, Angie?”
Long enough for me to finally get my butt here.
I hate doctors. Motivating me to finally go to see someone is like getting a bill through Congress. I’m stubborn, but more than that . . . I’m scared. My two cousins battled cancer in their early thirties, and my mom is an ovarian cancer survivor. Each time I have to go for a checkup, I end up convincing myself I’ll be next.
It’s crazy and irrational, but it’s a genuine fear of mine. I remember the hell they all went through.
“I don’t know. A few months . . .” I got a crazy cold when I got back from visiting my sister-in-law, Presley, two months ago. Her now fiancé asked me to come when he knew he was going to propose. Even with my deep hatred of flying, I went. I knew it meant a lot to her and my insanely amazing nephews. Although, I never need an excuse to go see them. Cayden and Logan are the closest things I’ll ever have to kids. I spoil the crap out of them, and hate that I barely see them now.
But my brother made that my reality when he chose to leave this world two years ago.
“What other symptoms do you have?” the older doctor asks me.
I pull my long blonde ponytail to the side and start to play with it as I run through the laundry list of ailments. He doesn’t need to hear about how Presley threatened to kill me herself if I didn’t get checked, so I leave it out. It’s all minor stuff, but it’s affecting the way I live. This week was the worst. I went from vomiting to feeling like I was going to die. I’d had enough.
“Let’s do some blood work, get a urine sample, and see what the results bring. In the meantime, I’m going to look you over.”
The exam doesn’t last long, but since I’m very tender, I spend the few minutes debating whether to kick him as he hems and haws. I hate when doctors do that. Either clue me in or shut up. It’s annoying. He finishes looking at everything, and the nurse enters with the vials to collect blood.
The second most dreaded thing.
“Hi, Angie.” The nurse smiles. “I’m Nicole, and I’ll be drawing some blood.”
I return her smile and nod.
“If I remember correctly, you own For Cup’s Cake?” she asks.
“I do.” I can’t help but grin. I love my cupcake store, which is thriving like crazy lately. One of the local news channels stopped in about six months ago, ran a big story on it, and it changed my world. I’ve brought in a new partner to help with all the adjustments, and we’re talking about opening a second location. Never in a million years did I think that it would be like this.
Presley and I had an idea that we should open the store, thinking that maybe it would give her something to do while Todd worked insane hours as a finance guru. It seemed like fun. And it was. Until Todd’s suicide wrecked everything we had built. The store was barely four months old, the company had no money, and Presley lost everything.
I bought her out, even though the business was worth next to nothing, and she left for Tennessee.
“I love it there,” Nicole admits. “My dress size doesn’t, but everything is so good. And different. How do you stay so thin?”
I snort. “I wish you could see how much I weighed before the store. I’ve put on a good amount. I can’t seem to help myself with the tasting.”
“Well, I can’t blame you.” She focuses on filling the vials.
Huh. I didn’t even realize she pricked me.
“Our head baker is amazing. And she doesn’t tell me or my partner, Erin, what the next day’s flavors will be. It used to drive me insane. Now it’s kind of fun. We go into work and she’s already redecorated the menu with the flavors of the day.”
We chat a little more before Nicole puts the bandage around my arm and leaves.
I grab my phone and text Presley.
Me: I hate the damn doctor.
Presley: Stop being a baby. You probably just need an antibiotic because you refused to go a month ago. Not everything is fixable with Motrin.
Me: Whatever. I just remember this is how Mom started. One minute, she was run down, and the next, it was cancer.
I sigh and fight back the tears. I was fifteen and remember each time she came back from chemotherapy. She was sick, tired, and literally pumped with poison. She had that look in her eyes when she’d glance at me or my brothers. It was a single moment, but it said so much about the reason she kept fighting. Until her fight was over. Then she no longer held the affection I once saw.
I don’t want to ever be like her. I don’t have anything to fight for.