The next few hours were a blur of activity. Kayla reported to her floor early, apology in hand, but the nurses set right to getting her ready. Danny was scooted away to a waiting area, with a promise he could come back once she was settled in.
“I want him here,” Kayla insisted to anyone who would listen, suddenly feeling alone. She wished she had called her mother, then took it back, then fretted again. What if things didn’t go well? Who would call her?
She shook the thought from her head. This treatment might not make her any better, but it wouldn’t kill her. The worst she could tell her mom is that she gave it one last shot and it didn’t work.
Maybe she should have called Becky. She would have dug into the treatment, being such a medical drama geek. Hey, maybe she could be the “House” disease.
The thought cheered her — marginally. Just as she was starting to push a button to call a nurse to beg for Danny again, he walked into the room.
“Hey,” she said, a tear rolling down her cheek from stress and relief.
“Hey,” he replied, wiping it away. “I brought a notebook.”
“Cool,” she said, nodding. “I need a stenographer.”
Just then her doctor walked in and she peppered him with questions, turning to Danny occasionally to make sure he was writing enough. Yes, all the other patients still were alive. Yes, Danny could stay with her after the treatment. No, she couldn’t leave the hospital or a few days.
“Not at all?” she asked. “Not even for a walk?”
“Maybe the courtyard,” he replied. “Let’s see how you feel. You might be more tired than you expect.”
That wasn’t good news. She was tired of being tired. Still, it beat one of the alternatives.
“Time to go,” her doctor said. “You can stay in the waiting room,” he told Danny. “She’ll be done in a few hours, and we’ll have one of the volunteers bring you to her room.”
He nodded somberly, then smiled for Kayla. “See you in a few,” he said. “Maybe we can find a Major League Soccer match to watch.”
She rolled her eyes as he knew she would. She hated soccer. “‘What Not to Wear,'” she countered, and he grimaced. “Coin flip,” he said, and she nodded OK. She was trying to smile, but it kept fading.
“Promise to wait?” she asked.
“I promise,” he said. “I’m going to go get you a present, but I’ll be right back, and I’ll give the nursing supervisor my cell number.”
She frowned. “A present? I don’t need a present.”
“Presents aren’t things you need,” he said. “I promise I’ll be around when you wake up. OK?”
She nodded, losing another tear, and he collected it. The nurse looked to Kayla for approval, and she nodded, waving to Danny as she rolled away.
Kayla felt like she had slept for days. As promised, Danny was by her side, and he grinned when he saw her looking over at him.
“Hey there,” he said, stopping her hand gently when she went to move the oxygen mask aside. “Nuh-uh. That has to stay for a while. Your doctor said you hate them, and he said to tell you he said to leave it on. You can take it off at dinner.”
She looked around the bed, searching, and he handed her pen and paper. She nodded thanks.
“Nasal cannula,” she wrote, and Danny shook his head. “Sorry, no. Your immune system is going to be compromised, and they want you to have the oxygen. Argue with your doctor.”
She noticed then that he was wearing scrubs and paper booties. “Nice shoes,” she wrote.
“Why, thank you,” he said. “Be nice or you’ll have to eat off the hospital menu.”
She raised an eyebrow at that. “No green Jell-O?” she wrote.
He grinned. “No. Your doc said if you had to put up with this nonsense, the least he could do was let you eat decently. So I have croissants and capicolla and fresh Parmesan, whenever you’re up to it.”
She pulled the mask off. She tried to speak but couldn’t, and reached for the water. Taking a few long drags, she said, “Now is good.”
“You’re hungry now? It’s 2:30.”
“I didn’t have lunch,” she reminded him. “You said I could take the mask off to eat, and I want the mask off, therefore I want to eat. Besides,” she added, looking apologetic, “they said this might make me really sick, and I’d rather have food in my system than have dry heaves.”
Danny made a face. “I’d have gotten cheaper cheese if I’d known that,” he said. “Come on, kidding,” he added at her frown. “You want caviar to hurl, I’ll get it for you. Only the best.”
Kayla laughed, and he smiled at the sound. “I hate caviar,” she confessed. “But I love capicolla.”
“I know,” he said, pulling a bag from behind his chair and piling ingredients on the tray table. A selection of tiny mustards and two bottles of juice joined the array.
“This is my present, then?” Kayla asked. “Excellent.”
Danny shook his head. “Nope. This is,” he said, pulling a small box out of his pocket and placing it close to her hand.
She looked startled, but not upset. “Open it,” he told her.
The final chapter is guided by these answers:
Does Danny ask Kayla to marry him?
68 votes went like this:
Yes: 69.12 percent (47 votes)
No: 30.88 percent (21 votes)
If he does ask her, what does she say?
65 votes went like this:
Yes: 52.31 percent (34 votes)
She doesn’t know right now: 43.08 percent (28 votes)
No: 4.62 percent (3 votes)
This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.