CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY-TWO
“Is awful,” Sandy said. “The nurses all know who and what I am.”
Blane put his warm hand over hers.
“I’m going to put some needles in,” Blane said. “Okay?”
“If you think it will help,” Sandy’s skeptical voice made him smile.
“Here, you can help me,” he said. “Just open the end of these. Like this.”
He opened the end of the sealed package of disposable acupuncture needles. Sandy tried one and he nodded. While Sandy’s attention turned to opening the packages, he began inserting the needles.
“You and I have a lot in common,” Blane said.
“How so?” Sandy asked.
“We have similar histories,” Blane said. “We’ve been publicly humiliated. We live off the kindness of relative strangers and not real family. A lot of people depend on us to hold their kite strings. And right now, we both need other people to help us get better.”
He took the packages from her and gave her another set.
“That’s a lot of needles,” she said.
“Yep,” Blane said. “It’s horrible for me to think that someone will give up their liver to help me.”
“But you have to do it!” Sandy said. “You have a child and…”
“So do you,” he said. “Jill says you won’t accept her help.”
“You’re fighting this treatment,” he said.
“Jill doesn’t need to be worrying about me,” Sandy said.
“She has a gift,” Blane said. “Why not let her help you?”
Sandy crossed her arms. He smiled and continued putting in needles. When he finished, he took the chair Aden had been sitting in.
“We wait about twenty minutes now,” Blane said. “How do you feel?”
“Tired,” Sandy said.
“I bet,” he said. “This should help you sleep. You didn’t answer my question.”
“I did so,” Sandy said. “You asked how I felt, and I told you.”
“The other question,” he said. “Why won’t you let Jill or me help you?”
“I don’t know,” Sandy said. “It always feels like people are so stretched and I’m just stealing from them.”
“Huh,” Blane said. “Very altruistic. I thought it was because you weren’t sure what you’d owe someone if they helped you. I had a foster father who used to say ‘Every thing has to be paid for.’ It totally sucked when the bill was due.”
Sandy reached out to hold his hand. He smiled at her. Their eyes held in understanding.
“You know Jill better than any person on the planet. What could Jill possibly want as payment?”
Sandy shook her head. She opened her mouth to defend her position. Seeing the understanding on his face, she closed her mouth.
“I’ll make you a deal,” Blane said. “I’ll help you receive help and get well, if you help me receive help and get a new liver.”
“Please don’t tell Heather,” Blane said. “She’s everything to me and she…”
“It’s our secret deal,” Sandy said.
“Secret deal,” Blane said.
Sandy held her hand out. They solemnly shook hands. Blane stood to take out the acupuncture needles. She was asleep when he finished. He touched her shoulder in good bye and she opened her eyes.
“Thanks,” she said.
“I’ll hold you to your promise.”
He opened his mouth to say something else but she was out. He met Aden down the hall. The men talked for a moment, then Aden returned to Sandy’s room. Seeing she was asleep, he ate her ice cream and settled in on the cot.
One day down. Rachel was one day older and stronger. And Sandy was stronger. Closing his eyes, Aden was simply grateful for the one day he’d had.
Denver Cereal continues on Monday…