Read 31 Days of Autumn Online

Authors: C.J. Fallowfield

31 Days of Autumn (7 page)

‘I won’t, James, thank you.’

‘I’ll come and get the door for you,’ he
nodded, sliding the screen back up. Molly and I looked at each other with a nod
and a sigh, preparing for the worst.

‘Brooke, sweetie, it’s time to wake up.
Brooke?’ Molly leaned over and gently shook Brooke’s arm.

‘What, huh, what?’ she groaned, half opening
her eyes.

‘Promise me you won’t be mad?’ Molly pleaded as
Brooke rubbed her face.

‘Mad at what? Have you brought me to the bloody
DIY store again? You know I hate that place. I swear, if I have to look at one
more floating bloody shelf, to hold your smelly Yankee doodle fucking dandy candles
you love so much, I’ll toss them all out.’

‘So, if we’re not at the DIY store, you won’t
shout at me?’ Molly tested. I had my fingers curled tightly around the seat
belt over my stomach, bracing myself for Brooke’s reaction.

‘Sure, whatever. Let’s shop, but can we stop at
Starbucks first? I need a drink and something to eat already. I feel a bit
lightheaded.’

‘We’re at the doctors,’ Molly said as fast as
she could.

‘O no, Ellie, what’s wrong? Has it started?’
Brooke quickly flicked her eyes down to my skirt, presumably checking that my
waters hadn’t broken. Molly grimaced and looked at me for support, as James
opened the door for us.

‘There’s nothing wrong with me, Brooke. We’re
here for you. You’ve lost weight, you’re tired all the time, and you look pale.
As funny as you peeing your pants on a regular basis is, it’s not normal. I
know Molly’s been asking you to go to the doctors for a while, so today we’ve
made you an appointment and we’re not taking any arguments, you’re going in.’

‘You both lied to me?’ she gasped, looking out
of the window.

‘Don’t get mad, sweetie, we’re worried sick
about you.’

‘Don’t get mad? Don’t get fucking mad?! I told
you there’s nothing wrong with me, I told you I didn’t want to go, and now
you’re ganging up on me?’ she bit, snapping her head around to fix us both with
her fiercest pissed-off glare.

‘Sweetie, please,’ Molly pleaded.

‘Don’t
sweetie
me, Molly. How would you
like it if I forced you to do something you didn’t want to do?’ she scowled,
raising her voice a few octaves. Molly gave me a shake of her head, with a look
of despair on her face as tears flowed down her cheeks again.

‘Don’t shout at her, Brooke. She loves you and
she’s been worried sick about you for ages. I only found out last night and I couldn't
sleep for worrying either. Enough is enough. Just go and see the doctor,
please.’

‘It’s my life and my decision. I’m fine, it’s just
that I’m tired, that’s all. I’m not going to be forced into something I don’t
want to do,’ Brooke muttered, her tone full of her usual stubbornness.

‘I get that you’re scared, Brooke, that maybe
you think not knowing what’s wrong is better than having to face reality, but
you’re being selfish. It’s not just about you, it’s about Molly and all the
people who love you, too. How do you think we’re going to feel if there’s
something seriously wrong with you and we did nothing to try and help? Why are
you so frightened of dealing with this?’

‘I’m
not
frightened,’ she yelled, giving
me her best attempt at another scowl, but I could see through all of her
bravado. It was a complete front.

‘Well I
am
, Brooke!’ yelled Molly back,
raising her voice uncharacteristically. I’d never seen her lose her temper. ‘I
can’t go through any more sleepless nights, looking up your symptoms and being
scared to death when bladder cancer keeps popping up. I’m bloody terrified of
losing you. If you’re scared of facing a diagnosis because you think I’ll walk
away from you, you don’t know me very well. I’m your wife, I’m in this
relationship for life. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health,
that’s what I promised you on our wedding day and I meant it. If you’re sick,
we’ll face it together. I’m not going anywhere.’

‘Neither am I,’ I interjected, as Brooke’s
bottom lip started to wobble. ‘We both love you, Brooke. You need to think
about how your actions are affecting us. Your appointment’s in five minutes and
I’ll be damned if you’re not going to it.’

‘I’ll carry you in kicking and screaming if
needs be, Mrs. Hanson,’ came James’s voice from outside of the limo, showing
his support and fondness for her, too.

‘What if I have cancer and it’s too late,’
Brooke whispered, her eyes filling with tears as the fear on her face suddenly
became easy to read. ‘I’m not stupid, I’ve looked up my symptoms and saw the
same information. I don’t want to know. I don’t want to be told when I’m going
to die. How am I supposed to live on a countdown, knowing I only have months,
weeks, or days left with you both? That I’ll miss seeing Oliver, Jonas, and Eva
grow up?’ I swallowed hard. Molly was in tears, Brooke was now in tears, and
someone, other than James, had to stay in control here.

‘If it was the worst news, we’d make it the
best countdown of your life, Brooke. We’d get drunk whenever you wanted, eat
junk food every day, visit all the countries and places you’ve never been and
want to. You and Molly would pack in work and come and live with Dan and I, so
we could spend every moment together and we’d laugh every single day. But it’s
not going to come to that. If it is cancer and we’ve caught it in time, you’ll
see the best specialist and get the best treatment and care, and Molly and I
are going to be with you every single step of the way. And once you’re better,
we’re going to live like you
were
on a countdown, because life is too
damn short!’ I broke off my impassioned speech as I heard the tremor in my
voice. I was so close to cracking. Life without Brooke was just unimaginable.

‘Well said, Mrs. Davenport. Now, am I carrying
Mrs. Hanson in, or will she go willingly? Because otherwise she’ll miss the
appointment,’ James reminded us. Molly wiped her eyes as she gave Brooke a
pleading look. Brooke took a deep shaky breath and looked over at me. I gently
nodded.

‘You’ll never be alone, Brooke Hanson. I may
not be your wife, but you’re stuck with me, too, as well as all of my family,
for life, ok? Are we going to do this together or what?’

‘What if I’m not strong enough to handle this?’
she whispered, looking completely broken.

‘Then we’ll share some of our strength with
you. Brooke, please. If you miss this appointment, it’s another night’s worry
and speculation for all of us. It’s better to know, then we can make a plan of
action.’

‘Ellie’s right, sweetie. I can’t do this
anymore, I need to know,’ Molly whimpered, blowing her nose loudly.

‘I’m sorry,’ Brooke sniffed. ‘I didn’t realise
how much it was affecting you all.’

‘You really are stupid!’ I uttered with a
disbelieving shake of my head. ‘Now move it, or James is going to drag you in
there kicking and screaming.’

‘Ok, ok, I’ll go,’ she sighed. Molly burst into
tears again and threw her arms around Brooke’s neck.

‘Thank you.
Thank you
.’

‘You won’t be thanking me when I’m fucking bald
and puking and have bottom incontinence as well,’ Brooke stated, hugging her
back tightly. I finally managed a small smile. There was my tough cookie
Brooke. That was the side of her that we needed to get through this. I waited
while they both got out. James offered his hand to me, which I took, needing
all the help I could get, but my legs gave way under me as the realisation that
Brooke really might be seriously ill hit me. If it was cancer, there was a real
possibility that no matter how skilled the specialist was, we might lose her. James,
ever on the ball, caught me immediately.

‘Ellie?’ Brooke queried, wiping her face.

‘I think Mrs. Davenport needs to sit down. Why
don’t you both go and see the doctor and I’ll wait with her in the car?’ James
suggested, as he supported me with one arm around my waist.

‘I can’t not go with them,’ I protested, but I
felt lightheaded and so sick.

‘You’ve gone really pale, Ellie,’ Molly nodded.
‘You wait here, I promise I’ll go in with her and ask lots of questions.
There’s nothing else that you can do now that she’s agreed to be seen.’

‘Brooke,’ I sighed, looking over at her. She
nodded and stood as tall as she could with a look of determination on her face.

‘Molly’s right. Stay with James. I’ll see you
soon, unless I’m given one minute to live, in which case it’s been nice knowing
you.’

‘Brooke,’ I scolded, slapping her arm. Molly
burst into tears again.

‘If I can’t live in denial, then I’m going to
get through this with my bloody sense of humour, ok?’ She kissed Molly and
offered her another tissue, then quickly hugged me. ‘Thank you,’ she whispered
gratefully. I nodded and watched them walk in through the car park entrance
hand in hand. As soon as they disappeared through the door, I burst into tears.

‘Now, now, Mrs. Davenport. Don’t get yourself
stressed, not on my watch, or Mr. Davenport will fire me. Come and sit back
down,’ James suggested, handing me a tissue. I tried to thank him, but no words
were forming in my mouth. He helped me back into the limo and surprised me by
climbing in next to me and shutting the door, then putting his arm around my
shoulder. I smiled at him through my tears and rested my head on his shoulder,
letting out a heavy sigh. We didn’t say a word as we waited, there wasn’t much
we could say. The outcome of this appointment could change all of our lives
forever and I just needed to know. I ran through my checklist of last minute to-do
items before we left for the hospital making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.
I already knew I hadn’t, but it was all I could think of to distract me from
the very real possibility of losing her. It felt like we’d been waiting forever
when I felt James stir.

‘They’re coming back,’ he said quietly, his
eyes trained out of the window.

‘How does she look?’ I asked, quickly sitting
up and trying to see for myself.

‘Pissed off,’ he stated factually.

‘No,’ I groaned, dread flooding my system and
making my stomach twist in agonising knots.

‘Don’t jump to conclusions. That’s her face
when food’s not served on time as well,’ he reminded me with a smile.

‘Thank you, James, for everything,’ I stated
sincerely, squeezing his hand.

‘Mr. Davenport told me to look after you as if
I were him.’

‘Does that include getting me pregnant again?’
I winked. James spluttered and went bright red, then quickly leapt out of the
limo and held open the back door for Molly to get in, followed closely by
Brooke. He shut the door, leaving us to talk in private. I took a deep breath
and looked up at Brooke’s face. ‘So?’

‘My life’s over,’ she sighed, shaking her head.

‘You really have cancer?’ I choked. My heart
sank as my battle to maintain my strong front totally disintegrated and I
started sobbing.

‘O, shit, no! Sorry, Ellie,’ Brooke uttered,
scooting down next to me and pulling me into a hug. ‘They think I’m diabetic.
It just means I’m going to have to cut
way
back on alcohol and sugary
and carbified treats. I might need to take tablets, too.’

‘Brooke,’ I moaned, smacking her arm. ‘I really
thought you were dying.’

‘It feels like it, if I can’t have my bloody
champagne. You know how much I love it,’ she pouted.

‘Are you sure it’s not cancer?’ I asked,
looking over at Molly for confirmation.

‘Nothing’s certain until she has more tests,
but she had a blood sugar one done and it was too high. She has to go back for
a fasting blood test in the morning and when those results are in, they’ll know
for sure if it’s diabetes. If it is, she’ll have to see a specialist to discuss
diet and lifestyle.’

‘But how can they be sure it’s not cancer?’ I
asked, still not convinced.

‘I’ve had no blood in my urine, the urine and
blood prick test showed high levels of glucose, and he did a vaginal and rectal
exam and found no lumps,’ Brooke advised, rubbing my arm as she tried to reassure
me. ‘Honestly, the first time I get touched up by a guy in years and I barely
even felt the prick,’ she giggled as she shoulder-bumped me, finally making me
crack a smile.

‘Well, if it is diabetes, we’ll get you the
best specialist and if you need a nutritionist to work with you to sort out a
healthy diet, we’ll do that. You don’t need to worry about anything, ok?’ I
squeezed her hand, feeling a little better given what I’d just heard. I wasn’t
going to feel one-hundred percent happy until she’d had that blood test
tomorrow, though.

‘Thank you.’

‘You seem to be taking it quite well,’ I
observed, trying to dry my eyes with my soggy tissue.

‘Hey, an hour ago I thought I was dying,
anything else is a bonus, even if it means cutting back on my favourite treats.
Being around to have time with my family is more important.’ She squeezed my
hand and I nodded and took a deep breath to fully compose myself. ‘Are you ok?
You looked about to pass out earlier.’

‘I thought my best friend was dying, Brooke. It
was all a bit much.’

‘So, if I had been given a sentence, what
funeral songs would you have chosen?’

‘Sweetie,’ sighed Molly, shaking her head.
Brooke winked at me, she was just trying to cheer us up.

‘Well, as the guest of honour of this occasion,
I’d like to have Katy Perry,
Roar.
It reminds me of both of you,
especially our hen night. What about you, Ellie.’

‘I think Pink,
Get The Party Started,
’ I
suggested.

‘You’ve just lost your best friend and you’re
partying?’

‘You’re roaring! I was going to go with The Wizard
of Oz,
Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead
, but I thought Pink was a less risky
choice,’ I giggled, making her gasp in mock horror.

‘Be serious,’ she pouted.

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