Always: Broken Series Book Four (10 page)

BOOK: Always: Broken Series Book Four
10.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

up in a hospital bed and looked and saw everyone who loved me. It was such a strange thing, going into surgery. They told me to count backwards from 100, which I did, and the last thing I remember was floating. That was the only word for it – floating. Then, just like that, I was in a hospital bed with a shit-ton of people surrounding me. Not just mom and dad and Olivia and Chloe, but also Uncle Ryan and Aunt Iris, and my two step-sisters, April and Charlotte. Uncle Jack was also there, along with Zane and Daniel.

“Hey,” I said to everyone. I felt completely out of it. My right leg was throbbing, though. Absolutely throbbing. “I need some painkillers.”

Mom came over to me. “Honey, we’re so happy that you're awake.” She didn’t look very happy, though. There was something wrong – that much I could tell. Mom was never one to hide the way that she was feeling.

“What’s going on? Why are there so many people here?”

Mom started to wring her hands and Chloe started to cry. Dad put his arm around Chloe, and ushered her out the door. At that point, I started to feel really weird. My heart started to pound and I felt completely shaky. “Mom, what’s going on?”

She looked around. “I called the doctor. He was here a second ago. He just left to run to an emergency after he brought you out of sedation.

“That didn’t exactly answer my question.” I looked at everyone and nodded at Ryan and Iris and April and Charlotte. “It’s good to see you guys.” I looked back at mom. “Answer my earlier question.”

It was then that I put my hand on my right leg. It was throbbing so much that I tried to massage it. My heart started to beat out of my chest as I realized that the lower part of my leg was missing.

And it all became clear.

I suddenly became enraged. Everyone was there, looking at me with pity, and I suddenly knew why. I suddenly knew why it was so important that everybody in the world had to show up right there in my hospital room. Everyone and their brother and sister was there, and I knew why.

“I’d like everyone to leave,” I said. “And I need to see that doctor right now. Right fucking now.”

I glared at everyone, one by one, letting them know with my eyes that they weren’t welcome. I had no idea why I was so angry. I only knew that I was.

Everyone left but mom. She stayed next to my bed and held my hand. “Mom, I said everyone and I mean everyone. Out now.”

“Honey, I’ll find that doctor.” She looked around the room, as if she expected the doctor to magically appear at any second.

At that point, dad showed back up without Chloe. He took mom’s arm and whispered something to her.

“Mom, I told you to leave. I want you and dad out of here. And I want to see that doctor. Yesterday!” I crossed my arms in front of me.

Dad took mom’s arm and literally dragged her out of the room. “Nick, let me go!” she said to dad. “My baby needs me. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She’s in pain and scared and I can’t leave until that goddamned doctor can get back here and talk to her.”

Dad spoke to mom in a low voice and continued to drag her out of the room. Chloe was right behind them.

After everyone left, I started to cry. Obviously something went wrong, but I couldn’t fucking believe how it happened. I mean, I went into surgery thinking that I was going to come out of it with two legs. That doctor almost assured me that would be the case. Nobody told me that they could just take my leg without telling me about it. I figured that if the surgeon was going to take my leg that they would do it in a different surgery. You know, prepare me and everything. But no. Apparently the doctor thought that it was going to be just fine to go ahead and chop off my leg without telling me or preparing me or anything.

To say that I was pissed understated the matter.

Five minutes later, give or take, the doctor finally showed up. “Dr. Jensen,” I said, “what happened? Why do I not have a leg? You told me that you were going to cut out the tumor and that I’d be back on the soccer field. Yet I wake up and there’s no leg. Leg gone. What happened?”

“I’m very sorry, but there were complications. The cancer was more widespread than I had originally thought. When I performed the surgery, I unfortunately found that the cancer had invaded your muscle tissue and surrounding areas. Amputation was the only option at that point.”

“Dr. Quack.” I started to flap my arms like a duck and quacked. “Dr. Quack Quack.” I knew that I was being a brat and disrespectful, but I didn’t care. “Why didn’t you explain to me that this was a possibility before I went under?”

Was I being unfair? The doctor had explained to me that amputation might be necessary. He did explain all that. It was just that I hadn’t planned on that happening to me. I hadn’t planned on the doctor finding out that the cancer had invaded other areas and that I would just wake up without a right leg. I mean, I had part of a right leg – the stump. I didn’t think that counted, though.

At that, Dr. Jensen took a seat next to me. “I’m very sorry, Addison. This is a complication that does occur. I know that I explained to you that there would be the possibility that amputation would be necessary. I’m very sorry that you weren’t more prepared for this eventuality. Please understand, though, that we had spoken at length about the possibility that this would happen.”

“Yes, but how did you not know that the cancer had invaded my muscles and stuff? Isn’t a doctor supposed to know that before he performs the surgery?”

“Addison, the cancer that was on your muscles and tendons was microscopic. It didn’t show up on the scans. You did understand that this was a possibility.”

I did understand. That was true. I just didn’t think that it was going to happen.

I swallowed hard and shook my head. This wasn’t happening. It wasn’t happening. How could this be happening?

“Addison, would you like to have your family back here?” the good doctor asked.

I nodded my head. I was starting to calm down, yet starting to feel completely defeated. Completely defeated. How could I wrap my head around what had happened to me?

One by one, each of the people who were around my hospital bed before filed back into the room. Mom came up to me and sat on the bed, putting her arm around me. “Honey, I’m so sorry that this happened. But the doctor said that, because your leg was amputated, you won’t have to go through chemo and radiation. Isn’t that wonderful?”

I nodded. “I would be a total freak if I lost all my hair, wouldn’t I?”

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly put it that way.”

“What way would you put it? I guess I do have to look at the bright side.” I was being sarcastic, because I had finally had enough. Enough. It had only been a matter of weeks since I went into that hospital to find out what was happening to me, but it had already felt like years and years. “Now I won’t be that freak with the bald head and no leg. What a relief.”

Olivia glared at me. “You’re being a total brat, do you know that? Listen, you’re going to live. You might not live the way that you want to, but you’re going to have every chance. Lots of people have lost a leg, not just you. And dad’s sister wasn’t as lucky as you are. Think about that.”

April, my step-sister who was the most level-headed of the bunch, put her arm around Olivia. “You’re not helping.”

I reached out to touch April’s arm. “Actually, Olivia is helping. She’s right. I could be like Aunt Michelle.” I suddenly felt awful. “Who I never got to meet.”

Everything just hit me, and I started to cry. I was being a horrible person. I had to think about how lucky I was to be alive. How lucky I was to not have to go through chemo and radiation.

Then again, this whole situation reminded me of a line in
The Thornbirds,
which was an old, old mini-series that was a favorite of my mom’s, even though it was before her time, too. There was a scene where a great fire had wiped out everything and killed both the father and the brother of the main character, Meggie Cleary. When she got angry with God, the good priest Ralph, who was soon to be her lover, told Meggie to look at the bright side. God spared a rose, and sent the rain that put out the fire. God was good.

Then Meggie made the point that God had sent the fire to begin with.

That was how I felt, deep down. Yes, I was spared the horrors of radiation and chemo. Yes, it appeared, for now, that I wasn’t going to be headed for an early grave like poor Aunt Michelle. I guess that God was good there. But then again, God also gave me the cancer, so it was difficult to thank Him.

On the bright side, it appeared that I might, might, live long enough to send in audition tape to
Chopped Junior.
I had to hurry up and try to get on that show before I turned 16, and there was the possibility that my being one-legged might actually be a bonus. I’d have the right sob story to make it on there.

Was the trade-off worth it?

ater on that night
, after everyone went home except mom and dad, who were sleeping in two chairs next to my bed, it all hit me at once. I was different now. I would never be the same. Plus, I was going to feel like an absolute freak of nature. What would happen at school with the other kids? How would they treat me? I was never all that popular to begin with. I mean, I had friends and I played soccer, but I was never going to be homecoming queen, that was for sure. I imagined that if I was a popular girl, I could start a fashion trend with my…what? What clothes would I wear? Could I ever wear a skirt, ever? Or a dress? What would happen when I went to prom, assuming I would be invited?

So many questions.

Mom woke up and looked over at me. “Honey, you’re still awake. It’s 3 AM. Can’t you sleep at all?”

I shook my head and felt tears coming down my face. “I love you mom, and I’m sorry for being a bitch earlier. I think that I was just in total shock.”

Mom came over to me. “Can I hold you?”

I nodded and she climbed up on the bed with me.

I put my head on her shoulder and cried for what seemed like hours.


he next day
, it all hit me like a ton of bricks. I only had one leg. I was going to have months, maybe years, of rehab in front of me. I had seen videos of warriors on television, trying to learn how to walk after their leg was blown off. I kinda knew what was in store for me.

What I didn’t anticipate was how much pain I was in. It felt like the leg was still there, and it felt like it was on fire. That was the only way to explain it - my right leg, below my knee, was on fire, even though it wasn’t there anymore. I didn’t want painkillers, because I was afraid of them. I knew how addictive they were, because I had a friend who started on painkillers for a bad back, and ended up addicted to heroin when the doctors wouldn’t give her more. So, when the doctor tried to put me on a painkiller, I said no.

“Dr. Jensen, I know that you’re looking out for me, but I don’t want any painkillers. I’ll take some aspirin, but none of those painkillers. I’ll suffer.”

And suffer I did, so bad that day that I cried all day. At least the physical pain took away from the emotional pain, though. That was worse. I felt like I was like nobody else in the world. I knew that wasn’t true, because lots of people lost their legs, but that wasn’t helpful to me right then. A freak is what I felt like.

All through the day, though, lots of people visited me from school. Janet, one of my best friends, came by, as did Tisha. Everyone on the soccer team came by, one by one, including my coach. Even Blake came by, to my huge surprise. That was the worst, really, because I could tell that he was turned off by how I looked. That just made me cry even more.

Tisha was actually the most comforting of the bunch. She was an expert in talking without addressing the elephant in the room, and, for some reason, that was what I wanted right then.

“So, I’m here to tell you all the latest gossip. You really have to get back to school. Everyone misses you.”

“I’ll be back. I mean, not today, of course. But as soon as I can. They’re going to put a new leg on me at some point, but they want to get me used to walking on crutches without a leg first.” I lowered my voice. “How weird is everyone going to treat me when I show up without a leg?”

Tisha shrugged. “Not weird at all. I know that you’re going to be self-conscious, but don’t be.” She shrugged her shoulders. “After Tina transitioned last year, she was so certain that everyone would just drop over dead when she showed up after her surgery, but nobody batted an eyelash. They won’t for you, either.”

Tina used to be Tony, and was a good friend of Tisha’s brother, Hank. Surprisingly, Hank and Tina are still the best of friends, showing how little people of my age really cared about such things.

“That’s a little different. I mean, Tina looks like a woman. She
a woman. Nobody would just look at her and think that she’s deformed or something. And she’s pretty hot at that. That’s different.”

“The point is, nobody cares about things like sex changes or missing legs or things like that. This is the 21st Century, and we’ve all evolved. Anyhow, like I said, I have gossip for you.”

As Tisha filled me in on all the happenings at school - this couple broke up, that couple got into a huge fight in the hallway, such and such was having a spat with so and so, I felt somewhat comforted. Was Tisha right? Would the kids not care about how I looked?

“And girl, Blake is really into you,” she said. “He’s been asking about you non-stop.”

“Ha. Well, he was here earlier, and he left pretty quickly. I don’t think that he’ll be back.”

Tisha raised her eyebrows. “Really? Huh.” Then she shrugged her shoulders. “Well, I’ll found out what’s going on with that. If he can’t handle your new figure, he can’t handle it. Who needs that or who needs him? Seriously.” She shook her head. “You’re still you. You’re still gorgeous. I mean, I’d kill for your rack and your hair. And your eyes. You’re not going to have a problem, trust me on that.”

I smiled. Tisha always did make feel better. “Really? You think that I’m that hot, do you?”

“Of course. If I swung that way, which I don’t, and you don’t either, but I’d do you. Leg or no leg.”

We chatted for several more hours, with me feeling better about my prospects. My “leg” was still on fire, and the pain was unbearable, but laughing with Tisha made me feel just a little bit better.

And I wanted to spend some time with Uncle Jack, without having mom around. So I called him and asked him to come, and to tell mom and dad to come and visit me later. I really enjoyed his company, too, and I always did. I knew, though, if he came with mom in tow, that I’d never get to actually talk to him, because mom would do all the talking.

Jack showed up with a big teddy bear in his arms. “I know that you’re not a little girl anymore, but I saw this and thought of you anyhow. So here you go.”

He handed me the bear, and I smiled at him. “Aw, thanks,Uncle Jack. And thanks for coming to see me.”

“Anytime, little sprout. Anytime.” He patted my left leg. “So, tell me how I’m supposed to talk to you. You want me to be my normal self, or are you like really sensitive about certain issues?” He crossed his own legs daintily and put his hand on his chin and looked at me. He was dressed up in a blue satin suit that looked like it was a tuxedo, to my surprise.

“Jack, are you going somewhere tonight?”

Jack waved his hand at me dismissively. “Some kind of awards show, being with the muckety-mucks, you know how it is.” He rolled his eyes. “Rubber chicken and limp asparagus. Why they don’t get Gordon Ramsey to cater one of these things, I don’t know. I guess it’s because he’s like a million years old, but still. He’s still legendary, isn’t he?”

“Aw, Jack, you have to be at an awards ceremony and you stopped here first? You didn’t have to do that. You could’ve come tomorrow or something.”

“Don’t be silly. You called, I came. I figured it was important. Now, answer my earlier question.”

“Well, you can talk about my missing leg, if that’s what you mean.”

He lowered his eyes and raised his right eyebrow. “How are you feeling? I mean, that’s a stupid question, but I need to know. Anything you tell me I won’t tell your mom, pinky swear.”

“I don’t know. I mean, I got this pain where my limb used to be. I think that the doctor calls it phantom limb syndrome, where it feels like that limb is still there and it feels like it’s just on fire. And I’m not at all looking forward to rehab. I have to learn to walk all over again. It might take months to figure out how to walk right with my fake leg, when they get around to fitting it for me.”

Jack nodded his head. “Okay, but you’re not telling me anything. How are you feeling emotionally?”

I shrugged my shoulders, and, to my surprise, I started to cry. Jack put his arm around me and put my head on his shoulder.

“I guess that answers your question,” I said to him. “I’m not doing so great. But, then again, it’s kinda a shock that it happened the way that it did. I’m really sorry for being rude yesterday and throwing you out with everyone else. I mean, I shouldn’t have thrown anybody out, but you least of all.”

“We understood. We really did. You were feeling shitty and you wanted to talk to the doctor, and that was that. Listen, you can call me and talk to me anytime. I hope that you know that. I might not know what it’s like to have a missing limb, but I do know what it’s like to be different. To feel different. Remember, I grew up during a time when it wasn’t so great to be gay and fabulous. And look at me now.” He smiled, showing his perfect teeth.

“Do you think people are going to be weird around me?”

“They might be,” Jack said. “But everyone will get used to it. And to you. And I know you. You’re strong and you’re a fighter. You’ll kick their ass with your good leg, and that will be that.”

I had to laugh at that one.
Kick their ass with my good leg.
“Thanks for coming to see me, Jack. I really needed your straight talk. I’m feeling kinda insecure about all of this, but you and Tisha seem to think it’s going to be okay. I hope that you guys are right.”

“Well, there’s not much I can do about that pain you have in your phantom limb. But, as I said, if you ever need to talk to me about feeling like the other, than I’m the guy for you. I’ve seen it all, and I could tell you stories about it all. There’s lots of people just like you out in the world, and they live normal, healthy lives.”

Jack hung out for about a half hour more before he had to leave for his ceremony. “Well, I gots to go.”

“You do. Where are you going, anyhow? What ceremony?”

Jack shrugged. “The Tony Awards. I’m up for something.”

I laughed. “Oh my god. You didn’t tell me that you were going to the biggest ceremony there is. How come mom never told me you were up for something?”

Jack laughed and put his hand on my shoulder. “Oh, did I mean I was up for something? I meant up to something. I’m going to be a presenter, that’s all.” He winked. “Next year, though, I’ll be up for something. Maybe win. I hope so. That’s definitely on my bucket list.”

I smiled. “Aren’t you a bit young for a bucket list?”

“You never know when you’ll be hit by a bus.”

I had to laugh at Jack using my exact logic for everyone making a bucket list. “True that. Well, I hope to see you around more often. I’ll need all the support I can get.”

“You can count on me, of course, love.” He kissed me on the forehead. “Well, I really gotta go. God knows they won’t be able to present the award for best lighting design without me. By the way, how do I look? I’m going for retro yet sexy.” He opened his mouth like he was roaring, and scratched the air with his hand, like he was a lion batting his prey. That gesture always made me laugh.

“Well, you certainly succeeded. Retro yet sexy is exactly how I would say that you look. By the way, a blue tuxedo….” I nodded my head and made the thumbs up sign. “Totally aces.” He really did look nice in it. It was a midnight blue, so you could barely tell that it wasn’t a regular black tux unless you got up really close. I figured that the audience would think that his tux was slightly different, but not really know exactly why.

Jack laughed. “Well, toodles, little one. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

Jack left, and I called mom.

“Honey,” she said, picking up. “I’ve been waiting for your phone call. Can dad and I come on up?”

“Sure, come on up.” Then I immediately changed my mind. “Actually, could you come tomorrow? I’m pretty tired.”

“Sure, whatever you want.”

I got off the phone and turned on the television. This was the first moment that I had to myself, and I really let it sink in. This was my life. Limbless.

And the tears came and wouldn’t stop.

BOOK: Always: Broken Series Book Four
10.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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