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Authors: Regina Bartley

I Can't Die Alone

BOOK: I Can't Die Alone
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Copyright ©2016 Regina Bartley

All rights reserved

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity between actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Any use of locales or events is used fictitiously.

Cover Design and Photos By:  Regina Wamba of MaeIDesign and Photography 

Formatted by:  Ready, Set, Edit


To Jason

I love you more!

Chapter One 
The “C” Word

I hate hospitals. I hate how the room is always cold, how the pungent smell of cleaner gags me, and how the nurses are all waiting for the next shift change so they can get the hell out of there. I wished she’d take me with her. That young nurse who looked like she was leaving for the weekend, the one with the long painted fingernails, and bright pink lip-gloss. She seemed carefree as if she were about to leave work for a party or a girl’s night out. I’d kill for a girl’s night out. Hell, I’d kill for any kind of night out. Two nights lying in a hospital bed, was far too many.

“The doctor will be in soon, he’s making his rounds,” the young nurse spoke to me as she tightened the blood pressure cuff around my arm. 

They’d been saying that for the last three hours, but I hadn’t seen the doctor yet. 

“Are you sure there isn’t anyone you want us to call for you?” She asked. Once again she was barging into territory where she didn’t belong. It couldn’t be that rare for people to come into the hospital with no family or friends. 

I glared up at her with an aggravated look on my face. I wanted to tell her to stop asking. She was so pushy. 

Instead I replied through gritted teeth, “Positive.” 

She shrugged it off like my attitude was no big deal, and I hated her even more for it. 

Sure I wished that I had someone who would be there with me in my time of need, but there was no one. My mother had passed away nearly six months earlier, and my grandma was in a nursing home without any recollection of who I was or who she was for that matter. I couldn’t visit her much because her immune system was so low, and lately I’d been very sick. Just weeks ago I’d been to the doctor, but he’d brushed off my sickness as something viral and said that it would run its course. Unfortunately, it had run me into the ground instead. 


I’d passed out at work, and woken up inside a hospital room; a hospital room that smelled like death, and only a few bitchy nurses to keep me company. 

I turned over in the uncomfortable bed so that I could face the window. The evening light from the sun was setting and the dark clouds were taking over. No matter how dreary it looked outside I still would’ve rather been out there. I couldn’t rest. The pain in my stomach was keeping me doubled over, and any more encounters with these dingbat nurses and I’d need a sedative.

There was a light tap on the door, but I didn’t bother turning over. I stared off, lost in my own thoughts.

“Ms. Holt?” 

An elder man came into view from the edge of my bed. He was wearing a dress shirt and tie and had long white hair that touched his collar. His eyebrows were raised in question as if he needed me to verify my name. It was obviously written on the chart he was holding in his hands. 

Giving him a knowing look, I sighed. Hospitals brought out the worst in me. I was an evil wench. 

The man whom I assumed was the doctor scooted the chair over next to my bed, and sat down. 

“I’m Doctor Lincoln,” he proceeded. “I’ve come to talk to you about your test results. Doctor Andrews ordered a second, more detailed CT scan because of your inconclusive results from the first test. I can only assume he wanted to be certain of your diagnosis.” There was a slight clearing of his throat before he continued. “You have no next of kin listed on your admittance form. Is that correct?”

I nodded, shifting upward in my seat. Sitting too long in any direction usually caused me discomfort. 

“You know what’s wrong with me?” I asked. 

It was his turn to nod, and I could see the strain in his forehead. It was bad news, also known as the story of my life. 

I swallowed the golf ball size lump in my throat and waited for the worst. 

“Pancreatic Cancer.”

There may have been other words in his explanation but pancreatic cancer was all I’d heard. The “C” word had haunted me forever. It was the disease that took my Mother, and also my aunt.

Now me. 

If there were ever a time for me to panic, it was at that very moment. Only I couldn’t. I couldn’t do anything. There was no right thing that would take away the very wrong thing that was happening. The pit of my stomach felt like razor blades as it twisted up in knots. 

“I’m very sorry.” His calloused fingers touched my shoulder and my eyes flicked towards his face. “We should run a few more tests and get you started on an aggressive treatment plan. There is a great cancer center off the west exit of the hospital,” He explained.

“I know the place.” My voice sounded nothing like my own. It was laced with sorrow and hurt. I clenched my jaw and wiped the layer of sweat that gathered at the base of my neck.

The doctor glanced over his paperwork, scratching his head as if he’d written a math problem he couldn’t figure out. He studied it, flipping the pages up and down.

I adjusted myself in the bed and straightened the wires that were attached to my body in some way, shape or form. The room had grown ten times hotter, and my mind flooded with memories of the many times I’d taken my mom into that cancer center. She had cancer in her bladder, and stomach, and it didn’t take long for it to take over her body and run through her as rapid as a wildfire. She couldn’t beat it, and I knew I couldn’t either. I was no idiot. Pancreatic cancer was as good as a death sentence. 

Twenty years old. 

That’s all I was. 

“This is what we will do Ms. Holt,” the doctor stood up from his chair and the sound of his dress shoes made clanking noises as he paced the floor.

“Wait.” I hit the arrow up button on the side of the bed and it let out a loud motorized noise as the head of my bed began to rise up. “No plans.” I shook my head. “I don’t want any treatment, or cancer center. I don’t want to be sick from that stuff like my Mom was. I just want to go home with my cat.”

“But Miss Holt,” he interjected, but I waved my hand for him to stop.

“I know about this cancer Doctor. I know that I won’t survive.” I spoke, and it pained me to say the words. I’d gone through this twice now with family and I didn’t have the strength left to fight for myself. It was a fight that I wouldn’t win anyway.

He let my chart hang loosely at his side as he stared at me with a look that was anything but understanding. “The treatment could add months to your life.”

“Yeah,” I huffed. “Months of me trying to find a way back and forth to a treatment that’s going to make me sick and tired. I don’t have anyone else in my life, and I don’t want to spend what little time I have left in that building where I watched my Mom die.” 

The tears welled up in my eyes, but I held them off. 

He glanced at my chart again and sighed before running his hand roughly down the side of his face. “Without treatment, it’s likely that it will progress quickly inside you.”

“How long?” I asked. I wanted to know just how long I had before I’d die.

“I can’t say for certain, but I’d say you wouldn’t see your next birthday.” He choked up. 

I closed my eyes to keep from crying. My birthday was only three months away; my twenty-first birthday. 

He thought I wouldn’t live to see my twenty-first birthday, and he was probably right. 

“Are you sure this is what you want?” 

A tear fell freely down my cheek, and I nodded. “I’m sure. I would like it if you could give me something for the pain while I’m home, something good.” I smiled.

He gave me a half-hearted smile in return. “Okay,” he replied. “I would offer you the diet plan we have that is very helpful for cancer patients, but I think if I were you I’d eat what you love.”

I smiled back at him. “I plan to. Can I go home now?”

“I’ll sign the papers, and the nurse will be in to discharge you. I wish you well Tori, and if you change your mind I’ll set up a rapid fire plan for you.”

“Thank you.”

He hung his head as he left me in solitary confinement. The moment the door closed behind him I broke. I lost it completely. 

My heart ached, and felt heavy inside my chest as I cried. I was twenty years old, with no family, no friends, and a burden that I’d have to carry all by myself. 

I was going to die.

I sobbed into my hands and rocked back and forth in my bed. I was so afraid. 

So afraid…

I didn’t want to die alone. 

I couldn’t die alone.

I couldn’t. 

Chapter Two
Was it five minutes yet? 

There was a chill in the air as a dense clouded fog rolled over the sky. It was nearing nightfall and the wind had picked up. It felt like rain was coming.

Tucking a strand of my brown hair behind my ear, I watched as several people walked in and out of the sliding glass doors of the hospital. I didn’t want to make eye contact.  I didn’t want anyone to even notice that I was there perched against the bricks of the building. 

I remember my Mom used to say that no news was good news. And I wished that today had just been a dream, and that the doctor had never told me the bad news. I wanted the scenario to play out differently. I didn’t want to die.

Who wants to die?


So many horrible things rushed into my mind, leaving me even more flustered and saddened. 

I wiped the tears from under my eyes. 

I kept my eyes focused on my lap so that no one would see me. I must’ve looked pathetic sitting there all alone. 

Where was that damn cab? 

I’d been sitting outside the hospital for half an hour waiting for the taxi to come pick me up. Our small town didn’t have very many cabs. Not like Charlotte. The big city had them on every corner. I never used to mind the wait much, but I was more than ready to go home. I wanted my own bed, and my cat Duncan. Poor thing was probably wondering where his Mommy was. 

Ugh… More tears.

The sound of distant talking could barely be heard above my sniffles. I rubbed my hands along my jean-clad legs and paced until the cab finally showed up. It came to an abrupt stop in front of the hospital and I couldn’t get in fast enough.  

“East Oak Apartments on Fleming,” I told the driver as I closed the heavy door. 

The driver nodded, and didn’t ask for any further information. Thankfully.

I leaned back against the seat and rubbed the sore spot on my arm where the I.V. was, and silently prayed that we’d make it home in record time. 

I handed the driver the cash and grabbed my plastic bag that the hospital so generously gave me before heading inside. The lady in the elevator who lives on the floor above me tried making small talk, but I was not in the mood.  I nodded my head, but hadn’t heard a word she’d said.

“Good day,” I said waving quickly as I rushed off the elevator onto the second floor. 

Good day… Who says that?

Please let me see no one else before I get the key inside the door.

Two-thirteen was my apartment number and it was at the end of the hall. Before I could get it unlocked I heard the clattering of little feet behind me. 

“Tor, Tor, can I come in and see Duncan?” The sweet little voice asked from behind me. I rested my forehead on the door and sighed. It wasn’t a good day for avoidance. Obviously.

“Hey Becca. Um,” I paused so that I could turn to see her. She was the little girl from two-o-nine that I babysat from time to time. She was sweet, but annoying. “Duncan is very tired from all the playing he’s been doing. If you come back tomorrow I’ll let you play with him. Okay?” I tried to sound sweet and nice, whether or not it sounded that I way I wasn’t sure.

“Ooookay,” she replied. She dropped her shoulders and turned to walk away. You’d think I broke her heart. She was only seven years old. 

BOOK: I Can't Die Alone
8.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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