Aug 19, 2011

When The Fireworks Begin (Waiting)


Just like that, like a flick of a hand, it was already afternoon. Waiting can make you look at time differently. Sometimes it is too slow for comfort. Sometimes, like today, it shows no mercy.  It passes by so quickly that you felt everything was in a fast forward.  You feel that somebody is wishing everything to end quickly. 

James felt something cold fell on his should. He glanced at it and saw a raindrop.  The single drop was followed by a slow drizzle.  James slowly walked towards the lone tree on that sad hill. But the drizzle ended quickly as it began, leaving the grass on that lonely hill asking for more water to quench their thirst. 

“Why do you that?” James asked loudly. He was talking to anybody who was willing to hear.

“Why do you give things to people or any living thing, then take them away immediately,” James groaned. 

James heard crunches of gravel and a motor sound. He looked around and saw a car pulling over next to his.  He shook his head and wished it was not one of his friends who visited him frequently these past few days. He prefers to do his waiting on his own. Alas, it was Aleli. James took his eyes of continued to view the busy panorama of the city. 

“I am not going home,” James stated before Aleli could say anything.

Aleli became quiet, sharing a moment of silence. James relaxed a bit, thinking that she is not there to convince him anyway.

“She’s not coming back, James,” she said in a straight voice.

“She will,” James thought. “Everything that you told me was a lie. She is coming back.”

“I am not lying,” Aleli sighed.

James snickered. Aleli threw him a look.

“You’ve been wasting your life here,” Aleli insisted. James shook his head and refused to look at the girl beside her. Aleli continued. “She does not want you to be like this. She wants you to live your life.”

Something burst in James. He angrily looked at Aleli, “Who are you to tell me what she wants and does not want? She is my wife. I know she’ll be back.”

Aleli looked straight and James.  Eventually, she averted her eyes.  It is hopeless to talk him like this.  It is so sad to see him suffering like this.  She took something out of her pocket and handed it to James before turning around. 

James eyed the small box wrapped in fancy paper.  “What is this?” he asked.

Aleli looked at him, sadly.  “It’s your Christmas gift.” Without waiting for any reply, she turned and walked towards her car.

James did not look when Aleli’s car pulled out of grassy hill.  He looked at the box. He opened it slowly. Inside he saw a watch.  He placed the lid of the box again and slid the it into his pocket. 

It is Christmas and bowed his head.  All he wanted as a gift was her.

When The Fireworks Begin (Chapter IX)

Chapter IX

When James arrived home, Devon was already up and sipping some hot coffee.  James smiled at Devon and walked towards her, he remember the grieving Aleli he has left in the park. He felt guilty, but he has to do that.  Aleli has to realize that things have ended between them for a long time already.

James approached Devon and kissed her on the forehead.  James felt Devon getting tensed. He did not pay attention and instead walked towards the sink to get a drink.

“Jogging?’ Devon asked.

James nodded in between his gulps of water. “Yeah. Did you see my note?” James asked and pulled a chair besides Devon.

Devon nodded. “Alone?”  She braced herself for his answer, she heard James talked to Aleli that morning. She knows that he went jogging with her, but James does not know that.  If James said he was alone, then there are just two possible reasons, it is either he does not want to hurt her or he still has the torch for Aleli.  She was hoping it was the first one, but in her heart she dread if that will be the answer.

James caught the tensed look in Devon’s face. “No,” James said. “I was out with Aleli.”

Devon was prepared for the answer.  In her mind, she was just thinking that he was about to deny it.  She already mapped out what she’s going to say if James lied about jogging with Aleli.

“What are you thinking,” James asked.  He sensed that something is wrong, the minute he walked into the room and kissed her forehead.

“Nothing,” Devon avoided and kept sipping on her coffee, feebly trying to pay attention to the newspaper in front of her.

James grabbed the newspaper from Devon’s view. “What are you thinking,” he insisted.

“James, give me back the paper,”  she begged. 

James shook his head, “Not until you tell what is wrong.”

“There is nothing wrong,” Devon answered, probably too fast and in a higher tone that she intends it to be.

James raised an eyebrow. “Really, baby, I can smell a lie.”

Devon shook her head and then buried her face on her hands and started to mumble. James has to pull her hands away from her face to understand her.

“What are you saying?” James asked.

Devon looked at him grudgingly. “I said I don’t like you going out alone with Aleli.”

“Are you jealous?” James teased.

Devon gave out an exasperated sigh.  “But I don’t have a choice, right? If I will die in a couple of years,  then you are better off with somebody I know.”

It was James time to become tensed, “What are you saying?”

Devon stood up and walked away from James, pacing at the kitchen sink.  She glanced at the refrigerator door, with the medicines and schedule of doctor visits, “What I am saying is that I don’t want to leave you alone, James.  Aleli loves you, we both know that. She will take good care of you, when I am gone,” Devon’s voice trailed away. 

When I am gone, that hit something in James head and he felt that he snapped.

“Why are you always thinking about death,” James asked, with an edge on every word.

Devon recognized the edgy tone, but she continued. “Because that is the reality.”

James stood up. “The reality, the fact is that there are things that could be done to prevent that. Medications, therapy…”

Devon raised her voice and answered angrily. “If it is my time, it will be my time. Regardless of how many medicines I take, how many therapy sessions I attend.”

“Why are you such in a hurry to die?” James angrily answered, raising his voice.

“I am not in a hurry to die,” Devon answered. 

“Then why are you always talking about dying,”  James countered. “Why is it so easy for you to leave me?”

“Do you think it is easy for me to think that I will be leaving you? Do you think that it is easy for me to realize that I would not be able to raise my own son or daughter, if I ever one. Pack lunches for them when they go to school, attend graduations.” Devon took a deep breath, tears gushing down her cheeks. “Do you think it is easy for me whenever I think that I would not be able to celebrate even my tenth year wedding anniversary?”

James went quiet.  Devon leaned on the kitchen sink, her face wet from the tears.  “Nothing scares me more than realizing that I am going to die, that I will no longer
 be by your side.  But we have to face facts and the fact is that most people with my disease don’t have much time.”

James approached her wife and embraced her tight. “I am so sorry.”

James can’t tell how long they stayed that way, but when Devon’s sobs subsided and she relaxed, James could feel the heat radiating between them.  James lowered his head, and murmured Devon’s name before he kissed the side of her neck.

Devon welcomed his husband’s kisses.  She drew him to her and James knew that this will lead them into experiencing another slice of heaven.  He savored the taste of her lips on his, marvelled on how beautiful she looked with the rays of the sun bathing her.

The kissed deepened and they forgot, forgot about the argument they had earlier.  All that matters is that they are in the loving embrace of each other. They even forgot that they are in the kitchen. It took all James’ strength to pull away from the kiss.

James had his forehead against Devon’s forehead. “You’re my life, Devon,” he said with his eyes locked with hers.

“You know what makes me happy,” Devon answered in a hushed whisper. “Realizing that I get to spend my entire life with you, regardless of short it will be.”

James tried to bite away a tear, instead he dipped his head again and took her lips. He kissed her with such intensity and passion, as if it would be the last time he would kiss her, taste her.  James lifted Devon and carried her upstairs, without taking his eyes off his lovely wife.

In the bedroom, James laid Devon on the wide bed and started to kiss her again.  He stroked her soft skin, moving his hand on her sides, travelling from the side of her thigh up to the side curve of her breast. Devon took a deep breath and shivered from the touch.

James smiled and removed her clothes, one piece at a time, savoring on every inch of her body. His mouth explored every curve, every hollow of his wife’s body.  It was wonderful. Devon’s hands were travelling on her husband’s perfectly chiselled body. Her fingers were digging on the flesh whenever James sent her shivering with pleasure.

In a few moments, they were both soaring, their bodies moving as one. When the explosion came, both of them felt that their souls left their body.

“Are we still alive,” James said after a while, soliciting laughter from Devon.

“I think we are,” Devon answered.  “I feel like I was floating.”

James pulled Devon into his arms and embraced her. “I love you,” that is all he needed to say.  And for Devon, that is all she wants to hear.

“I love you, too,” Devon answered and snuggled closer.  James raised her chin and kissed her again.

“Let’s see if we can make you fly,” James said mischievously. Devon giggled as James pulled the blanket over her again and they were both drowned again in kisses.

When The Fireworks Begin (Chapter VIII)

Chapter VIII

James woke up with an insistent buzzing on the bedside table.  James sat up and looked at the peacefully sleeping Devon. They have been at home for a few days already and the good news is that no accidents have happened in the past few days.  Devon insisted on going back to work, but James worry about her health. 

Dr. Alvarez backed Devon the last time they talked with the doctor.

“As long as it she keeps it easy and slow, she’ll be okay,”  Dr. Alvarez advised.  “No overworking and stress.”

James was still reluctant at the idea and Devon understood about his worries.

“Why don’t we meet halfway,” Devon proposed. “I’ll just take half of my teaching load. I will talk to my dean to reassign half of the subjects to other professors. Really James, I can’t stay at home the entire day and do nothing.”

James had no choice but to agree. These past few days, everything seems to be normal, except for the medicine schedule plastered on their refrigerator door, reminding them that things are not really normal.

James rubbed his eyes and looked at the alarm clock.  It was already seven o’clock in the morning, James bolted up and realized it was Saturday.  Definitely an excuse to sleeping late. James looked for the source of the buzzing sound, it was his cellphone vibrating.  It was Aleli calling. Devon stirred on the bed, with her breathing slow and peaceful. 

James answered the phone, “What?”

“Good morning, honey,” Aleli sweetly greeted.  “I’m going jogging today. Want to come?”

James looked at Devon who was still sleeping. “No,” James decided.

“Come on,” Aleli persuaded. “You’re all out of shape. Besides it is good for your health. Not just because Devon is sick you’ll do everything to get sick too.”

“Aleli,” James started. “My health is fine.”

“I bet you can’t keep up with me anymore,” Aleli joked. “C’mon James. Sam’s not jogging today, he’s out of town. I have no jogging partner. Besides we haven’t seen each other for ages.”

James went quiet, he has been turning down Aleli so much lately. He felt guilty, after all she is still a friend. “Okay,” James gruffly responded. “Where are you, anyway?”

Aleli gave him instructions and James ended the call. Before leaving he wrote a short note, “out jogging” and figured to leave the Aleli part out of the note.  He kissed sleeping Devon’s forehead and walked out of the bedroom. When the house is already quiet, Devon opened her eyes and stared at the note.

“You came,” Aleli happily greeted and ran towards James, hugging him tight. James pulled out of her embrace.

“Really, Aleli,” James said irritatingly. “It is not as if we haven’t seen each other for more than a year.”

Aleli looked ready for some posh jogging. She was wearing really short shorts, tight halter top and pink rubber shoes. James immediately did some stretching, to prepare for the run.

“Well Mr. Suplado,” Aleli countered while pouting. “We haven’t talked for a long time.” She started to stretch beside James, her long and slender legs being eyed by numerous men around them in the park.

James shook his head, still the same. Aleli is still an eye-catcher, and she knows how to dress her body to make her more noticeable. Devon does not need to overdress to catch anybody’s attention, James smiled to himself.

“What’s so funny?” Aleli asked and started stretching her arms.

“Nothing,” James answered. “Ready?” James asked and started to run even before Aleli could say yes.

Aleli ran after James and they jogged continuously in silence. Aleli would ask once in a while, how was work. James would give short reply. To Aleli that is nothing new, James is not somebody who would offer explanations or tell stories without prodding or some persuasion.  But Aleli saw the chatty James when he was with Devon.

Aleli remembered seeing James and Devon together.  They were chatting away, as if there are thousands of things to talk about. When Aleli and James were together, it was almost always Aleli talking.  Aleli stopped jogging and started to walk. James noticed that Aleli was no longer jogging besides him.

“I can’t keep up with you eh,” James joked.

Aleli smiled and sat at the nearest bench, trying to catch her breath. “Let’s rest for a while.”

James walked besides the bench but did not sit down.  He remained standing watching the people passing them by. “I thought I was the one who’s out of shape.”

Aleli laughed. “Well, you ran faster. It’s called jogging, James. Not sprinting.”

James smiled and relaxed a bit.  He was tensed this morning, thinking about what Devon will think when she finds out that he was jogging alone with Aleli.  Devon rarely gets jealous.  She trusted him, but also James knows she is uncomfortable when he is alone with Aleli. After all, they used to be together.

“James what happened to us?” Aleli asked after the long silence.

James was surprised with the question and looked at Aleli. Aleli looked at him, weakly smiled and continued, “Sometimes, I ask myself. What really happened during that time? Did you really love me?”

James did not answer. He looked away from Aleli.  “It was a different kind of love.  Later on, I realized that it was brotherly love. I loved you like a sister.”

Aleli did not react.  She quietly looked ahead.  “I still love you. After all this years, I still do.”

James did not offer Aleli a glance nor any response.  He heard Aleli standing up and approaching him. Aleli stood up and kissed James on the lips. James did not answer the kiss and pulled his head away.

“I love Devon,” James answered.

“I know,” Aleli said.  “I will wait for my time.”

James looked at Aleli. He understood what Aleli was thinking, when Devon dies, if she does, she is willing to take her place. James could not bear to be angry against Aleli for thinking like that.  Instead, he feels guilty.  He feels that he has left Aleli hoping over the years.

“We had our time Aleli,” James softly explained. “And it didn’t work out.”

“Perhaps, it can this time,” Aleli hopefully asked, while holding to James arm.

James slowly removed Aleli’s hands. “It is about time you move on. Things between us have been over for years.”

Aleli looked hurt.  “All this years, I thought that there is still hope for us. You will ask my help whenever you are on a tight spot.  You let me call you honey, you were there when I asked you to be there. I thought…”

James shook his head.  “Well you thought wrong,” he was so angry to himself right now. “You’re a friend, Aleli. It has been always that way. It was just convenient  and practical for us to get together, that time.”

Aleli was now crying. She sat on the bench with tears streaming down her face. James felt so bad, for leading Aleli on. For letting her believe that there is still hope for them.

“You have to move on,” James slowly told her. “You will find the right one for you. But it is not me. My heart belongs to one person and that’s how it will be until the end.”

Aleli did not say anything. She buried her face on her hands. James started to walk away.  Aleli hurt and crying,  has finally reached closure.

When The Fireworks Begin (Chapter VII)

Chapter VII

It has been two days since Devon fell down the stairs.  Both James and Devon refused to talk about the unfortunate event and the disease that has taken Devon’s body. James refuses to talk about it, or hear anything that implies Devon’s sickness and possible death. If I keep thinking that this is just a terrible nightmare or just not true, then it could go away, James thought. It was immature, but for him it was hope.

Devon was quietly leaning on her bed watching the television in front of her. Meanwhile, James was tapping on his laptop, trying to finish some work.  He took some freelance consultancy work, just to keep up with the hospital bills.

Devon looked at her husband, she felt guilty. I am so sorry, she whispered in the air.  She does not want to take him away from his comfortable life and put him into this kind of misery.

Devon shifted her attention back to the television, I must think positive. Positive thoughts attract positive results,  she told herself.  Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman’s face was displayed on the screen. They were talking about the list of things that they want to do before they die, both of them in their hospital beds.

“I want to do that,” Devon said aloud.

James looked at his wife and asked, “Do what, baby?”

“I want to have my bucket list,” Devon answered.

“A bucket list?”

“Yeah,” Devon nodded. “A list of things that I want to accomplish or do, before I die.”

James felt that familiar pang again in his chest. Before I die, he felt that the words were being etched into his heart.

“You’re not going to die baby,” James said reassuringly. “We would look for the best medical care out there and possibly a cure.”

“We both know that is impossible,” Devon countered. They did some research on her disease and found out that there is still no cure for ALS.

“But we both saw that there are people with ALS who lived for ten, twenty years or more,” James said hopefully.

Devon smiled sadly. “James, I could not be one of them.”

James sighed.  “Don’t lose hope, okay?”

“I am not losing hope, baby,” Devon said. “I just want to do things. Let’s think of it as a celebration of life.”

James looked at Devon, intently.  She still looks that healthy wife he walked down the aisle with a few months ago.  But there were dark circles under her eyes. She has been sleeping, but her sleep has been shallow, just making her more tired every day.  Her smile barely reached her eyes anymore.

James would give everything to make things different. He sat besides Devon on the bed and pulled his wife into his embrace.

“I wish, I was the one who’s sick, not you,” James whispered to Devon’s ear.

“It’s not going to make things easier,” Devon answered. “I will be in the same pain as you are. We both hate losing each other.”

James nodded in agreement. 


James was walking in the hospital corridor. He has just paid the hospital bills, Devon will be discharged in the afternoon. The hospital bills made a huge dent in their savings, Devon already thought about that.  James saw her talking to a colleague in the university, earlier.

“What was that about,” James asked, sensing some relief in Devon’s face.

“She took over some of my classes,” she said. “Also, I asked her to file monetization of my leaves. It would help us financially.”

“Don’t worry yourself about the finances,” James said reassuringly. “Let me take care of it.”

But now James is thinking hard about it.  I need to take more freelance work, he thought hard. He was thinking about borrowing some money in the bank.  Devon’s parents were offering their meager savings but James refuses to think about it.

“You will need some financial help,” AlingLinda said yesterday, when she saw James pouring on a piece of paper making computations.

“I can’t accept that Inay,” James answered.

Aling Linda looked at the sleeping Devon. “Let us help James. She is our daughter.”

James accepted the amount which paid for half of the bill. But James could not continue accepting help from Devon’s parents, he knows that they are also having some difficulties financially. They are not really that well-off, and worked hard for every centavo that they have.

“James,” Dr. Alvarez’s voice startled him.

“Ninong,” James answered, bowing his head to mano.

Dr. Alvarez complied.  “I’m sorry about this last hospital bill,” Dr. Alvarez mentioned. “I was not able to give instructions to the cashier that some of the tests will not be charged to you.”

“It is okay, Ninong,” James answered.  “Really, we will be fine.”

Dr. Alvarez sat on one of the row of chairs in the corridor.  He motioned for James to sit beside him. James looked at him and slowly sat besides the doctor.

“I talked to your father, yesterday,” Dr. Alvarez said.

James looked at the doctor, with wide eyes.  “Don’t think that I or your father arranged the meeting,” Dr. Alvarez assured.  “We just happen to see each other in the mall yesterday. I was doing some grocery shopping and apparently he had a business meeting in one of the restaurants there.”

James remained silent. Dr. Alvarez tried to make things lighter, “Yes, I do the grocery shopping. One of the things that your Ninang insists that I do, instead of the maids. She thinks I am great in choosing seafood.”

James smiled a little at what the Dr. Alvarez said. Dr. Alvarez breathed easily when he saw James smiled and relaxed a little. Apparently, hearing something about his father makes James tensed.

James went quiet and then he could no longer help himself but ask. “What did he say?” James asked. “I bet he said bad things about me, especially Devon.”

“He wants you to know he’s sorry,” Dr. Alvarez stated while looking at James.

James snickered. “He probably told you what happened.”

“Not entirely,” Dr. Alvarez said. “But I gathered that he really did bad things to you and Devon.”

James did not answer and looked ahead. He offered no stories, no explanations.  Dr. Alvarez was not expecting anything anyway.

“I told him about Devon’s condition,” Dr. Alvarez said.

James looked angrily at the doctor. “Why do you have to do that? You are in no position…”

“Because you will need help,” Dr. Alvarez cut his tirade.

“We can manage,” James angrily answered. He was about to stand up, when Dr. Alvarez touched his harm preventing him to do so.

“Your father offered help,” Dr. Alvarez said.

“My father,” said James bitterly. “He did things that he should’ve done to his son.  He should’ve been happy for me, but instead he disowned me.”

“Listen to me, James,” Dr. Alvarez calmly explained. “ALS does not only take toll to its patients, but to its families, too.  It is difficult to see your loved one wither away, without being able to do anything about it. But aside from that, you will need money to give the best care possible.”

“I said we could manage,” James countered.

“What will you do, James, when Devon will need special equipment?”  Dr. Alvarez asked exasperatingly.  “When ALS progresses, patients would often need CPAP masks, masks that will help them breathe.  She will need drugs, therapy, and sometimes even speech computers.”

James did not answer but did not look at the doctor. Dr. Alvarez continued, “James, there are a lot of things to consider. Devon needs help and your father is offering that kind of help.”

James shook Dr. Alvarez hand on his arm. “We will manage,” he quietly answered.  “Thank you for your concern.”

James walked away from the Doctor, while Dr. Alvarez looked on, shaking his head. 

When The Fireworks Begin (Chapter VI)

Chapter VI

James was slowly walking home. The beer did not help him at all, talking to Sam definitely did not help him either.  He just made James feel more crappy and guilty.  He should have never left her alone.

He could hear Sam’s words slicing through his head.

“You’ll choose pride over your wife?”

Sam’s voice was not the only thing reverberating in James’ head.  He could also hear Devon’s harsh question.

“Why are you so selfish?”

Am I really selfish, James asked himself. All I wanted is to have her longer, James thought. All I wanted is too have her forever.

James stopped in front of their apartment door.  He bowed his head.  I will tell her,  he decided.  She deserves to know.

He turned the knob and was surprised to find the doorknob unlocked.  He was more surprised to see Devon lying on the foot of the stairs, with blood trickling from her forehead.  She was unconscious. James rushed to her side, afraid to touch her.

“Baby,” James mumbled, his voice trembling. “Oh my God.”

Devon slightly opened her eyes, looked at James and started to close her eyes again. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” James kept on saying. “We’ll call for help.”

James immediately dialled his Ninong’s number.

“Don’t move her, I’m on my way,” Dr. Alvarez instructed.  “You can cause more damage. Don’t let her fall asleep.”

James dropped the phone and immediately lied down beside Devon.

“I’m so sorry, Devon,” James said in tears. “I left you alone, when you most needed me.”

Devon feebly smiled but did not move. “We’re gonna be okay.”

James cried more. “Don’t sleep baby, don’t sleep.”

Devon felt her eyes closing. She could hear James begging her to stay. She could hear James’ sobs. He rarely cried, she thought. I’m sleepy, she thought.

“Don’t sleep baby,” James was begging now. He was squeezing on Devon’s hand. “Don’t you dare sleep baby, don’t you dare.”

Devon answered weakly, “I’ll try.”  But she could not barely open her eyes, the last thing she heard were footsteps and James calling her name.

James has been sleeping on Devon’s bedside for two nights now. He did not even bother going home.  Aling Linda, Devon’s mom, has been begging him to get decent rest. But he would not go home.

“It was my fault,” James kept insisting. “I left her. I left her alone.”

“It was an accident,” Aling Linda countered.

But reasons fall on his deaf ears. He would never let anything happen to her again. He would never leave her alone again.  

Aling Linda stayed for a while in the hospital.  She insisted on James eating his meals, and talked to the visitors and friends that visited the couple.  James was nodding and shaking his head to answers, but offered no effort to converse with the visitors.

Dr. Alvarez walked into the room, while Aling Linda was putting the basket of fruits that James’ workmates have brought.  James stood up and walked towards the doctor.

“Good morning,” greeted Dr. Alvarez. “How is she?”

“Still asleep,” James answered. “Is it okay for her to sleep this long? Isn’t she supposed to be awake by now?”

“I think she is,” Dr. Alvarez answered while looking at Devon.

Devon was stirring on her bed and slowly opening her eyes. James rushed to her side and held her hand.

“Devon,” he asked. Aling Linda approached the bedside and looked softly at her daughter.

Devon slowly opened her eyes and faintly smiled. “Hi,” she greeted.

James felt his heart is going to burst. He held Devon’s hand and could no longer contain himself. He leaned towards Devon’s hand and sobbed. “I am so sorry baby, I should’ve just stayed home.”

“It is not your fault,” Devon tried to reason out. “It was an accident.”

James tried to stop crying. Devon raised her other hand and touched James’s cheek. James was lost for words and he held Devon’s hand tighter. I will never let you go, James thought to himself.

Dr. Alvarez checked on Devon’s vital signs and smiled. “You are going to be fine, young lady,” Dr. Alvarez commented.  Dr. Alvarez gave last instructions and he was about to leave the room when he called James. “I will just take your husband away for a while. Don’t worry, I’ll bring him back.”

James stood up and followed Dr. Alvarez outside the room.

“What is it,” James asked.

“Test results came in this morning,” Dr. Alvarez slowly explained. “It is really ALS. We need to tell her James.”

James bowed his head. He was expecting better news. “Why us? Why should this happen to us?”

Dr. Alvarez held James’ shoulder. “Everything happens for a reason.” Dr. Alvarez was about to walk toward Devon’s bed, but James held on to the doctor’s arm.

“Let me tell her,” James pleaded.

“Are you sure?” Dr. Alvarez asked.

James nodded.  Dr. Alvarez tapped on James’s shoulder again and walked out of the room.

Devon’s father arrived later in the afternoon, he was from work and was very happy when he saw his daughter already leaning on the bed, drinking water.  It was already after visiting hours when they left the hospital.  In a couple of days Devon would be able to go home, according to the hospital nurse in charge of her care.

Once her parents have left, James snuggled besides Devon on the bed.  Devon meanwhile, snuggled closer to James.

“I will never do it again,” James started.

“Do what,” Devon asked while James cradled her head on the crook of his shoulder.

“Walk out on you,” James answered.

“You always do that,” Devon said.

“Do I?” James asked, pulling a strand of Devon’s hair back.

“Yes you do,” Devon explained. “Whenever you receive a call from your father, heard bad news, caught in the argument, you always tend to take a walk after.”

“I feel a lot better when walking,” James answered.

“It appears to me that you are escaping,” Devon countered. James looked at her, expecting to see her usual smile but she was not smiling.

“Are you serious?” James asked.  Devon nodded. “Was I really escaping?”

“You are running away from confrontation,” Devon answered.

James pulled Devon closer. “I would never do that again, I would never run away from you or from anybody else, anymore.”

Devon smiled and snuggled closer to James.  James was thinking, is this the right time?

“What are you thinking?” Devon asked, she slowly pulled herself up and looked at James.

“Nothing, really,” James answered.

“Well, there is obviously something bothering you,” Devon commented.

James pulled himself up and sat besides Devon, I am not running away.

“Devon, there is something that you should know,” he said and pulled Devon’s hands. “Your falls were not insignificant…”

His words drifted, explaining what the doctor has explained him. Devon sat there listening, trying to absorb everything. Was she in shock, James could not tell. After telling her about the disease, there was a deafening silence in the room. Only the humming of the airconditioning could be heard.

Devon looked down at her lap and spoke in a barely audible voice, “Does it mean I am going to die?”

James was trying to keep himself from choking in his tears. “We will look for the best doctors out there that can help us.”

“Will I die James,” Devon asked, tear streaming down her face. James cannot answer.  Sobs racked Devon body and she was shaking from the fact that she has heard.

James pulled her towards him and embraced her.  His own tears falling down, “We will look for ways.”

“How many years do I have,” Devon asked.

“Don’t ask that,” James answered, holding her tighter against his chest, as if somebody will rip her out of his arms any moment.

“I want to know James,” Devon asked, trying to pull herself out of the embrace.

James looked at Devon, his voice was trembling. “The doctor says ALS patients would normally live 2 to 5 years.”

Devon placed her palm in her hands and cried. 

“I wish I was the one who has the disease,” James whispered. “I can’t lose you in two or five years. I can’t. I won’t.”

Devon was sobbing really hard.  James could not do anything. He just pulled her closer and embraced. He raised Devon’s tear-streaked face and said, “You will not die, baby. I swear I will not accept that I only have two years with you. I will look for ways, look for the best doctors, best practices.”

Devon held James face and pulled his forehead against hers. She tried to smile weakly, “Or we could look at it the other way.  Good news is that I still have two years.”

James closed his eyes and pulled Devon’s lips on his.  He tasted tears, he does not know if it were his or hers. James passionately kissed Devon and whispered against her lips.

“Two years are not enough,” he whispered, not just talking to Devon but to the most omnipotent person that could hear him.
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