Chapter 42: Nighttime Visitor
I wrote a poem; you wanna hear it? Amarea called out.
Huh? Joey replied sleepily. Amarea?
Yes, Joseph, it’s me. She shook her head. Who else would it be?
It’s one in the morning! Where are you? He asked.
Sitting on your front porch, she replied. Wanna hear my poem?
Do you want to come inside? He asked.
Not really. It’s nice out here, she said.
Want me to come down? He asked.
Nope, she said quietly, I just want to tell you my poem.
Ok, Mar, shoot, Joey replied.
I had a dream the other night.
Of wayward souls taking flight.
Of dreams lost.
Of wishers found.
Is that all? Joey asked.
Well, she said, it’s a work in progress.
You came all the way over here to tell me that? Joey shook his head.
Didn’t you like it? She asked, almost shyly.
Sure, Mar, it was neat, Joey said, short, but neat. Mar, why are you crying? What’s up?
The cancer is back, she said meekly. She began to sob.
What? Joey said. Hold on a sec.
Joey ran out of his room and down the stairs. The front door flew open. “What do you mean, the cancer is back?”
“Cute boxers,” Amarea said staring at Joey’s purple paisley boxers.
Joey grabbed Amarea’s shoulders and looked into her eyes, “Tell me now,” he said.
We got the call tonight, she said. Remember last week when I went to the doctor?
Last Tuesday? Joey asked.
Yes, Amarea said. Well, they ran some tests. We got the results back; my white blood cells are off the charts. That means the cancer is back.
So what now? He was shaking, and it wasn’t from the cold.
More tests, Amarea said, probably chemo, hospitalization, maybe I’ll be lucky and just die.
Shut up, Mar! Joey yelled.
A light came on in the hall. Joey’s sister stood in the doorway.
“Joey?” Miriam questioned.
“Yes,” Joey said, “I’m out here with Amarea.”
“Amarea,” Joey’s sister said, “Have you been crying?”
At this, Amarea broke down and cried on Joey’s shoulder.
“Her cancer is back,” Joey said.
“Her cancer? My cancer?” Amarea cried. “It isn’t my cancer. It’s not like a bike or an eyebrow; something I own or have. It’s a foreign body that’s destroying me. It is the cancer.”
“Oh, sweetheart,” Miriam said, placing her arms around Amarea. “Come inside and get some cocoa.”
Cocoa was Miriam’s answer to everything, from the stubbed toe to a broken heart. Big problems called for the expensive Dutch Cocoa. Miriam got out the $45.00 jar of imported Dutch Cocoa and hand-made marshmallows.
Joey and Amarea sat quietly at the kitchen table as Miriam filled her pink water pot and got out her fine china.
“Amarea, dear,” Miriam said, “Why don’t you call your parents, so they don’t worry?”
“Ok,” Amarea said weakly. She walked to the telephone in the living room. She returned a few minutes later.
“They will be here in five minutes to pick me up,” she said.
“Oh, I better put on more water,” Miriam said. Jameson went to Joey’s room and brought back a t-shirt and jeans. Joey gratefully put them on.
Five minutes of silence slowly passed. The doorbell rang. Joey jumped up and ran to the door.
“She’s fine,” Amarea heard Joey say, “She’s in the kitchen.”
“Hello, Miriam,” Mrs. Dustin said. “Dutch cocoa, yum,” she said pointing to the jar of cocoa.
“Hello, Marea,” Mr. Dustin said, walking behind his daughter’s chair. He put his arms around her neck and kissed her cheek.
Miriam’s family joined the party. Jameson stood with his arm around Miriam, while Emma and Jehn stood at her sides. Michael stood in the doorway. Meghan climbed on Amarea’s lap and stirred her cocoa with her finger.
For the next hour and a half, Amarea’s parents talked about her condition. The future was uncertain and frightening. Amarea’s chance of beating the cancer was less than fifty percent.
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