We're only about three fourths of the way through the movie when there's a knock on my hospital room door. Jilly picks the remote up off my lap and clicks the pause button. Dad moves to open the door. When he swings the door all the way open I can see that my current visitor happens to be the object of ninety percent of my thoughts. "Hi, Spencer," Dad greets him.
Dad has never really been Spencer's biggest fan, but ever since he's started visiting me here, Dad's lightened up a little. I think it's mostly because he wants me to be happy, and despite everything, seeing Spencer really does make me happy. Dad moves back and let's Spencer through.
"You okay?" Jilly asks, glancing back at me over her shoulder. I nod, grateful for her silent offer to remain in the room with us. "Okay. I'll just go...get some terrible coffee or...call Tanner or...something." She laughs at herself and winks at me. "Spencer," she greets him coolly as she steps around him. Jillian has never exactly been Team Spencer either, but she's heard all my Spence horror stories so she has a right to her opinion.
"Hi, Jill," Spencer greets her back, his hands tucking awkwardly into his pockets as he makes eye contact with me. He smiles.
Dad clears his throat unceremoniously and it makes me laugh. "We're okay, Daddy," I assure him. He seems to glance a little too long at Spencer but I ignore him because even if he has to stand in the hallway for the extent of this visit, I want to have Spencer to myself.
"Okay," I think I hear him mumble before he kisses my forehead and walks to the door. "I'll just go give your mother a call." I smile my gratitude as he pulls the door shut behind him.
Spencer doesn't say anything until he's comfortably seated in the chair next to my bed. When he is, he folds his hands in his lap, cracking the knuckles, and leans back. "Hey, Gracie." He smiles, the first real, Spencer smile since he's gotten here.
"Hi, Spence." I return his smile, mostly because I can't really help it.
"Jill still hates me?"
I laugh at that. "She doesn't hate you." And it's true. She doesn't like him either, but I don't bother telling him that. "She just...knows too much about you."
His smile fades a bit and his eyebrows crease. "Am I that terrible?" His voice is amused but I know he's also a little serious. That's how conversations with Spencer and me have been since I got sick, amusing but also serious. I guess when you know you only have a dwindling number of conversations left you have to try and fit it all in at once.
I keep my smile in place but shake my head at him just a little. "You're not terrible. You're just...you." I sigh. "It's not even you really it's just...we're us."
His exhale is almost whimsical. "God knows how that ever happened."
"What do you mean?"
Spence shrugs, leaning in closer and resting his elbows on his knees. "Just that...this is so not normal."
That makes me laugh but I bite my lip to hold the smile back. "Yeah...normal is not who we are. But..." I'm not sure that I should ever say what I'm thinking. It's really not fair to blame Spencer for the way that we are. I had just as much to do with it. I decide against it, because it isn't Spence's fault that I fell in love with him. I'm not sure it's mine either, but at least this way he doesn't feel like it's his.
"But?" he prods.
"Nothing," I shake my head. "Never mind."
Spencer's quiet for a few moments before he says, "You know keeping secrets really isn't the way to go about things at a time like this."
"A time like what?" I challenge. "Are you the one dying?" Woah, Gracie! Rein it in. I shake my head again, instantly regretting my outburst but Spencer just leans back in his chair again.
"No," he confirms. "I'm not the one dying, Gracie but I am one of the people who has to stay here without you. So if you could tell me some of your secrets that would be great."
I don't smile, but I feel like maybe I should. I simply lean back against my pillows and fold my hands in my lap. "I don't have many secrets, Spencer. Not from you." And that's the truth. As much as Spencer has never come right out and acknowledged it and as much time as I've spent avoiding the words, he knows I'm in love with him. I think he's always known.
"No." His smile is a little sad now. "I guess not." We're silent for a few moments, because, what do you say? Yes, I am madly in love with Spencer. But I'm also not around for the long haul. And he has a life. And it isn't one I would ever want to make him question.
"How's Leah?" I decide finally.
His grin turns from sad to fond and I know it's because he's thinking of her. Leah is the girl that Spencer has, finally, decided is the one for him. And as much as I'd like to think that he's wrong, and that girl is actually me, it's probably better this way. She's not going anywhere, after all. But I still can't help the jealousy that creeps through me at the thought that, she gets to be the one to love him into forever.
"She's good," he tells me. "She finished nursing school a couple of months ago."
"And the wedding?" I ask, mostly, to remind myself that he isn't mine. That he's hers, and she's got the ring to prove it.
He shrugs. "A year...maybe. We aren't sure yet."
I look away from him because the happiness in his voice makes me feel like crying. And that's not fair. I swallow a few times to rid myself of the lump in my throat. When I turn back to him there's concern written all over his face. "I'm really happy for you, Spence," I assure him, even though I can't decide if it's true. But even if it isn't, I would tell him that for decades just to see the smile that quirks his mouth when he hears it.
"Thanks, Gracie." He ducks his head, like maybe he's embarrassed, though I can't think what of. "I know I promised you a wedding invitation," he reminds.
Oh, yes. I'd almost forgotten about that. I think the night he said that was the night that I realized I would have to, at some point, truly let him go.