Monday, September 15, 2014

What's in a Name?

Michael Di Gesu  is hosting a blogfest. The stories will be compiled in an anthology, and the funds raised will help Melissa Bradley  pay her medical bills from her cancer treatments. Here’s my story for the anthology. 





 What's in a Name? 


This story is dedicated to Abby.



I enter the all-too-freakin’ familiar hospital door ahead of Dad. Usually Mom takes me, but she’s due to have a baby soon. By the time I leave through these doors again--if I come out alive--the baby will not only be born, but they’ll be a new family of three.

I’ll be the outsider.

I rush ahead of Dad, like I’m looking forward to my stay at Camp Cancer. Instead of hikes in the woods and swimming at the beach, I’ll sit around a lot while they inject poison into my veins.

Mom calls it medicine.

Dad calls it “therapeutic.”

We all know what it is—my last chance to live.

I’m here for a clinical trial for Secret Drug #11, just like my age.

Nobody’s waiting in the lobby, for a change. I press the elevator button. The door opens like magic. I step inside and press the Doors Close button.

“Will!” Dad calls.

Too late. The doors slide shut.

He can take the next elevator. Or go home. I don’t care.

The elevator doesn’t stop until it reaches my floor. By then, I’ve recovered. If I’m going to be stuck here, I’d rather do this alone.

The familiar receptionist, Karen, greets me with her usual toothy smile. At least she doesn’t have lipstick on her teeth this time. “Hi, Will. Where’s your dad?”

I shrug. “I think he’s on his way.”

She faces her computer screen and types. “Why don’t you have a seat until he arrives.”

So much for doing this alone. I slump into a chair next to the desk. It’s only 9:00 am, but I’m ready to sleep. Not only does the cancer and all the poison they put in my body exhaust me, but I also didn’t sleep well last night. I chew on the inside of my cheek like I always do when I’m nervous. The metallic taste caused by the chemo distracts me. I wonder if food will ever taste normal again.

Dad arrives all harried a few minutes later. It satisfies me to think of him stuck on a crowded elevator that stopped on every floor while mine was empty and sailed right up. I won’t look at him and he doesn’t say anything to me as he plops my bag at my feet. It’s full of Sherlock Holmes books. Even though I’ve read them all at least ten times, I’ll go through them again. The pre-cancer me used to love to investigate, and I used to write articles for the school newspaper. When I grow up, I’ll solve mysteries just like Sherlock Holmes.

“Sorry I’m late,” Dad says to Karen.

She grins. “No problem, Walter. I just have a few more forms for you to fill out.”

I pretend to doze while my dad completes a zillion forms in a chair next to me. Leave it to a hospital to already make my dad fill out a dictionary-sized pile of paperwork and then make him do it all over again.

“Will.” Someone’s nudging my shoulder.

I guess I really did doze off. When I open my eyes, Dad’s still next to me. Standing in front of us is Dr. Abrams and Nurse Dan with a wheelchair. Maybe it’s because I haven’t completely woken up, but I forget to stay mad. “I’m not ready,” I whisper.

Dad’s brow crinkles. His eyes meet mine and he nods like he can read my thoughts. I’ve been avoiding these eyes since my parents told me I’d be stuck here. He turns to the doctor and nurse. “Give us a minute, please.”

They don’t back up all that much. Probably think I’ll bolt the first chance I get. I’ve already taken off once today, so I can’t do it again even if I want to. I really want to.  

Dad takes my puffy hand in his. Everything about me is puffy from the side effects. Now I’ll have new drugs with new side effects. I’m so tired of this. Just so tired.

“You can do this,” he says.

“No, I can’t.”

He squeezes my hand. “Yes, you can.”

I look down, so he can stop reading my mind. “You’re leaving me here to… you’re moving on.”

“Will” Dad’s voice is as hard as his grip. “Don’t you ever, ever think that. We are doing this so you have a chance to live a long life. I’m sorry your mom can’t be here and the timing is bad. Your little brother is going to need a big brother.”

I lift my head. “It’s a boy?”

The crinkle in Dad’s brow switches to around his eyes from his smile. “Yep. I was going to surprise you when he arrived, but it looks like you need to know now. And,” he takes a breath. “Mom and I want you to name him.”

I stare at Dad’s strong hand on mine. “Me?”

“It’s an important job, so who else would we leave it to?”

I rest my head on his shoulder. I don’t magically feel better about everything but if I get to choose the name, it’s a sign my family isn’t trying to get rid of me. The name I choose will affect my brother’s whole life. My parents named me Will, which fits me perfectly because in some versions, William Sherlock Holmes Scott is his full name.

Maybe, besides all the doctors I’m spending too much time with, I need a Dr. Watson. The character is a good doctor and friend to Sherlock—that would be a good start for my little brother. Watson’s first name is John. But John isn’t the right name for him.

“Dad, can I borrow your phone?”

I look up Watson. It means Son of Walter. My dad ‘s name is Walter! It’s fate.

I hand Dad the phone. “I want to name him Watson.”

Watson needs to understand why I chose his name. If I’m going to explain, I have to keep fighting this disease until I’m better.

Dad nods with understanding. That’s what I like about him—he doesn’t say it’s too uncommon or not practical or that I might not like Sherlock in a few years—like other parents might do. He knows me. And he knows I can do this.

I stand. “I’m ready.”



57 comments:

  1. I love it. T, you did a fantastic job. Abby would be proud. You are such a wonderful writer. Love the family dynamic. Urging her on. That's what it's all about.

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  2. What a great story! And I like how he chose the name Watson. I also especially liked the line about how he was the outsider; that right there told me a lot about how he was feeling.

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    1. Thanks, Neurotic Workaholic. I'm glad his feelings came across on the page.

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  3. What a touching story! I love that Will's parent's let him name his baby brother, and that telling his brother why he named him "Watson" one day gave him strength. Well done!

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  4. What a beautiful, sad story. I loved it Theresa! The ending was perfect.

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  5. That is really heartbreaking and bittersweet. But it gave Will a reason to live.

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    1. Thanks, Alex. I've heard that with a cancer, attitude can be so important.

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  6. Great story, Theresa. Not easy to pack so much feeling into such a short piece--but you did. I'm really wowed by the creativity I'm seeing around the bloghop so far. (Nice to meet you, too! Don't think I've been over here before. Adding you to 'my lists'. :)

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    1. EJ Wesley, I've been impressed by the stories too. And they're all so different, which is going to make for a rich anthology.

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  7. So moving, Theresa. I love the ending because I've no doubt Will had the chance to explain Watson to his little bro.

    VR Barkowski

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    1. VR, I think Will will have a chance to explain Watson how he got his hame too. Thanks!

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  8. There's something about cancer and kids that hits all the emotion buttons Theresa. You did great! What a believable story. I'm cheering that Will can explain to Watson how he got his name.

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    1. Denise, because I write for and work with children, my mind went straight to a child with cancer. I think Will is going to get a chance to explain how Watson got his name too.

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  9. Fantastic voice, Theresa! I really enjoyed this...

    Sadly, so many kids are afflicted with this disease. It's great to have a few young voices for the anthology so that kids who are afflicted can read these stories for hope and inspiration.

    Thanks for participating in the hop and for the tweets. I really appreciate it!

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    1. Michael, I'm honored to be a part of this project. I can't wait to promote this on Twitter and Facebook when the anthology comes out.

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  10. Hi Theresa .. this was a lovely story ... so sad, yet so fraught with emotion, and pathos .. I think Watson will enjoy hearing how his name was chosen from Will .. there is hope and love .... cheers Hilary

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  11. Oh wow do I love this!! I grew up reading Sherlock and I totally saw Will in my mind's eye. Thank you for participating and sharing your story.

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    1. I'm glad you like my piece, Melissa. I'm so happy to be a part of the blog hop.

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  12. What a wonderful story, Theresa! You made me tear up!

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  13. What a wonderful story, Theresa! You made me tear up!

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  14. Such a great story. Wonderful inspiration, too.

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    1. Thank you, Carol! Congratulations on your book release.

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  15. This is wonderful and it made me cry! Beautifully written and for such a great cause. :)
    ~Jess

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  16. That was beautiful. It's so hard to understand what's going through a child's mind while dealing with something so horrific. You captured it wonderfully.

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  17. Hi Theresa.
    I love your story...it made me teary...
    Cancer is difficult enough for adults...but kids with cancer, that's just so unfair.
    You did a wonderful job of capturing the dreaded disease from a child's perspective. Great voice.

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    1. Michelle, thank you so much. I'm hoping to turn this beginning into a book. Doing more research about kids with cancer is going to be tough.

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  18. I love this story, Theresa, and I want to read more of it! There's so much emotion in your writing. I have no doubt I'll see it published one day. <3

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  19. This was lovely. Sad, cute, and uplifting, all in one piece.

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  20. Powerful story, Theresa.
    Cancer is horrible. So awful. But when it happens to a child it's all the more awful.
    My daughter's close friend passed away from leukemia in July, and it still affects me so much. I cry almost every day. I think of her so often. It's just hard to fathom that a little girl who used to sleep over is now in heaven.
    Is this the beginning of a book? Let me know if you ever need a reader. As difficult as it would be, I would be able to provide some fresh insight into it.

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    1. Kelly, that's so tough. I'm sorry for you and your daughter, and your daughter's friend's family.

      I do plan to turn this into a book. The first half of what would be "Chapter 1" would stay, but the second half would happen differently. Thanks for offering to read. It means a lot to me.

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  21. I love it Theresa. Based on a true story? I'm curious who Abby is. (that's my daughter's name too.)

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    1. PK, it's not based on a true story. I can tell you who Abby is privately.

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  22. Way to make me tear up on a Monday morning! This was so good. I love the name Watson.

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    1. Thanks, Nicki. I'm becoming partial to Watson too. I should've named my Beagle Sherlock or Watson since he's always sniffing. He acts like a detective.

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    1. Thank you, Judy! If I turn this into a novel, you may be seeing a lot more of it.

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  24. A lot of love in this story, Theresa. Wonderful addition to the anthology for Melissa.

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  25. Oh, Theresa that's beautiful. You made me cry. Love the name, love his 'when I grow up', love the authentic character voice shining through each line.

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    1. Thank you, Deniz. I'm happy to hear it moved you.

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