August 5, 2012
My eyes watched the ball. Up, down, up, down, up, down, gone. My lips twitched. With furrowed eyebrows I reached to the floorboards, the varnished wooden slats where the ball was last seen. My snowy fingers trembled as they caressed the smooth surface of the bouncy ball.
“It’s still there.”
The side of his lip curved upward, giving me the most enigmatic smile there was.
I looked at him, taking care to keep one eye on the spot where the ball was and, before he could stop me, my arm shot out. My frail hand enclosed around the ball. I brought it in towards me, cradling it near my chest. He made no move to stop me.
It must have been such an odd sight, to anyone looking in. A teenage girl kneeling on the floor in a hospital gown and a supposed specialist leaning forward in his chair, elbows propped on knees, watching the girl take it all in.
After holding the ball long enough for my mind to believe it was there, I stretched out my palm and unfurled my fingers. With my free hand I brushed away the thinning hair covering my face, and gazed up at him.
“Can you make it come back?”
“It hasn’t gone anywhere.”
I refrained from groaning, and moved the ball so it lay pinched between my fingers.
“Funny,” I muttered, my eyes still on the ball.
I rephrased the question.
“Can you make it reappear?”
He said nothing, but a moment later my eyes settled on the zig-zag pattern of the blue and white ball. I shook my head.
“And that’s what you want to do to my tumour?”
The man leaned forward and plucked the ball from my fingertips.
“Not quite. The tumour’s inside of you; making it invisible isn’t going to do much good.”
I stretched out my arm, a hidden force urging me to take the ball back, but he pulled away. I withdrew, settling my hands one at the other in my lap. It’s just a ball, I thought, an ordinary bouncy ball like the ones Jordan plays with. My fingers tapped, my body fighting the impatient itch to hold the ordinary bouncy ball. I saw the man catch sight of the tremor before I moved them behind my back. I put my weight against them, trying to focus on his face rather than the ball in his hand. He smiled, then pursed his lips when I frowned. Someone appeared at the door, my doctor. He was tall, young, and unbelievably handsome. Yet had nothing on the man in front of me.
“Bewitching, isn’t it?” my doctor called from the door.
I think I nodded but wouldn’t bet on it, my eyes never left the man. I was sure if I moved them even an inch they would waver back to the ball. I had to have more self-control than that.
“Randy please, I’m working here.”
There was a slight joking tone to his voice and Randy, my doctor, smiled.
“Apologies Jonathan. Call me when you’re done.”
My doctor walked away, the door swinging shut behind him.
His voice was soft. Sharp enough to penetrate my clouded mind but soft enough to keep me from freaking out.
“Yes?” I asked
“Hold out your hand.”
I did as I was told, my cupped hand waiting like a child hoping for sweets. He placed the ball in my hand and I watched as it disappeared. A gasp escaped my lips as my hand felt lighter. My fingers curled into a fist and I squeezed, hard. The ball was gone. I couldn’t see it and it wasn’t there. I gulped and felt a lump travel down my throat.
He reached out to me.
“That,” he whispered, peeling open my fingers until my palm was flat in his hand, “is what I want to do to your tumour.”
I glanced down at my empty hand, then watched as the ball appeared in his. He winked, and gave me his full smile. So I gave him mine.
“No tumour?” I asked.
“No tumour,” he replied, and, still smiling, faded from view.
It was okay though. I didn’t need to reach out to know I wasn’t alone.
Charlie Penny can be found on twitter @wake_girl_. At sixteen she’s a veritable spring chicken compared to the rest of us strange bOUncers. Her other passion is wakeboarding.