Peer Review by and_the_stars_laughed (United States)

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The Fine Line Between Love and Hate

By: deep_breaths


    I rub my sweaty hand across my bare scalp. The fabric of my pillow irritating me like crazy. Gazing up at the stark, white ceiling of my reserved hospital room, I toss and turn, unable to fall asleep. 
    Mom is out cold on the little chair in the corner. I don't know how she sleeps there almost every night. I sit up to see what time it is. My head pounding so loud I'm afraid Mom can hear it. 2:47 a.m. Ugh, I'm bored out of my mind. 
    After searching through my small TV, I look over at my communication board and read that today I have to suffer through another round of "Chemo for Whitney." Whoopee. 
    I was diagnosed with leukemia wen I was twelve, three years ago. Leukemia is a blood and bone marrow cancer, in case you didn't know. We though it was gone halfway through year two, but then I had a recurrence. The hospital admitted me into a room that I'd have to stay in until I was decent enough to go home.
    Now, Mom comes over every day (more or less) and sometimes stays on the couch overnight. She'll bring me a new book or magazine every time she comes. Today it's 'A Wrinkle in Time', one of my favorites as a little kid. Yesterday she brought me a magazine. 
    When I was first admitted into the hospital, I was unnaturally skinny my leukemia, so much so that you could see my rib bones and hip bones, and I had bruises all over my legs and torso. It looked like I had been beaten. After being here for about a year and a half, I'd gained a reasonable fifteen pounds. 
    I had to spend my fifteenth birthday here. My favorite nurses came in and brought me books (I like reading, okay?!) and the cook, Daphne brought me up and extra dessert. Then my doctor, Dr. Murphy gave me twenty dollars to spend in the gift shop. It was a pretty decent birthday to spend in the hospital.
    Since I couldn't fall back asleep, I read ' A Wrinkle in Time' for a second time before Mom woke up. "Mornin' sunshine, how'd ya sleep Whit?" She's been saying that every morning since I was seven, and it just stuck. "Fine." I reply, stifling a yawn.
    Mom opens our "luxurious breakfast menu", and settle son eggs and bacon. I begrudgingly order a waffle and strawberries. Mom flips through the channels on the TV and finds our personal favorite, America's Next Top Model. When I was still at home, Mom and I would sit on the couch and eat buckets of popcorn while watching ANTM. 
    Our breakfast comes and I eat two strawberries and half my waffle. Mom, on the other hand, eats all hers, three of my strawberries, my other waffle and the half I ate off of. Deb, my all time favorite nurse, comes in to check my vitals. After that, Deb leaves and Mom goes home.
    This is the time I love but also hate. I can nap without anyone watching my every twitch, but I'm alone and have no one to talk to. I call Deb back and she sits with me until she has to go to her next patient. Deb's the best, and I've made a checklist to determine the best nurse. (I have a LOT of free time) 
    1. No stupid baby voices while taking blood. 
Oh, honey sweetie teddy bear! Did that give you an ouchie, do you want a pink puppy band-aid?
    2. Doesn't pun your illness
Don't worry you'll see (Patient is blind)
    3. Sneaks you extra food (and not the crappy cafeteria food)
    4. Get's blood on their first try.
I mean, come on, my arm isn't a dartboard!
    Later, after waking up from the nap I didn't know I took, Mom's back and she's brought Moby Dick. I've read this one for an assignment in Literature class (that was pre-leukemia, of course).
    Mom and I finish out ANTM rerun and then, whoop-dee-doo, time for chemo. Mom sits in the chemo room with me every time I have to have my treatments. 
    I remember when I had my first treatment, I was so worried about losing my hair. To think, before I felt the pain of cancer, I'd decided I would rather be sick than lose my 'precious hair.' Now, I couldn't care less. Being bald is great! (Except the irritating pillows).
    Today, my chemo nurse was Lizzie. Lizzie was one of the good nurses too. She lets me eat and extra cup of pudding with my daily meds. Gotta love that! 
    I read all of Moby Dick and reread some of Romeo and Juliet before chemo was done. (I like the classics, okay?!) Lizzie brought me back to my room, although I could probably walk around this hospital backwards if I had to. But Lizzie insists she comes because 1) she wants to make sure I get back and don't get sidetracked and 2) so she can bring me my pudding, because she doesn't fully trust me to get it on my own after I took four last Wednesday (I was only hungry for pudding, what's so wrong with that?!).
    Once I choked down my lovely cocktail of meds and one or maybe two puddings, I get into bed and watch, yep you guessed it, ANTM. Mom left after we watched the episode where Vanessa gets kicked off. (We hated her so it was great!)
    Then I take a shower and brush my teeth before getting BACK into bed and watching more TV or possibly read. 
    The next morning I have Dr. Murphy's morning abundance of pokes and prods followed by Debs check in and Mom's visit and book drop-off. (Today is was Pride and Prejudice)
    After all that fun, I decide to wander the halls, because walking around a lonely hospital that smells like bleach screams fun. 
    I've been walking for a little while before I crash into someone. Someone new, I should know. I know every patient like the back of my hand. The someone is a boy, a tall boy, a tall boy who is staring at my head.
    I immediately pull the hood up on the jacket I'm wearing. I glare at the boy. He's got gray moonstone eyes and dusty chestnut hair. "You are?" I snap, not trying to be kind or welcoming at all. 
    "Um, I'm Drew," the boy answers, clearly taken aback by my annoyance. "Who're you?" Drew asks, not nearly as irritated as I am. I lean my weight onto my left leg and place my hand on my hip, power pose. "I'm Whitney." 
    Drew nods and walks right past me, peering back several times, thinking I don't notice. I roll my eyes so hard that I'm afraid I'll see my brain if I roll them one more time. 
    I stroll back to my room and Deb's in there waiting. "How was your walk Whit?" She asks this while taking my temperature with the annoying one that goes under your tongue. "Naw-hairr." I spit out, not quite reaching 'nowhere.'
    Deb laughs, "I've done this for so long, I speak fluent thermometer talk." I don't fully laugh, I'm still somewhat rattled by Drew. Deb doesn't notice. "Alright, you're all good!" Deb announces after listening to my heart.
    She leaves and I finish Romeo and Juliet. I hear a knock on my door. "Mom, you know you don't have to knock!" I yell. The door opens, in peeks Drew. "What? Why are, what are you doing in my room?!" I demand. He opens his mouth but no words come out. 
    "Well?!" I ask again. He just points to the door an mumbles "I, uh saw you come in here and I'm sorry for staring." Yeah, like that'll help. "Whatever," I retort and he looks, once again, very confused. "You can go now." I say, waving him away.
    "Oh, okay." He walks out the door. I notice he's left a book. Questions crawling around my brain, I stand up and snatch the book off the table.
    There's a sticky note left on it. "Whitney, sorry for being an idiot! From Drew (the idiot)" How cliched. The book is Lord of The Flies. Huh, I haven't read this one yet. I look up and see him wandering back down the hall in another direction, he's probably lost. 
    I stand up and when Drew walks past it for a third time, I whisper-shout, "Are you lost or just stalking my door?!" He smiles. "No, no. I just can't seem to find my book." I scoff. "You left it in my room with a conveniently placed note, hmm." Sarcasm edging into my speech.
    He laughs. "You really do NOT like me, do you?" Haha! He's got no idea. "Not in the least," I reply without hesitation. "So, you lost? Or stalker?" I ask once more. He doesn't answer so I spin on my heels and begin to walk into my room.
    He grabs my hand and I snap it away. "What the heck?!" I start to yell, before he places a hand over my mouth. "I'm sorry, really. Just, c'mere." C'mere, what terrible grammar. 
    I begrudgingly follow him to the fourth floor. After floor three, I was starting to get somewhat tired, but I hid it well. He leads me into a small room I'd never seen. Either it's new or I'm very nonobservant.
    Drew opens the door and I walk in. The light flicks on and my heart skips. There's shelves and shelves on end of books. "How could I have missed this?" I utter under my breath. I turn to Drew, "The hospital has a LIBRARY!?" The though has fully developed and I run (more or less) through the isles. 
    I see Shakespeare and Melville and Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott and all the other classics. "Wow," I gush. Drew is leaning against the wall, watching me run around the library. I turn back to him,"How'd you know about this?" I wonder out loud. He smiles (for like the eighth time). "I have been up here for a little while and I've been wandering around, so I've discovered a few things." 
    "Why have you been up here?" I ask, not thinking anything of it. He grimaces. I can tell it's a sensitive subject. Still curious, I sit beside him on the floor. "It's a rare condition called 'hypertrophic cardiomyopathy', or HCM, it's a heart muscle disease." I was still confused. He tells me that he was diagnosed a couple weeks ago. He can't leave the hospital (similar to me). 
    I don't know what suddenly possesses me, but I give Drew a soft kiss on the cheek. He turns to me and blushes. "Is, is it deadly?" I stutter, I scold myself mentally for doing so. He winces. "Uh, yeah. The doctors said if we don't operate then it's pretty much a death sentence." 
    After talking with Drew for a few minutes (ha, more like hours) Deb texts me and tells me to "Get down here right now, Whit!"
    Deb gives me my meds and pudding. "I'm pretty sure my body is 80% pudding." I joke. Deb chuckles and walks out the door. After finishing my meds, I go back up to floor four (this time, taking the elevator) I see a sign on one of the doors with Drew's name. 
    Before barging in, I look and make sure that 1) he's in there and 2) he's not getting vitals taken. I walk inside and Drew's sitting on his bed and reading Dracula, personally not my choice but oh well. He looks up and waves. I sit on the frumpy chair (that I'm pretty sure the hospital clones because it's got the same exact marks on it as mine and, like all the other ones in rooms.) "Here I thought you hated me." Drew teases. I shrug, "I did." He laughs. 
    We talk for a little while. Drew's nurse's name is Diane. She did chemo with me before. She's not as great as Deb and Lizzie, but she's nice.I snap a selfie of me kissing Drew on the cheek. All of the sudden, Drew's face turns really red, then somewhat blue. All the monitors are beeping and I rush to the door and scream for the doctor.
    An abundance of nurses and doctors spill in and I'm shoved out. I realize that tears are dashing down my pale cheeks. I look in the window and can't see Drew behind all the doctors. I pace outside the door and try to open it several times, but it's locked. 
    I eventually sit in the small waiting room which is conveniently placed right next to Drew's room. I stare at the selfie. I begin to sob. Mom texts me and asks where I am. "floor 4, waiting room beside room 864" 
    She comes in and doesn't even ask why I'm crying, which I guess she's learned that if I want her to know, I'll tell her. She lets my head rest in her lap and I fall asleep, the picture of Drew and me clutched to my chest.
    I wake up and I'm in my room. Groggy and tired, at first I don't remember but than it dawns on me. I jump up and run up the stairs, not wanting to take the time for the elevator. When I reach Drew's room, I'm panting and sweaty (which is quite sad really)
    I barge in the door and see that Drew is laying in his bed, asleep. The relief melts in my mind like a lemonade. He's got wires and cords and IVs sticking out of, looking like a Frankenstein monster. I see on his communication board that he's going into surgery today. 
    I creep into the library and find Frankenstein. How fitting. Book under my arm I slither back into Drew's room. I leave the book silently on his nightstand. Note saying "Don't you die on me! Love Whit." I kiss his softly on the forehead and take the elevator back to my room.
    I crawl back into bed, not tied enough no sleep though. So I watch ANTM. 
    I get a text from Deb, she's gonna bring me a book because Mom's got a cold and she doesn't want to get me sick. You gotta love Deb. 
    After Deb pops in and checks the normal, the book was A Tale of Two Cities by the way, I hop into the shower. Once I've showered, I tug on an old t shirt and pull on my gray shorts. I walk to the elevator and up to floor four I go. 
    Drew's awake and reading Frankenstein. I've done well, I think to myself. When I open the door he smiles his usual smile and I sit in my reserved clone chair next to his bed. 
    "You good?" I ask. He shrugs, "I've been better, and I've been worse." He answers, sifting in his bed so he can face me. I lean in and kiss him, not just on the cheek this time.
    When I lean back, Drew looks surprised. "Hate me still?" He jokes. I stand up and sit next to him on the bed. I let my head fall onto his shoulder. I kiss him again. "No, not at all." I reply,

Message to Readers

I know Whit and Drew's relationship developed quickly, I've gotten that in a review. I just think that the fact that both of them are (quite literally) slowly dying so they don't want to miss a thing. Even if it means speeding things up a bit.

Peer Review

First off, I think you did a spectacular job developing Whitney's "voice" in this piece. I was really able to see what kind of person Whitney is through everything that she's thinking, her dialogue, and how she deals with her situation. I can see that she's a strong individual, she's kind, she's funny, and, she's not afraid to say what she's thinking -- the fact that I'm able to determine all of this in just a matter of a couple thousand words says a lot about your writing, nice job! Also, I think that though Whitney and Drew's relationship develops quickly, it really adds to Whitney's character and strengthens the story. Through this, I was also able to see that she's making the most of her life, and doesn't hesitate. Ultimately, Whitney's character and attitude is probably what moved me most in the piece -- she is an incredibly strong and persistent protagonist that you've created. Awesome work!

Perhaps you could think about what impact it might have on this piece if your really delved into the setting. What does the hospital look like, what does it smell like, how does it sound? How does Whitney's room look, how does the setting of the hospital effect her? Maybe you could also consider elaborating more on where Whitney's love for books stemmed from -- did her mom read to her when she was little, does she feel comforted by the characters? By doing this, it might also add to the big reveal where Drew shows her the library. I also noticed some grammatical errors (shifting of tenses, italics, etc) throughout your piece, and though they don't take away from the story here, it's always helpful to know where they are. I pointed a few out, though a great free resource that is really helpful is Grammarly. I use it daily, and it automatically aligns with Write the World so that you can use it in the site -- I don't know what I'd do without it. :) However, feel no need to take these suggestions.

Reviewer Comments

Overall, this was a really fun piece to read and review, I loved Whitney's character!! Incredible job!!
If you have any questions about this review, feel free to let me know, and in the meantime, keep writing!! :)