Phase Two: Never Say Die
She had come back again and again for three months straight. He tried to block her using doctors and nurses, but they’d turned on him, giving her access to his room whenever she wanted to stop by. Sebastien remembered when he was at the helm of his tech company, he could successfully argue down prices and debate what was useful and what was garbage, but this woman argued him into silence. If his answer wasn’t what she wanted to hear, she’d cut him off. But he was in a vulnerable state, always tired, tired enough for her to convince him to have his hair shaved off. He’d often find clumps of hair on his pillow when he woke up some mornings. Sure he’d made the decision to die, but his appearance was beginning to claw at his pride.
Sebastien was beginning to wonder what Karmen thought of him. Entertaining the notion of love at a time like this would cripple him even more if she rejected his interest in her. Besides, it was too soon to jump heart first into a relationship that wasn’t going to happen anyway. He didn’t know what he wanted, to live or die. Karmen sparked hope in him when he wanted to fade away.
“I haven’t done anything.”
“Can’t decide whether to live or die, huh?”
“How did you…”
“You were talking out loud,” Karmen added flatly.
“How much did you hear?”
“Depends. What wasn’t I supposed to hear?”
“Nevermind.” he turned his head away.
“I’m curious, have you always been this cowardly?”
“I beg your pardon?” Sebastien snapped his attention back to her angelic face. “I’ll have you know I’ve nothing to hide.”
“Then why’d you initially want to die?”
“Why does it matter to you?”
“Is it because of a woman?” Men acting irrationally usually begins and ends with an involvement of a female. Karmen took Sebastien’s refusal to answer as a green check mark. “What did she do to you?”
“I’d rather not talk about it.”
“I’ll tell you something I’ve never told anyone else in exchange for your cooperation.”
“No deal. My private life is just that- private.”
“I’ve been on my own since I was fifteen. My mother had countless cycles of men coming in and out the house. One let himself into my room and tried taking advantage of me. She chose men, drugs over flesh and blood, so I left. I figured I’d spare her conscience so she could at least live with the fact of knowing she hadn’t officially chosen to kick her daughter out onto the streets. I lived on the streets a while before finding a group of squatters. It’s amazing the food a person can find it one was pointed in the direction. Thanks to them I didn’t starve to death. I never knew my father and the burning question everyone wants to know, yes I am a virgin. I’ve never been in love. I don’t know if it exists for me. When you’ve seen the worst of humanity, how can one trust, putting their heart, life on the line?”
“Love… it isn’t what you think, it isn’t dark.”
“Really, isn’t love or rather the lack of it the reason you want to die?”
“No, it’s, it’s…” Sebastien struggled to find the right words though Karmen was spot on. If he hadn’t been trapped by love, he wouldn’t have ended up here.
“If marriage is in the cards for me, I don’t want my family ripped apart. Motherhood scares me the most…”
“You shouldn’t be afraid to fall in love or become a mother. You got being bossy down to a science.”
“I’m not bossy.”
“And I don’t have cancer.” he jested.
“Speaking of ailments, I wondered why I’ve never seen you up on your feet, you’re paralyzed.”
“From the waist down.”
“Doctor said it’s permanent.”
“Do you believe that, because I don’t?”
“They know the body better than I do.”
“But they don’t know everything. They’re not God.”
“Funny you mention Him. Where was he when a truck slammed into my car?”
“I’m not some religious nut, but if I can live through tough times, then I believe you can as well.”
“How do you have so much faith?”
“I don’t know. Suppose I have a never say die spirit. I want the best for you so that means you shouldn’t settle. Explore all your options then make decisions based off that. Doesn’t hurt.”
“But how can you still have faith in people when you’ve been betrayed by your girlfriend?”
“I never said I was betrayed by anyone.”
Karmen sent him a knowing glance and smirked. “You didn’t have to. You’re funny by the way,” she said, shaking her head.
“Never found myself to be a funny guy.”
“Well, you are with all the hiding and denying.”
“I’m not hiding. But to answer your question, people are worth investing in, the trick is to find the right people.”
“Where are your people? Family?”
“They don’t know I’m here.” he shamefully admitted.
“See, with the hiding again. Do they know that your girlfriend abandoned you?”
“Where do you get this stuff? You have an overactive imagination.” As overactive as her imagination may be, she was right, again!
“When do you plan on getting honest?”
“You know what-”
“Forget it. Just keep in mind, we have a lot of work to get through. First, we eradicate your cancer, then we get you on your feet, walking.”
“I just, really… slow down. You don’t govern anything here.”
“I do, actually. Your doctor told me that I’m good for your recovery. Apparently, there’s been progress on your behalf. So, I’m staying and you don’t have a say.”
“That’s illegal. You and no one else can go beyond my wishes.”
“Your wishes are good and shot to pieces, and you’re welcome.”
“For saving your life. You don’t know what’s good for you unless you’re told.”
“I can’t believe someone like you exists.”
“You’re not the only person who have experienced cancer or have been let down and betrayed by a loved one. I didn’t have anyone at my bedside pushing me through my sickness. It’s time for you to fight, start over, make your future better than your current.”
“Anyone can claim they’ve battled cancer, but I require proof.”
“I don’t have a reason to lie about something as heinous as breast cancer.”
“Prove it.” he challenged.
There was only one way Sebastien would believe Karmen and that’d leave her exposed and ashamed. He called her a fraud to her face and she could not let that pass. Awkwardly, standing to her feet, Karmen slowly lifted and tugged the shirt over her head and let it drop to the floor like a wilted rose petal. Next, she wrenched her arms around her back, fingers feeling for clasps and unfastened her bra. Slipping the fabric from her shoulders, she let it glide down her arms leaving her torso exposed.
Looking away, she lamented, “My scars should give you all the proof you need.” Karmen had a double mastectomy then reconstructive surgery not long after. He stared at her with an amazement only a woman could trigger in a man. She looked fearless even though her gaze didn’t meet his. There was nothing else he could pin her against as she would always best him.
“You wanted proof.”
“I’ve got all I need.” Sebastien couldn’t pull his eyes away, yes she had scars but they were minimal, barely noticeable, but the reconstruction looked seamless. If for a second she thought she wasn’t beautiful, she was dead wrong. Men had to be blind not to see what a knockout she was with or without clothing.
Quietly, Karmen slipped on and refastened her bra and pulled her shirt back over her head onto her body before giving stern orders. “We kill cancer first then get you up walking. I won’t leave you by yourself, promise. That means you can’t give up or else, you’ll never get rid of me.”
“I guess I’m not going to win against you.”
“Then I don’t want to see any tears when things get really ugly.”
© privatethoughtsmadepublic. 2017.
Part 3 here: Seasons Series: Love Made in a Room