Kate McNamara Mainstream
6417 NW 34th Drive Words
Gainesville, FL 32653
Mary Fallon Fleming
“Take it away. Take it away!” I say. The nurse takes the tray of food out of the room. I am ill. I cannot eat hospital food. I dare anyone to try and make me.
I take the remote control off the bed sheets. The sheets are white, white, everything in this room is white. Everything except all the flowers everyone sent me, and the presents. The top of the bureau is stacked with boxes from clothing stores and toy stores. And the best of all is the big black-and-white panda bear with the red bow. He’s really big, bigger than all my bears. I flip through the TV channels until I find some cartoons. The Power Puff Girls, and then I’ll watch “Zoom”. After that, while the nurses are busy passing out trays, I’ll go downstairs to the machines and get myself two Milky Way bars.
During the commercial I look out my door, and I see another girl in a wheelchair. She’s not looking at me. I can see the back of her head, and she’s bald. It’s funny looking, and I stare. She must feel something from me looking at her, because she turns around and sees me. She is holding a small teddy bear, a raggedy old thing.
“Hi,” she says. She smiles. “What’s your name?”
“Clara,” I say. “What’s yours?”
“Sam,” says the girl.
She gets up out of the wheelchair and comes into my room, the teddy bear squashed against her chest. “Look at all these flowers! Look at all this stuff you got!” She goes to the bureau and admires the panda.
“How old are you?” I say.
“Nine,” she says. “How old are you?”
“When are you going home?” she says.
“Me too!” she says. We both smile.
“What was wrong with you?” says Sam.
“I had pneumonia. What about you?”
“I had cancer,” she says.
“Oh,” I say. “Did you get flowers?”
“No,” says Sam. “I’m here a lot. People don’t send flowers anymore.”
“But you’re better, right?” I say.
She smiles. “Yeah. The doctors told my mom I’m cured.”
“That’s great!” I say. We smile. The nurse comes and tells Sam her lunch is cold.
My mom comes and brings me a burger. I send away the dinner tray.
Mom leaves and I think about Sam. I watch TV and think about how she looked in that wheelchair, with that little raggedy teddy of hers. I look at the panda, and I have an idea. I think about it all night long so I can hardly sleep. My mom comes to get me in the morning.
“Wait Mom,” I say, as we’re ready to go, “there’s something I have to do.” I grab the panda and look for the nurse. “Could you get Sam for me? I have something for her.”
“I’m sorry, but Sam passed away last night.”
My mouth drops open. I reach for my mother and cry “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.”