I guess I forgot to mention that I went into remission. Well. I did. End of story, I guess. Now I just have to wait until it comes back. Chances are, it will. So I just look at it like, “what’s the harm in betting it’ll be back?”
And, for the first time, mom let me keep Percy in my room. She said it wouldn’t do any harm, but if I get sick, she’s out of the house for good.
Mom never really came to visit much over the last month. She had a bunch of excuses like, “Today is Cam’s volleyball game,” or, “I haven’t been shopping for groceries for two weeks, Jove!” So, finally, after three weeks of excuses, I gave up asking if she’d come.
So instead I made a few new friends. One is David. The second is Phoenix Sky Ryder. (And, no, I’m not making that name up.) I met her in the hospital’s lobby three days after David left.
There she was, sitting alone in a wheelchair, reading a Nick magazine. She wore a black knit cap on her head and her blonde hair fell past her shoulders. On her lap, there was a brown plush cat. (It looked at though it could have been white at one time and as though it had been furry, but there were only a few choppy patches.)
When she felt me looking at her, she looked up. Her eyes drilled me with a gaze that could have shamed a charging rhino. I looked away quickly and found a new Time and settled into a chair.
Since there was no point in me just hanging out in my room all the time and I felt alright that day, I’d decided to walk around a little. And my feet took me to the lobby. Weird place to go, I guess. But I’m glad that’s where I ended up, despite everything.
Next thing I knew, her wheelchair was right next to my chair and she was tugging a cap over my now bald head. All I could do was stare at her, questions caught on my tongue.
All she said was, “It suits you.”
“Thanks,” I said as I reached up and touched it.
“It’s dark green. Sorry. It was the last color of yarn I had. If you want a new one, I can get my mom to—“
“No, it’s perfect.” I smiled. “Did you make it yourself?”
We were silent for a while as I glanced through the magazine, but I couldn’t just ignore her like that.
But I wasn’t sure what to say. She didn’t even know me and she’d given me a hat already.
Then she asked, “What’s your name?”
I tossed the magazine onto the table to my other side. “Jove Caraway.”
“Jove.” She tilted her head to one side. “That was what Jupiter was called sometimes. Any middle name?”
“No. You have a name too, cap-girl?”
“Phoenix Sky Ryder.” And she gave me a look. “Cap-girl?”
I gave her a look back. “Phoenix?”
Her eyes softened and I thought I could see the traces of a smile cross over them. “Yeah. My real name is Phoebe Sky Ryder. But that just sounds stupid. So I changed it.”
“Oh. Well. I was never “Jupiter” or anything.”
She poked me. “Who would ever name their kid Jupiter?”
“You don’t know my mom.”
She nodded. “Very true.”
We were quiet again while we watched a young couple leave with a baby.
“So.” She finally said. “Jove. How old are you?”
“Thirteen. Not much of a talker, are you?”
“You either,” I smirked.
She shrugged. “Well.”
And that was it. That was all we said to each other before she asked me to take her back to her room.
“My arms get too tired pushing these darn wheels,” she explained. After we got to her room and I was about to open the door, she swatted my hand. “Come tomorrow. What’s your favorite color?”
“Um . . . navy blue.”
“Okay, I’ll have my mom pick up some more yarn.” She opened the door herself and wheeled through. Before she closed the door, she said, “and you’d better come tomorrow, Jove No-Middle-Name Caraway.”
“I will,” I said. “But you really don’t need to make—“
The door shut in my face. “A new hat . . .” I muttered at the wall.