“I’m not saying it has to be this big thing, but I want to be married to you, Sophia. It’s important to me.”
She said nothing, but another tear escaped down her cheek, splashing onto the pillow he had brought into the hospital for her. Anything to make her slightly more comfortable.
After the longest time and as though it took every ounce of strength she had within her, she murmured softly, “How can I marry you, when I don’t know how long I have left?”
Brodie dropped to his knees beside her and took her sweet porcelain cheeks in his hands. “Sophia, you don’t need to know that and even if you only had a few hours left, I’d still want you to marry me. You’re the love of my life. However long or short that life is.”
“You're the love of mine. That’s the only reason I’m saying no. Because you deserve so much more than this. You should have the fairy tale, Brodie. Someone to wake up next to you every day and snuggle up with you every night. As much as it breaks my whole heart to say it, that can’t be me.”
“We’re all going to leave this world behind at some point, I’m simply asking you to please do it as my wife. That way, everyone will know how important you are to me. And, for the record, I don’t believe you only have months left. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over again. There’s still hope, Sophia. There’s always hope and I don’t know how, but I truly believe that by some miracle, you are going to have a long and happy life. One day this will all be a distant dream and the two of us will be snuggled up somewhere, planning our future together.”
Right on cue, as though to remind him that was never going to happen, she grabbed the cardboard bowl next to her bed and threw up into it.
He stroked her back as her frail body convulsed and felt every wretch deep in his gut.
“Brodie,” she whispered as she placed the bowl full of sick down next to her and wiped the back of her hand over her mouth.
“It’s alright, you’re alright.” He stroked a chocolate-coloured tendril away from her face and forced a smile to reassure her.
“I can’t do this anymore.” She gagged, but swallowed and didn't throw up again. “I had imagined I'd still be able to work. Look at me?” She shook her head. “Look! I don’t even know who I am anymore. The sickness on top of the treatment leaves me with nothing.” She made a shaking gasp almost like a sob. “I haven't been able to plan anything for – for months and you know it’s more than just a job to me.” She pressed her hands to her heart. “It was my dream. My identity. I’ve already lost this battle because I've lost me.”
Her tiny shoulders shook, but no tears fell from her eyes. Either her body was too weak to make them or she simply has none left to cry.
“You’re thinking too much about the future. All you need to do is get through each day.”
“I’m not sure I can. I’ve even thought about giving up on dialysis altogether.”
“What?” he snapped.
“Think about it. Every day I get to live is another day that I grow further away from the me I used to be. What’s going to be left of me after all of this? How realistic is it that a donor will come forward? I don’t want to simply be kept alive, Brodie. I want to live.”
Now, it was Brodie’s turn to cry, or at least get upset, but he did neither. The only emotion in his veins was blood red anger. “Don’t you say that, Sophia. Don’t you dare fucking say you’ve thought about giving up.” He lurched to his feet and paced the room, running a hand through his hair before burying his face behind his palms and dropping into the leather chair beside her bed. Its intention was to bring comfort, but he never wanted to sit in it again.
“I’m sorry,” she murmured.
But he knew her well enough to know it was a lie. He didn’t believe she was sorry at all. In his view, Sophia was giving up on herself, which meant she was giving up on them. On him. “How can I fight for us if you’re not even willing to try?”
“I am trying. That’s why I’m here day in and day out on this damn machine. But, I’m exhausted and sick of being sick. Some days I feel like I’m already gone.”
“But you’re not. You’re still here and I’m right here with you.”
“I know. Half of me is happy about that.” She admitted.
“Half?” Sliding his hands down her cheeks so he could make eye contact with her, Brodie studied her frail face.
“The other half hates it because I feel I’m taking you down with me. I don’t want to suck the life out of you. It’s not natural for someone your age to spend every spare moment they get in this place.”
“You’re not doing any of this. None of it is a choice, Sophia.”
Silence filled the air between them. Their energy spent both physically and mentally. Her illness had taken so much from them already. Their dreams, their future–But Brodie would do everything in his power to stop it from stealing theirnow. If today’s were all they had left, then he was determined to find a way to live each and every one of them to the fullest.
“Will you at least think about it?”
She forced a small smile. It wasn’t her real one, and he knew it. Even the fake version lifted his spirits, reminding him she was still his beautiful girl and feeding the tiny little hope monster that lived within him, bitch slapping him in the face whenever he was on the brink of breaking down and whooping his arse on days like today, but growing louder and stronger with each little forced smile, sassy comeback and twinkle in her eyes when they met with his.
It growled louder than his stomach did to remind him he’d not eaten yet today. His mind was just about to wander to food options when she murmured the words he really needed to hear.
“I’ll think about it.”