A sigh reverbrated the room as Aubrey once again recounted the practice.
"See? How do you expect me to let her race when she can't even go to practice withought something happening?" The words stabbed the air between her parents,
"Mom, It was pretty simple. I lost focus, my bike followed and I carshed. It happens all the time, I just need to focus." Aubrey cut in, her gaze switching between her parents.
"Carol. You don't understand. Aubrey need to race." Aubrey's Dad offered softly, "Everything's going to be ok." Her father sighed before continuing, "How would you feel if you were dying, your whole world collapsing around you, being torn from you piece by piece? You don't have long to stay in this world and you just want to savor every moment that you can. But then someone forces you away from those moments of freedom, those moments free of Chemo and forces you to stay home. Forces you to be abnormal, to tuck everything you loved and cared about away because you're "sick" or "not capable". But how do they know? They haven't even given you a chance, yet they still expect you to give it up without trying. Imagine how you would feel. Because that's what you're doing to Aubrey. All I'm saying is give her a chance."
Moments passed in silence that ached with anticipation. Aubrey watched as her mother's eyes moistened, leaking over the edges of her face as she considered her father's words. Salty rivers travelling an uncertain path. Much like Aubrey.
"Carol. Do you understand what I'm saying?" Her father inquired,
Aubrey's Mom nodded. "Can Aubrey race this season?" Her gaze flitted between Aubrey and her father as she considered this.
"Yes." Her voice was thick and barely a whisper, "Yes, I think she can."
Aubrey released the breath she didn't even realize she'd been holding. She was grinning now, a bright and luminescent smile that painted her face.
She was going to race.
Aubrey groaned, heaving for yet another time that night. She hadn't made it to practice that evening, the icy fingers of pain gripping to tightly to enable movement. The Chemo was taking a toll on her body and she knew it.
A headache spliced her conscience, stabbing behind her eyes and blurring her vision. A notification sliced through the heavy silence of her room. Groaning she reached to see who it was. Forcing her eyes to focus, she sighed when she read Carter's name.
"Hey, Aubrey. Just thought I'd check on you. You weren't at practice today. And I hope you know that you can always talk to me."
Aubrey smiled, slowly typing as she considered her response. "Thanks Carter. I've honestly had better days, but I was too sick to ride, so I didn't make it."
His response was quick, "What's wrong?" The questions stabbed and pulled in too many ways and Aubrey wasn't sure how to respond.
"Someone decide to turn my world upsidedown." Her answer revealed the trender feelings she was trying to pent up.
"Are you ok?" There was a pause before her phone lit up again, "And please tell me the truth."
Aubrey starred at the screen for a moment. Should she tell him? What should she say? What would he do when he found out? Would he act any differently? A war raged among the various sides of her conscience, throwing out questions, inquiring at the details.
Before she could decide, she'd responded. "I was diagnosed with Acute lymphocytic leukemia six weeks ago."
"I'm sorry." Carter's words oozed with sympathy and ignited a flame of frustration, sharpening her next response.
"Don't be sorry. You have nothing to be sorry for."
"Ok...Are you still going to race?" His question was slow to come, hinting at the hesitance hidden in the words.
"Yes. You don't think I can?" Her question almost seemed to leak with a suttle challenge.
"Good. I think you should. And you can do anything. So I have no doubt that you can race this season and race well."
A smile slipped across Aubrey's lips, "I'm still faster than you though."
"You? Never! You couldn't beat a snail!" The words were playful, and for once in a very long time a laugh bubbled from Aubrey's lips. Soft and suttle at first before turning into a symphony of giggled that filled the room.