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Breaking the Cycle Post Seven

Being Friday night it is kickboxing Friday.  Get well soon, Keoni!!

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Max drove down the interstate barely paying attention to the road.  For the last week and a half he couldn’t get Chloe out of his mind.  Her laughter on their date echoed in his ears.  Seeing her so sick she couldn’t recognize him twisted a knife in his heart.  Seeing her running from Roadie’s Gym in tears made him feel helpless and pathetic.  Not knowing how she was, what she was doing was driving him insane.

He glanced briefly at his smart phone for the time but instead caught the date.  Thursday.  He quickly ran dates in his head.  He paused for a moment.  Should I see if my hunch is right?  Can I handle what I’m going to find?  He nudged his turn signal on as he caught the next exit out of the corner of his eye.

Max turned the car off and stepped out.  He stared at the old, large white house for a moment before he jogged up the porch steps.  He knocked on the door and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  He heard the television on inside.  Someone was home.  He knocked again.

The front door was wrenched open violently.  It’s the witch.  Chloe’s mom glared at him.  He could feel her eyes sear through him. 

“Is Chloe home?” Max asked, his voice cracking weakly.

“Now’s not a good time, Mike.”

“Max.”

“Whatever.  Get off my porch.”

He glanced down at the stains covering her sweatshirt.  “Is she sick?”

“She’s in the bathroom.  Check for yourself.”

Max squeezed past her and wandered into the house.  His neck snapped around at the sound of retching from upstairs.  He took the steps two at a time and came to a stop at the bathroom door.

Chloe laid on the cold tile floor of the bathroom with a bucket near her.  Her head laid on a rolled up towel.  She didn’t turn to look at him.  She looks about aware of me as she was in that alley.  Her body started to writhe as she vomited again.

He knelt beside her and held her in his arms, helping her to the bucket to keep the mess off the floor.  When the retching stopped she slumped against him weakly.  He pushed a sweat soaked lock of brown hair from her forehead as he gazed at her pale, sunken face.

“So, want to stick around?” Chloe’s mom hissed from the doorway.  “She’s not done yet.  Are you all right with your precious expensive athletic wear getting all messed up?”

Max held her tighter to him as he scowled at woman.  “Yes.  They’re just clothes.  They wash.”

Chloe’s mom stared at him dumbfounded for several moments.  Max felt Chloe jerk against him again.  He supported her as she vomited again.  “So, this is what happens every three weeks.”

“Yes.”

“Do you have to take her to the hospital?”

“Hopefully not.”  Chloe’s mom watched him silently for a few moments as he settled Chloe back into his arms.  “My name is Liz.”

“Nice to meet you, Liz.”

She smiled at him.  “Can I get you a soda?”

“A glass of water would be fine.”

“Sure.  I’ll be right back.”  Liz disappeared down the hall.  Max listened to her footsteps pat down the steps.  He turned back to Chloe, gently stroking her cheek.  She relaxed, the tension that once ripped through her now dissolving.  Max shifted, crossing his legs to get more comfortable on the hard floor.  Liz reappeared, stepping over the two of them to sit on the edge of the bathtub.  She handed the glass to him.

“She seems to have relaxed,” Max murmured.

“That’s good news.  Hopefully she’s done.”

“Then?”

“She’ll be out for a little while.”

He glanced around at the puddles on the floor and the fluid in the bucket.  I can see why.

They sat in silence for nearly a half hour.  Liz smile.  “She’s done.”

Max cradled Chloe in his arms and carefully stood.  He glanced down at Liz.  “Where’s her room?”

Liz rose and motioned to him.  “Follow me.”

He followed her to a white painted room.  The furniture was also painted white and the bed was covered with a rose colored quilt.  Max pulled the quilt back and gently laid Chloe on the sheets.  He covered her with the quilt then pressed a kiss to her forehead.  He glanced at Liz as he strode from the room.

“You’re leaving?” Liz asked incredulously as she spun to follow him.

She stopped short as he walked into the bathroom and knelt on the floor.  He looked at her from over his shoulder.

“Do you have a towel or scrub brush or soap or anything for this?” He motioned to the puddles.

He met her stunned gaze evenly then smiled as she rushed down the hallway to get him a scrub brush and soap.

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Breaking the Cycle – Post Six

my foot

I went to kickboxing class tonight.  We sparred with the punching bag as I learned to kick.  Unfortunately I haven’t quite grasped the concept to connect with my shin, not my foot.  So now, as you can see, my foot is swelling and a bruise is forming near my big toe.

I really, really love my kickboxing class!! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

So with it being kickboxing night I am inspired to post the next part of Breaking the Cycle.  Unfortunately, like my post for Tuesday Tales this week, it’s not a happy one…

Max stared into space, distracted by his thoughts.  He snapped back to attention as he heard his name called.

“Max, dude!  A little help here please?”

Max shook himself back to reality then grasped the bench press bar, lifting it from the hands of the struggling body builder.  The muscle bound man turned and glared at him.  “You Ok, buddy?”

“Yeah, fine,” Max answered.  But he was far from fine.  All he could think about was his date with Chloe.  Epic disaster.  He felt like a complete jerk for not going back to the hospital to see if she was all right.  Not that her mother would let me.  That witch would have thrown me out herself.  On top of all that the doctor’s warning to get as far away from Chloe kept ringing in his ears.

Maybe the doctor was right.  Maybe he needed to get as far away from Chloe as possible.  She certainly didn’t want him.

He turned as he caught something out of the corner of his eye.  Speaking of the devil…  Chloe shuffled across the fitness area towards the employee locker room.  She was ghostly pale and her shoulders were hunched.  Her eyes, shaded with dark circles under her eyes, were glued to the floor.

“Chloe, can I talk to you a minute?’ Roadie called.

She raised her head.  Slowly she crossed the fitness center floor to him.

“You are a valuable asset to this company,” Roadie began, his booming voice silencing treadmills and weight machines.  Max looked around at all the faces focused on the scene.  “But I need you here to be that asset.”

“I know, Roadie,” Chloe protested.  “I’ve been sick.”

“It seems you are always sick, Chloe.  Which makes me question how someone so physically fit can always be so sick.”

Chloe couldn’t answer him.  She bit her lower lip as tears filled her eyes.  Roadie continued.

“I’m going to have to let you go, Chloe.  Please clean out your locker.”

Chloe sobbed as she spun on her toe and dashed for the locker room.  Slowly the whirl of elliptical and stationary bikes filled the air again.  Max stormed towards Roadie and grasped the older man by the shoulder.

“That was uncalled for, Roadie,” he growled.

“What, Max?  You’ve covered enough of her classes to realize she had to go.”

“You publicly humiliated her!  And for the record, she was sick.  She was in the hospital.”

“Yes, her mother informed me quite loudly.  What would you want me to do?”

“She was sick every third Thursday like clockwork.  Even I figured that out.  Maybe you could have picked up on her pattern and just given her that day off?  Or was that too simple?”

Roadie’s eyes drew to slits as he glared at Max.  “If you’d like to join Chloe on the unemployment line keep it up.”

Max stared angrily at him in silence for several moments before he stalked off to the free weights area.

Breaking The Cycle – Post Five

Confession time – when I wrote this next section I was afraid I wasn’t going to do it justice.  I have only been the observer of a child – not a suffering adult.  But in the past few days I’ve read a post from a young woman who suffers from CVS who cannot get the proper treatment.  The doctors treat her like a drug addict, not like a person with a chronic illness even though she’s been diagnosed.  That convinced me it was time to go forward and post this.  

Warning!  When I started writing this I did say there might be some uncomfortable spots of this story.  This is one of them.

alley

Max wandered down the city streets of downtown Minneapolis searching for Chloe.  Traffic and pedestrians made his search nearly impossible.  After twenty minutes he stopped and exhaled exasperated.  She must have found a way home.

 He turned his head as he heard a noise in an alley behind a grocery store.  His better sense told him to stop, to stay there.  Looking in dark alleys in the middle of major metropolitan areas was suicide.  Something inside him fought to pull him in.  He followed the instinct and journeyed into the shadows.

The sound grew louder.  It wasn’t the sound of crying or violence.  It wasn’t the sound of a wayward cat.  It was the sound of retching.  And it came from behind a dumpster.  The one weak street lamp hanging from behind the grocery store revealed a strappy sandal attached to a limp foot.  Max leapt into a sprint until he reached the dumpster.

Chloe laid half in and half out of a puddle, her beautiful burgundy dress ruined in the stagnant, putrid water.  Her hair was matted to her face with her barrette hanging by one thin lock.  What had originally been her dinner piled near her pale face.  Her face contorted as she began to vomit again.

“Chloe!”  Max knelt beside her, scooping her into his arms.  He stared into her face.  Her eyes were vacant.  It’s as if she doesn’t know where she is or who I am. He shook her gently.   “Chloe, hey!  Wake up!”

She responded by turning her head and vomiting what little was in her stomach into his shirt.  She collapsed onto his chest, her breath labored.

“I don’t know what is wrong with you, but you need to go to the hospital.”  Max picked Chloe up, cradling her in his arms.  He carefully made his way down the city streets to his car.

hospital

Max wasn’t sure just how fast he drove.  He pulled his car into the first available spot in the parking lot of the emergency room.  Chloe retched the entire ride to the hospital, her stomach long past empty.  Her lips were starting to turn dry, her skin grew paler.  Whatever illness she came down with hit her quick and hard.  Max was just thankful he had an empty plastic bag in his backseat for her to throw up into.

He lifted her from her seat and raced into the emergency room, holding her close to him as he ran.

He stopped breathlessly at the receptionist’s desk.  The receptionist handed him a clipboard without taking her eyes off her computer screen.  A growl escaped his throat as he struggled to grasp the clipboard from beneath the limp woman in his arms.  He dropped into a chair in the waiting area setting Chloe in the seat next to him.  He stared blankly at the form demanding vital information on Chloe.  He filled out her name and address and returned it to the receptionist.

He reached into the purse he had found next to Chloe and pulled out her cell phone.  He scrolled through her address book until he reached her mom’s number.  He dialed it and waited quietly.  He took a deep breath as the voicemail popped on.  He left a brief message then ended the call.  He dropped the phone on the floor as he shot across the room to grab a trash can for her to throw up into.

Max picked up Chloe as the nurse called her name and followed close behind as she led him into a treatment room.  He laid Chloe onto the gurney then watched nervously as the nurse took her vitals.  The nurse dropped a basin onto Chloe’s lap as she started again.  How can one woman throw up this much?

The emergency room doctor swept in as the nurse finished up.  He looked up at Chloe and moaned.  “Great.  Not her again.  Start her on IV fluids and Zofran.”

“What do you mean ‘not her again’?” Max demanded.

The doctor scanned him from head to toe.  “Who are you?”

“Max.  Max Thomas.”

“And you are with her why?”

“I took her on a date.  Why is it any of your business?”

The doctor chuckled.  “Dude, let me give you some advice.  Run.  Don’t get into it with this girl.  She has some massive baggage.  She is constantly in here looking for attention doing,” he waved his hand at the limp Chloe, “this.  Forcing herself to throw up.  She is going to cling to you like a second skin.  So get out while you can.”  Max glared at him as the doctor pried her mouth open with a gloved thumb.  “Yep, she went too far this time.  She’s dehydrated.”  He turned to the nurse.  “Call upstairs and have them prepare a room.  She’s staying.”

The doctor disappeared around the corner with the nurse leaving Max alone with Chloe.  Chloe was the least clingy person Max knew.  When she wasn’t happily interacting with her clients and co-workers on a professional basis she was quiet and kept to herself.  What the doctor just didn’t make sense to him.

“Who are you?”

Max spun around.  An older woman stood in the doorway, her icy stare piercing through him.

“I’m Max.”

“And you’re standing here with my daughter why?”

Max glanced from her to Chloe.  “I took her on a date.  I don’t know what happened.”

The older woman sneered at him.  “Well, Max, you can leave.  I’ll take care of my daughter now.  You wouldn’t know how to handle the imbeciles that work here.”

Max stared at her in disbelief for several moments.  He took one last look at Chloe before he slipped from the room.

Tuesday Tales – Picture Prompt: Red Gift

First of all, I so apologize.  I left last week as a cliffhanger and this week’s picture prompt just didn’t want to work with that.  So this week’s Tuesday Tale is from another project I am working on – one that is near to my heart and I hope to finish soon.

red gift

Rico limped on his cane across the sterile hospital room.  His smile widened as he placed the small red box in Max’s hand.

“I came to return this to you,” Rico informed Max as he winked.  “Maybe you should show Zoey.  I think she’d like to see it.”

“Rico,” Max warned.  “Now is not the time.”

“I would like to see it.”

Max turned, his warm brown eyes meeting Zoey’s.  Her blue eyes glowed hopefully against her pale skin.

Max’s heart clenched in his chest.  He couldn’t put this pressure on Zoey, not while she was lying in this hospital.  The stress this kind of step could cause would really do Zoey harm.  It would certainly set off her CVS*.

“Zoey, I promise.  I will show you later.  Not here.”

Zoey’s face fell.  “Why not here?”

“Zoey, sweetheart, please.”

“Max, just show me.”

“You need to show her, Max,” Rico chimed in.

Max shot a glare at Rico.  He slowly exhaled as he approached Zoey’s hospital bed.  He gently opened the red wrapped box and turned it towards Zoey.  Inside, nestled in a seat of velvet, was the most beautiful diamond Zoey had ever seen.

“Max, it’s beautiful!” Zoey glowed.

“I’m glad you like it.”

“Who is it for?”

Max paused.  “For you, Zoey.”

“Me?”

“I wanted to take you to dinner then to the lake.”

“To do what?”  Butterflies swarmed in Zoey’s stomach.  If the IV stuck in the back of her hand hadn’t been pumping anti-nausea drugs through her veins, Zoey knew she would be sick to her stomach right now.

Max slowly dropped his knee to the tile floor as he held the ring out to Zoey.  “Marry me, Zoey.  I love you with all I am.  I love you just the way you are.  Be my wife.”

For those of you wondering what CVS is, this is a link to the Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Website.

And for more incredible romantic short stories – Tuesday Tales