Delainey tapped lightly on the half-opened door as she poked her head around to see if the patient in the bed was resting. She grinned when she saw the pale girl in the bed motion for her to come in. “Hi, I’m in the room next door and thought I should make my rounds.”
Struggling to sit up, the girl offered her hand. “I’m Kristi. Making rounds, isn’t that what doctors do?”
Giggling, Delainey shook her hand then plopped into a nearby chair. “Well, sometimes I think I’m here more than the doctors so I try to get around and see the other patients at least a couple of times a day. I get seizures and shake all over and have to come in a lot so the doctors can adjust my medicine. Sometimes I like to use the medical lingo. So what are you in for?”
Kristi shrugged her shoulders and her eyes welled with tears. “They don’t know what’s wrong with me. I get tired easily and want to sleep all day plus my nose starts gushing blood for no reason. They thought it might be leukemia but it definitely isn’t that. They come and poke me all the time and draw more blood. No wonder everyone comments on how pale I am.”
Nodding vigorously, Delainey pushed up the sleeves of her gown and exposed the purple and brown bruises that speckled her arms. “I call the phlebotomist the vampire.”
Crinkling her eyebrows, Kristi stifled a small giggle. “Phle-bot-o-mist? Is that what they’re called?”
“Vampire is easier to say. I’m eleven. How old are you?”
“I’ll be ten in two days.” Kristi’s voice quivered and she squeezed her eyes tight.
“I’m sorry; am I tiring you out?” Delainey bent her knees to push herself out of the chair when Kristi reached out and grabbed her arm.
“Please stay. It’s so lonely here. Mom had to pick up my sister from school.” She swiped away a tear. “It’s just we were supposed to have a huge picnic for my birthday but the doctors said I won’t be discharged until at least Monday. I’m going to miss all of the fun.” She rolled her eyes and sighed. “The nurse said I could have it in my room but that’s not a picnic; that’s lunch. Duh!”
Delainey nodded in agreement. “What’s your favorite part of a picnic?”
Kristi tucked her chin into her chest. “It’s silly but my favorite part is watching the bugs, really the ants. They work so hard and never give up. Ever since I started feeling sick, Mom has been singing this goofy song that is like a million years old. She took a deep breath and belted it out. "Just what makes that little old ant think he’ll move that rubber tree plant? Anyone knows an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant."
Swinging her arms out, Delainey joined in. "But he’s got high hopes. He’s got high hopes."
Just then the door swung open and a nurse marched in. “What’s that racket?” Her eyes rested on Delainey as her lips slightly pulled up at the corners and her eyes sparkled. “I should’ve known--Delainey! You need to get back to your bed and rest.”
The girls waved to each other and Delainey winked. “I’ll be back.”
Two days later, the nurse came into Kristi’s room with a wheelchair. “Hop in, kiddo.“
Groaning, Kristi climbed out of bed and sat in the wheelchair. “Please tell me that this test won’t hurt. Can’t we wait for Mom?”
After shaking her head no, the nurse wheeled Kristi down the hall and into the conference room. Kristi’s jaw dropped as she saw balloons, a red-checkered tablecloth, and all kinds of food spread out on the balcony.
Delainey jumped out from behind the corner. “Surprise! It’s not exactly the picnic you wanted but it is outdoors so we can feel the sunshine and the wind will blow through our hair.”
Squealing, Kristi jumped up and hugged Delainey. Just then she saw the rest of her family out on the balcony. “Oh, this is almost perfect.”
Delainey punched her lightly on the shoulder. “Almost? You don’t know me very well. I don’t ever do anything halfway.” She reached into her bag and pulled out a huge ant farm.
The girls’ eyes met and they both started singing. "He’s got high hopes. He’s got high hopes. He’s got high, apple-pie-in-the-sky, hopes."
*High Hopes sung by Frank Sinatra and written by Cahn/Van Huesen
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