Hannah got home, but instead of parking her
bike and going inside to tell Joe and her mother
and the rest of her world that she might be
dying, she rode straight past. She wasn’t ready
to go home yet.
She rode hard and fast down the highway until
she hit the beach. She stared out at the ocean.
After a while she sat, tears leaked from the
corners of her eyes as she watched the ever
It’s not fair. I’m too young. I just found Joe. . .
she thought as she went from anger to despair
to fear. Her life has just started coming together.
She had a future planned out, with Joe and Ben
and Ruby at her side. This wasn’t suppose to
Finally her thoughts settled. She needed to get
her self together. She was about to take on the
battle of her life. And she was going to do it
She sobbed as she ackowledged her decision for
the first time. She wasn’t sure when she’d made
it. When she decided not to tell Joe about the
lump on that first day? When she lay in bed next
to Ruby the other night? It didn’t really matter.
The fact remained that there was no way she
could put Joe and his kids through the trauma of
surgery and chemo and God knows what else.
She waited until the tears dried on her cheeks,
going over and over what had to happen next in
her mind. Finally she scrubbed her face with her
hands and stood.
It was time to go do what she had to be done.
Joe stepped from his car. He frowned when he
saw the kids hadn’t drawn the curtains to keep
the afternoon sun out as he’d asked them before
leaving the house. Great, now the living room
would be like a sauna all night. (mostly found in
“Hey, Daddy,” Ruby said when he entered the
The kids were sprawled on the floor with Hannah
“Hannah and Ben and I have been playing card
and Hannah says that cheating is wrong but I
can’t win otherwise,” Ruby explained.
“She’s right. Cheating is wrong.” he said.
“Told you,” Ben said triumphantly. “You want to
win, you got to play smarter, that’s all.”
Joe reached for an envelope in his back pocked.
“I have something I wanted to discuss with you
guys,” he said, his gaze taking in all of them.Ben
and Ruby stared up at him, their faces
expectant. Hannah’s face was still down on her
“Is this about christmas?” Ruby asked.
“NO, this is about Easter. How do you guys feel
about a trip to MOvie world and Sea world on the
Gold Coast?” he asked.
“For real?” Ben asked, his face splitting into a big
“Yeah, for real. Got the four plane tickets right
here.” he glanced at Hannah to check her
reaction. There was a look on her face he
couldn’t quite define.
Ruby and Ben whooped with delight. He glance
at Hannah waiting for her to smile, but the smile
She glanced up at him, her expression blank.
“The trip sounds great.” But there was lack of
enthusiasm in her voice.
“You okay?” he asked.
She met his eyes briefly. “We need to talk.
when the kids are in bed.”
“Okay.” He stared at her for a long time, then
He sent the kids off to bed at eight thirty. He
tucked Ruby into bed and took Ben’s flashlight so
he couldn’t read under the covers. The he
returned to the living room.
He stopped inside the doorway and she looked
up at him. They stared at each other for a long
“What’s going on?”
“I can’t go to Gold Coast with you,” she said.
“I know I should have checked with you first
before purchasing the tickets.”
“It’s not about that.”
She took a deep breath and he realized she was
“Hannah.” he caught her hands and held it in
both of his. Her fingers were cold, her grip tight.
“I have b0s0m cancer. I’m scheduled to see a
surgeon on Monday.”
He stared at her, barely able to understand what
she was saying. “What….” “You’re too young,” he
“Jesus, Hannah,” . He didn’t know what else to
say, he dragged her into his arms. He could feel
the fear in her trembling through her body, and
he held her even more tighter.
“You’ll be okay,” he said.”You’re seeing the
surgeon on Monday, is that what you said? I’ve
got a meeting with the bank, but I’ll shift it so I
can come with you.”
Her eyes filled with tears, and she blinked rapidly
until they were gone. “That’s really sweet of
He frowned. “You don’t want me to come with
“It’s not about what I want. I don’t think it would
“What do you mean? If you’re worried I’ll hassle
the doctor to ask silly questions, I promise to sit
there quietly. Whatever you need from me.”
“You’re such a good man.” “I don’t think we
should see each other anymore,” she said.
She held up her hand. “Hear me out. I’m going
to get sick, JOe. Chemo, radiation therapy…I’m
probably going to lose my hair and I’m almost
certainly going to lose my b0s0m.”
“I don’t give a damn about any of that stuff.”
“I know. But I do, and I refuse to put you
“Isn’t that my decision to make?”
“And what about Ruby and Ben?” she asked. “Is
it their decision too? I might die, Joe. You really
want to put your kids through that?”
He flinched. “That’s not going to happen.” He
stared at her. He couldn’t believe they were even
having this conversation. Just this morning he’d
bought tickets for the four of them to holiday in
Queensland together; now Hannah was telling
him she might be dying.
“No.” he said again. Shaking his head.
She stood. He stared at her.
“Where are you going?”
“Like hell. We haven’t even begun to discuss
this,” he said standing up as well.
“I’m being smart. This is the best thing for your
kids, Joe.” she turned away.
He grabbed her arm. “I get a say in this, too.”
“For what it’s worth, it’s been amazing. A gift.
Thanks for sharing your family with me.”
Before he could say another word, Hannah was
gone, the front door clicking closed behind her.
He stared at the spot where she’d stood for a
long seconds, a thousand thoughts and feelings
churning inside him.
Hannah had cancer. And she’d just cut him
Hannah got home, but instead of parking her