Imagine a Newark hospital at nine in the morning. It is a small, bland room, in New Brunswick Children’s Hospital. Ivy dangling aside the bed, attached to my cancerous body. TV left on from the night before. In the corner, last night’s dinner which I failed to indulge. I struggled to remember who and where I was.
“Morning son,” my father swayed my shoulders, disrupting my sleep. “Son, you have get up.”
I could sense that he knew I was already awake, yet I proceeded to ignore it. After 6 months of already being in the hospital, waking up earlier than ten in the morning equaled either my blood needed to be taken or an unidentifiable substance was going to be injected into my veins. This would require a least six workers to make sure I didn’t resist or run out the room.
“Keanu, come on!” I reached my father’s limit of patience. As I struggled to free myself from the rheum which glued my eyelids shut, I rolled over facing my father and the door. Accompanied by my father were six ladies dressed in blue, matching scrubs, anxiously anticipating my reaction to their presence. My eight-year-old body was defeated by the tiredness and weakening of my bones.
“He’s awake.” I heard one lady in blue whisper out the door projecting her voice across the hallway. After my rise was publicly announced, a tawny man dressed in formal business attire disguised by a long white lab coat strolls in with a pitcher of a yellow substance on a overbed table. Suddenly, the tiredness was overthrown and the weakening of my bones tensed up in preparation for a fight or flight reaction. I sprung up and tightly guarded myself behind my father.
“It’s just apple juice son.” father assured me.
“They’re going to inject me with apple juice?” I inferred. The ladies dressed in blue battled against laughter while the tawny man replicated the George Bush grin. I was appalled at the fact that my concern was not taken seriously.
“Now, Now, Keynew?” the tawny man butchered my name, “is that how you say it?”
“It’s Ke-an-u.” Father corrected.
“Keanu. All you have to do is drink it,” I confirmed tawny man’s statement with the others within the room using the pyramid of evidence – my father being the highest ranking of credibility. “All of it.” he added.
Apple juice was my favorite fruit juice. Orange juice often appeared too tart, grape juice too artificial, and pineapple juice too sweet. Apple juice, however, combined all of other fruit juice abundance in harmony. Each gulp is like biting into an apple without the pain or worry of losing a tooth. Requiring me to drink apple juice as if it would help cure my sickness, leukemia, was iffy.
“Something must be in the juice” I thought. The lack of distortion in color did not support that belief.
I adjusted myself comfortably on the bed, in preparation to examine the apple juice. Father left my side as one of the ladies in blue inserted the table over the bed. Accompanied by the apple juice pitcher was a 32 ounce clear plastic cup as well as large flexible straws. The pitcher contained exactly one gallon of apple juice. Before I make my first move, the lady in blue began to precisely pour the substance into the cup. There was roughly a centimeter between the juice and the rim of the cup. The inserted straw adjusted the distance to less than half a centimeter. I began to salivate by the sweet smell resembling a candy shop filled with one flavor. Leaving the cup on the table, I leaned towards the cup and inserted the bent straw in my mouth. The watery consistency easily allowed me to chug the first 32 ounces in the matter of seconds. I reexamined the room and was presented with smiles of surprise from every member.
“One down, three to go.” the lady in blue motivated me to proceed as she robotically refilled the cup to the exact spot as before.
Uncertain of whether I was full, I began to indulge with no hesitation. Using all of my ATP, my pace began to slow down eventually forcing myself stop halfway. The sweet taste turn sour and the adored smell transformed into the smell of urine.
“I can’t finish it.” I plead as I created distance between the juice and myself.
“No worries,” the lady assured me, “You have all the time in the world.”
“Do you all have to stay in here?”
“Well someone’s gonna make sure you finish it.”
“True, but not all of you.”
Gradually, everyone except the lady, tawny man, and my father trinkled out of the room. Feeling less anxious, I leaned in to finish the second half of the cup.
“Good job. You’re halfway there.”
“Can I just finish it tomorrow?”
“I thought I had all the time in the world.”
The lady traveled across her mind, shuffling for the right response to find found nothing.
“Keanu,” My father raised his voice, “finish the juice now!”
The third pour was less consistent compared to the first two pours, barely leaving any space between the juice and the rim. I mind dragged my body towards the substance while my stomach tumbled for an escape. As I struggled to vacuum up the liquid I can feel every drop travel through my organs. My eyes began to water from the pain, yet I proceeded to let liquid back in. The cup was finally empty, yet I had 32 ounces left. I became unresponsive and numb to the pain. My body refused stay leaned up, drifting itself on its side in resting position. The lady brought the final filled cup towards me and injected the straw into my lips. Effortless the liquid crawled its way into my stomach. I watch the liquid slowly vanish before tiredness, overpowered my body. Cutting the show short, I passed out.
Imagine a surgical room at eight in the night. It is a small, white room, with blue curtains surrounding the room. The Ivy dangling aside the bed, attached to my cancerous body. Patients sobbing on the other side of the curtains. In the corner, a men dressed fairly casual, who resembled an older version of me.
“Hey, do you remember who I am?” the man inquired.
I traveled across my mind, shuffling for a single memory and found nothing except a vague memory of an disgusting sour substance similar to urine.
The man’s eyes began to water, carelessly releasing all tears. “I’m your father, son. I’m your father.”