Breathe Me by C.R. Jane

Prologue





Now

________________________________________

Valentina





“Yes. I understand. I’ll be there tomorrow at ten. I’ll see you then, doctor. Thank you. Goodbye,” I reply softly, hoping Dr. Channing doesn’t hear the quiver in my voice as I bid him farewell.

I hang up the phone and place it face down on the vanity, my hands shaking so profusely, I almost drop the damn thing on the floor. My whole body can’t stop trembling. I hug my stomach and bend over in my chair, just to keep myself from falling off it, slowly breathing in and out, hoping it will settle my erratic heartbeat.

Unfortunately, even if I could steady the irregular pounding in my chest, my stomach has different ideas. The bile of despair and anguish clogs up my throat, leaving me with only seconds to run to the bathroom before throwing up. My knees slam onto the tile, no doubt leaving a bruise, as I purge all these tormenting feelings out of my system. It’s a feat of epic proportions how much vile stuff I’m able to hurl out into the porcelain bowl, since my appetite hasn’t been what it used to be. Chemo does that to a person. The treatment is meant to save a life, however, it also robs you of every quality it offers.

And in my case apparently, it was a useless endeavor, too.

Dr. Channing's voice said it all. He might not have wanted to come right out and say I was a lost cause over the phone, preferring to see me face to face to deliver the bad news tomorrow morning, but just by his tone alone, I know there is no room for hope anymore.

This is it.

My end.

The day I have dreaded for the past twelve months has finally arrived. After a year of being prodded, poked and analyzed, I have to face the fact that it was all for nothing. My fate has been handed out, and now it’s up to me to choose how I will deal with it. Will I crawl up into the fetal position and cry defeat, or will I make the remaining days I still have left count for something?

After I’ve vomited up all that I’m capable of, I get up from the floor and go over to the sink to rinse my mouth off. I spit out the excess mouthwash and then rinse with water, repeating the process three times before calling it quits. It’s no use. I can still taste all my sorrows and regrets on the tip of my tongue. I hold on to the sink’s edges, and to my utter misfortune, catch a glimpse of my pale distraught reflection on the bathroom mirror.

Where is the girl who used to fight for what she wanted?

Where is she?

Because right now, I need her terribly.

Unable to keep looking at the mirror’s image for another minute, and in desperate need to replace this foul taste in my mouth, I rush out of the bathroom and head into the kitchen. Before I even know what I’m doing, my hand is already pulling the refrigerator door open, retrieving the sealed vodka bottle inside—the very one I had bought so long ago to celebrate when I’d receive a clean bill of health. Alcohol was just one of the many things I couldn’t indulge in, but that was when I still had a dog in this fight. Since I basically just received my death sentence, drinking a few shots is the least of my worries. If I’m going to puke my guts out all night, might as well blame part of it on Absolut.

I grab a shot glass and fill it to the rim, downing it in one go. The bitter liquid burns my insides, but it doesn’t dissuade me from having another. My whole chest feels as if it’s on fire, but it’s a feeling I would rather have ten times over then the sadness looming over my head, seeping its way into my bones.

“You know what you need, Val? Rocky road ice-cream,” I say out loud with a halfhearted giggle, trying hard to avoid the fact that I’ve succumbed to talking to myself in my empty apartment. The vacant rooms are just another painful reminder of how I’ll have to face this all on my own. “Yep, that’s what you need,” I mutter under my breath after drinking another shot, pushing that harrowing thought away from my head.

One pity party at a time, Valentina.

I’m about to reach for the fridge door to grab the pint of chocolate goodness when a certain image stops me in my tracks. My hand goes to the picture hanging on my fridge door, held in place by an Eiffel Tower magnet I bought off Amazon. Without regard to my poor broken heart, I trace over the three faces that once upon a time were as familiar to me as my very own. I put the bottle back on the countertop, so both my hands are free to clutch onto the memory of days where my future was still something I looked forward to. One I still joyously day dreamed about and planned for with them at my side.