When I awoke in the morning, it was eight o’clock according to the black clock molded into the wall above the flatscreen television on my left. Great, I only had half an hour before it was time to leave for chemotherapy.
Suddenly, the door behind me flung open, and the clutter of muffled conversation through the hallway filled the apartment. The only voice I recognized was my sister’s, and it was coming from the doorway. “Donuts,” she sang.
My sister knew me well. It warmed my heart to know Dymphna remembered my sweet tooth for donuts.
So, without a second thought, I flung around to face my sister with a wide grin. She stood in the doorway. Her bright red curls were tied back at the nape of her neck in a ponytail. Her eyes were lined with a slender coat of black liner. And in her arms was a box of donuts.
Then, after crossing my arms over my chest, I asked, “Did you remember to get me the ones filled with jelly?”
“And covered with powdered sugar instead of being glazed,” Dymphna added with a grin. “But change out of those old clothes first.” She then mouthed that I could use her wardrobe.
Swiftly, I turned to face the back of the apartment and made my way to the back of the room. When I opened the fold-back doors of Dymphna’s closet, a colorful paradise of garments unraveled before my eyes. It was more organized than my closet and color-coded.
The wire hangers screeched against the metal rod as I rummaged through the closet before settling on a chiffon blouse and a pair of jeans. I changed out of my sweater and long skirt, tossing them onto the bed behind me, and returned to the sofa.
Dymphna sat next to me on the sofa as we spent the remainder of the half-hour feasting on the donuts. When the half-hour ran out, my sister led me to the parking garage where her car was parked on the ground level. She owned a black sedan.
Once our seatbelts pressed against our torsos, Dymphna pulled out of the parking garage, and we were off to the hospital.
Chemotherapy took place on the second floor of the hospital. It smelled clean and a tint like bleach—antiseptic, obviously. When Dymphna and I exited the elevator shaft, a nurse—a male in blue scrubs—waited behind a marble counter stationed like a check-in desk. He had slick, mousy brown hair. The laminated card worn on a lanyard hanging around his neck read his name: Eliam.
“Is one of you Aisling Jones?” Eliam asked. His eyes flitted between my sister and me.
“That would be me,” I piped, shooting my arm into the air like a schoolgirl eager to answer the teacher’s question.
Eliam stepped out from behind the counter and made his way over to me. It was then that I noticed the clipboard tucked under his arm. He cleared his throat and said, “I’m Eliam Cohen. I will be your nurse through your time in chemotherapy.” His eyes glanced to the side at Dymphna, and then back at me. “Who is she?”
“I’m Aisling’s twin sister,” Dymphna replied with a hint of irritation ringing in her voice. People never seemed to immediately identify us as fraternal twins, or even relatives even though Dymphna and I shared the same height—five feet five inches. It was always our difference in hair color that threw everyone off. “Name’s Dymphna Jones.”
“Well—” Eliam cleared his throat again “—follow me, Jones twins.” He ushered us past the marble counter through a narrow hallway which led into a glass lobby.
A row of recliners lined the glass wall. Each recliner was sectioned off for privacy by dividers. Hushed chatter filled the lobby as nurses talked their patients through the process, though more than half of them must’ve been asleep. In the middle of the row, I spotted an empty recliner before grabbing Dymphna’s hand and squeezing it as tight as possible.
Eliam then led us to the recliner I spotted in the middle of the row. I climbed into the recliner the leather material cushioning my back. I glanced over the seat to find my sister sitting on the ledge, and then my eyes shot forward to face Eliam who opened his mouth as if to say something when a familiar woman tapped him on the shoulder.
Her locks were tied back in a ponytail. Like Eliam, she wore blue scrubs, the hue as soft as her mousy brown hair. She whispered something into Eliam’s ear, and the two disappeared into the narrow hallway.
My heart began racing, and I gasped for breath. No. Not possible. “She’s the girl from the synagogue,” I whispered over the seat to my sister. When Dymphna’s lips curled into a smile, my jaw clenched. “Oh, don’t say it.”
“I told you so. You shouldn’t have messed with forces beyond your understanding.” And she said it.
I rolled my eyes. I didn’t need to be reminded of my mistake. I was about to shoot back with a witty retort when Eliam returned. There was panic in his eyes. “Okay,” he said slowly, “let’s get started.”
Eliam inserted a tube into the back of my hand. The rush of the chemotherapy medicine flowed through my veins, and my eyelids grew heavier and heavier until I couldn’t take it anymore and allowed myself to be consumed by sleep.