It was almost silent in the treatment room. The only sounds were the whirring and occasional mechanical grinding of the fluid pumps stationed by each of the recliners. Belinda’s pump was one of the grinding ones and she was quickly reaching the limit of how much she could handle.
The steroids were making her irritable and she knew it, so she didn’t grab the nurse and tear into her for giving her the loudest pump in the hospital. She wanted to, but she didn’t. Instead, she sat back in the recliner, closed her eyes, and tried to ignore it. It continued its mind-itching grind and Belinda looked up to see how much was left in the bag. The bright yellow fluid in the bag was still almost at the top and she sighed heavily, halfway hoping the nurse would hear her.
When nobody came to ask what was wrong, she fingered the call button on the side of the recliner. Calling the nurse would only prolong the administration. She would have to unhook the bag, bring out a new pump and IV pole, hook it all back up, and by that time the bag might have been a quarter gone or more. Instead of the call button, she pushed the longer button that would recline the chair slightly in the hopes she could take a nap. There was a whining from inside the recliner that only stopped when she took her finger off the button.
“Great,” Belinda said out loud, not caring that the other people in the room had turned to look at her. “Just effing great.” Leave it to her to get the one recliner that wouldn’t recline.
Belinda hated Thursdays. The rest of the week wasn’t a cakewalk – handfuls of pills three times a day, watching more and more of her hair swirl away down the drain – but Thursdays were chemo days which meant that not only did she have to deal with more of the same, she also had to try and keep herself from vomiting every fifteen minutes.
She was the youngest person in what the other patients called their “chemo clique,” and it made her sort of a curiosity to them. When she’d first started her infusions, they had a slew of questions for her, the sort of nosy and invasive ones that cancer patients felt they could ask of each other because they were all in it together. Belinda had closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep, and they’d stopped asking.
She hadn’t realized her eyes were closed until she opened them. There was a man in a suit standing in front of her and she sat forward. “Detective Massey. Is something wrong?”
“Bad news,” he said, getting right to the point. It was one of the reasons Belinda liked him. “They won’t move the trial.”
“What? They have to. I can’t miss my chemo.”
“The judge says we’ve already delayed long enough. If you can’t make it next Thursday, you’re out as a witness.”
“What about my statement?”
“He wants you on the stand. This is the most high-profile case he’s ever tried and he wants everything perfect for the cameras,” the detective shook his head. “I’m sorry.” He glanced down at his watch. “I have to get going. Without you we’re going to need Martin Griggs even more and I need check on him.”
“Fine,” Belinda said. “Whatever.” She sat back and watched the detective leave. He had been even more curt than usual and it lit a spark of rage in her. Did he think she wanted to be there? Trapped in a chair while a murderer that she’d seen clearly in the streetlights went free? The urge to rip the IV out of her arm and fling the pump across the room came over her but she forced herself to sit still. A second later the nausea hit her. Too distracted by her anger to concentrate on suppressing it, she fumbled for the plastic basin by the side of her chair and grabbed it just in time to vomit hard enough to make her back hurt.
“Are you all right, Miss Keys?” The nurse had hurried over when she saw Belinda flailing and the younger of the two women nodded as she wiped her mouth.
“Oh yeah,” Belinda said, thinking of the empty witness stand and the murderer dancing just out of her reach. “Just effing peachy.”