You’re So Beautiful When You Sing

Noah took Sophia’s hand in his. It was frail, like holding a bunch of feathers. He wanted to give her a double squeeze but knew he shouldn’t. He let go and reached to adjust her blue head wrap.

“Don’t. Just take it off. Please,” said Sophia.

“Are you sure? It matches your gown,” said Noah as he took it off.

“Ha. Ha. Ha. It’s ugly.”

Noah retook her hand.

“It can’t be ugly,” said Noah. “You’re wearing it.

Sophia double squeezed his hand. She hadn’t “double squeezed” since they came back to the hospital. It gave him a lump in his throat. He held back tears.

Noah double squeezed her back, ever so lightly.

 

“When I go—“

“Please, babe.”

Sophia took a breath. It was a chore, but she took another.

“When I go, I want you to—“

“Babe. Please. I don’t want to—“

Carla, the Nurse, came into the room with a tray of food. Noah stood up. He pulled the table up to the side of the bed, and the nurse set it down.

“I’m not hungry,” said Sophia.

“Babe, you need to eat.”

“I don’t want to eat. You eat.”

The nurse made eyes with Noah, sorry eyes from the deepest parts of her soul. Noah looked away. He didn’t want to cry.

“Thank you, Carla.”

She nodded and left the room.

“Why aren’t you hungry, babe?”

“Because I have cancer. Babe.” snapped Sophia.

“Hey, c’mon. Why are you being nasty,” he asked softly?

“I’m not.”

Noah sat back down. It was his fifth night in a row in that seat, and it was worn. He’d be in that seat until she could leave. He wanted to take her home. Sophia wanted to go home too. But her Mom and Dad insisted on one more round of chemo. Of course, the doctor didn’t disagree. Every time that scanner beeped, the hospital made more money. The business of cancer sickened Noah more than the actual disease.  Every time that scanner beeped, Sophia shuttered at the thought of leaving Noah strapped with medical bills. It was bad enough that she was going to leave him with the mortgage, and all the rest of the wreckage that came with death. Noah knew she was not at peace, and that crumbled his heart into dust. As much as he tried, he couldn’t change anything. Not her stress. Or her death. All he could do was hold her hand.

 

The last thing Noah was thinking about was the mortgage.

“Are you sure you don’t want to eat, babe? Your Mom and Dad are going to be here any minute.”

Sophia adjusted further away from him. She hadn’t looked at him much in the last five days because she couldn’t bare him seeing her. Not this sick, at least. She didn’t want him to remember this. She wanted him to remember her for standing on his feet and dancing in the kitchen, and playing tag at Nordstrom while shopping for winter boots. But Noah loved all of her. Even this part. As much as at it broke his heart. “Til death do us part.” He’d love her last breath more than the breath right before.

“Can I have my head wrap back? I’m cold.”

Noah stood up and leaned over Sophia. He lifted her head and laid the wrap on the pillow. In his hand, her neck felt like an infant’s, and yet her head was as heavy as concrete. He placed it back down with ginger care and began tying her wrap in a knot on her forehead. It was crooked. The tails of the knot hung.

“I’m gonna give ya the Tupac. You’ll be the toughest chick in this place.”

“I’m more of a Biggie Girl,” she said.

The lump in his throat doubled. He couldn’t fight the tears.

“You can take the girl outta New York, but…”

“That’s right.”

She smiled a little smile. It was her first in weeks. He reached for her hand, and she gave it.

“Biggie Biggie Biggie, can’t you see,” sang Sophia.

“Awe shit,” exclaimed Noah!

“… Sometimes your words just hypnotize me. And I just love your flashy ways. Guess that’s why they broke…”

“You’re so beautiful when you sing,” said Noah. He double squeezed her hand.

She double squeezed back.

 

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