“It looks the cancer has spread further. It has started to progress to her optic nerves. We must take action now and remove it or there won’t be much time left for her. Chemo therapy is no more an option”, said the doctor to Faye’s mother who is currently seeing her world crash down on her. But it was Faye who sat beside her mother, emotionlessly. This was not something new to her. Being a 9 year old girl, she was nearly confined to the hospital. Tests after tests, therapy after therapy, her life was confined to the walls of the hospital and she already had lesser interest about her future. Her lack of emotions to life was more painful for mother to face than the ordeals of her demise. “We can setup an appointment for her in a week’s time. If we are successful, this would be the last time she would have to go through any of this”, said the doctor in a decisive tone. “And what if it fails?”, asked her mother in a reluctant tone. “Well, then I am afraid we will have to go back and start our research again to look for those odd solutions”. While looking at Faye her mom agreed to the ultimatum and decided to bet everything on the surgery in hopes that would give Faye her soul back which seems to have lost its shine over the past years. While heading back to their ward Faye had something she wanted to share. “Mom, it looks like I finally will be allowed to leave this hospital for good.” These words shattered whatever ounce of strength her mother had conjured just now. Tears rolled down her eyes and she did not have anything to say. She just got up and left the room while Faye laid in her bed hoping for the week to end soon.

Day 1:

Faye’s daily life revolved around where her would meet her mom in seeing her depressing mother and then sleeping the rest of the day. There was not much to do, the weather was great for one to go out and enjoy, but the warm rays from the sun could never penetrate her cold attitude. She got to meet her mom and then went ahead to fall asleep as usual. It was late evening when her sleep was disturbed by a new voice. “Hey why are you sleeping in the middle of the day? Wake up. Do you want to play? Get up you silly girl”, a boyish echoed though her room. “Get up you couch potato. God! For a girl you sure are lazy”, the comments started to make her mad and she decided to look at the person bothering her. She opened her eyes and found a boy wearing a bright red shirt, probably the same age as her grinning. “What do you want? Why are you in my room? Who are you to call me names?”, she yelled at the nuisance in front of her. “Whoa! So many questions. Who made you queen?”, said the boy smirking away after his reply. “Grrrr… Who are you? What are you doing in my room??”, Faye turned red in anger as she was beyond her limits. The boy replied, “Darwin is my name. I am new here, I’m in room 408 and was going through the floor. Doesn’t look like this place has a lot of kids around to play with. Do you want to play something with me?”. “Go away! I don’t want to play with anyone who calls me names and makes fun of me”, she replied. “Sorry, but I wanted to get your attention. You did not seem to be responding to my calls so I decided to push your buttons. But in any case, you really need to act like a kid. Only old people sleep at this hour.” Darwin’s responses only infuriated Faye as this was the first time someone talked to her this way and to top it off it was just a kid. Faye decided not to respond to the brat as she didn’t want to become a monkey in his game. “Hey, I said sorry. Why the long face? I only want to know you so I could play with you. I am not sure how long I would be here, but while I am here I thought I could use a friend. Will you be my friend?” Darwin’s approach had changed dramatically, but Faye was not ready to budge yet. “I see you are still mad. Guess, it is my fault. Sorry! I will leave now.”, said Darwin as he walked towards the door. “I will be back tomorrow once you have cooled down. Bye grumpy!”, Darwin dashed off across the hall laughing. Faye was caught by that last comment. “Wait, did he just call me with a name again? Is this kid going to bother me every day now? I cannot let this continue. Tomorrow I will show him who I’m.”, Faye was consumed by thoughts and eventually fell asleep thinking about what to do tomorrow to Darwin when he would visit her.

Day 2:

It was 9:00am in the morning, the boyish voice woke up Faye from her sleep again. “Yo! It is morning. Wake up you sleepy head.” With her half unconscious state of mind Faye opened one of her eyes and saw Darwin. It was too blurring of a vision but his annoying voice was enough to confirm it was him. “Wake up. Lets go and play.” Annoyed beyond her limit she got up on her bed and took the bottle of water from the desk besides her bed and emptied it on top of his head. “Good morning. You know you need to take a bath once you wake up”, she responded was with the most sarcastic tone possible. “You know. You are right. You should also take a bath”, Darwin started to wriggle like a dog splash the water all over the place and on Faye as well. “Now that we both have taken our bath, let’s go and play.” Stunned by his actions Faye had her jaw dropped and lost her words. “You know, it would be better if we dried ourselves first before playing. Let me go and grab us a towel”, Darwin left the room after uttering these words. Few moments later Faye’s mom stepped in and was surprised to see the wet floor and Faye. “What happened? Why are you wet?”, she questioned while wiping Faye with a dry towel. “Did you spill water when you tried to drink from it?”, concerned questions were being thrown at Faye which she was not interested to listen at this hour of the day. “I’m fine mom. Darwin was bothering me so I poured water on him. But he become a dog and splashed the water back at me.”, she replied with an annoyed tone of voice. “Darwin? Who is he? Anyways, that is not a nice thing to do. I am sure he was hurt by your actions.” Faye was under no impression to accept her mom’s comments, “I don’t think he gets hurt. He is a boy. Boys are like that. Hope he learnt his lesson for messing with me”, she replied. “Well in any case, play nice with him. I am sure he only wants to be your friend. Also, sweetie I need to visit few places this week to get your surgery ready. So please be strong for me. Mommy will always love you”, Faye’s mom kissed her forehead as she conveyed her message. “That is ok. I am used to this. You can go”, her emotionless words had hit her mom again and she left without anything else to add-on. Thirty minutes later Darwin had stepped in again with a different red shirt. “Sorry, I go held up by my mom for getting wet.”, Darwin replied as he scratched his head. “I guess you are not an outdoor person. May be you have some board games that we could play.” Before Faye could respond, Darwin scrambled though her desk and replied, “Cool! looks like you have tons of board games. Awesome!”. Faye has never met anyone like him before. It was as if someone left a wild monkey loose. At this stage she decided to tag along with the game to avoid further odd balls to be thrown at her by him. “Yeah, we can play some games”, she replied. One game after another, they spent the entire day playing board games. While she did enjoy her time, she was more pleased that she knew how to tame the wild monkey and was more content with that. “Wow! look at the time, it is getting late. Time for me to hit the bed. I really enjoyed today. Let’s do this again tomorrow”, Darwin stated as he started walking towards the door. “Same here….Wait! What!! You are coming again tomorrow?” exclaimed Faye. “Of course!” smirked Darwin as he left the room. Faye knew this won’t be stopping anytime soon. She decided to have her meal and hit the bed to fight another day.

Day 3:

Faye woke up a bit early today. Not knowing what to do she had decided to formulate a plan to scare Darwin when he would approach her today. After all she should show who’s the boss. Especially for such a wild monkey. She laid towards the opposite of the bed and decided to jump scare the moment Darwin as he walk nearby. She giggled for her ingenious plan to teach him a lesson and waited for her opportunity. She heard the door open and footsteps approaching her. Once the sound was close enough she sprung up off her bed. “BOO!!” But there was no one in the room. Before she could run her eyes through the room a pair of hands grabbed her from behind. “BOOOOO!” Darwin’s attempt to scare her was successful as Faye was startled to silence. “Gotch’ ya you scaredy cat”. Faye knew who it was and turned around while rolling her fist making Darwin flinch. “Who is the scaredy-cat now??”, Faye smirked with content while waiting for his response. “I will let you take this one. But I will get my revenge.”, replied Darwin. Both laughed it out for a bit and got on with their conversation. “I have something interesting planned for us today so meet me at 10am near the emergency stairway. I have something to do now but I wanted to make sure you know that we have plans today. I will be waiting for you. You better come.”, Darwin started to pace towards the door as he finished his sentence. Faye was curious about his plans and hence agreed to meet him. Her mom visited as usual and as usual her mom had that fake smile in from Faye that she wore to show she was strong. But for a change Faye was waiting for the clock to struck 10 to go and meet Darwin. Once it struck 10am, Faye sprinted towards the emergency stairway. She found him wearing a pink shirt and this made Faye burst out in laughter. “Are you a girl to wear pink?” she said. “Color doesn’t classify gender”, Darwin uttered this as he adjusted his invisible specs to act cool. “I believe you, Darwin”, Faye grinned as she gave her response. “So what did you plan for today?”. Darwin touches Faye shoulder and utters, “TAG! You are it! Catch me if you can you slowpoke” and dashes ahead. It was a game of tag between them and Faye knew the rules already. She ran behind Darwin and they ran all over the secluded section of the hospital to avoid nuisance to others. They switched roles many times and each time Darwin would do acts like a creature when he chased her. He took forms of T-Rex, a dog, a zombie, a monkey and many more. Faye laughed each time he was IT. Faye was worn out by the end of the day with all the activities they did today. It has been a while since she had this much fun and she was enjoying it. At the end of the day they decided to head back and rest their body. “You are quite active for a slowpoke you know. I hope you enjoyed today, because I did. Let us plan something for tomorrow as well”, said Darwin. “Definitely!” she replied. She was enthusiastic about what’s in store for tomorrow. They parted ways at Faye’s room and she headed for bed.

Day 4:

It was a beautiful day and Faye was up early to head out and play. She had her usual visitor, her mom. Her mom was surprised to see her daughter so active in the morning. “You seem so lively today. What is it?”, her mother asked. “Nothing much. I am just waiting for Darwin to come. We planned to play today as well”, she replied. “It is so nice to know you made a friend. I wish I could meet him. When does he usually come to visit you?” her mom asked. “He should be here in another 30 minutes”, she replied. “Hmm. I wish I could meet him. But I have to leave in sometime. ‘Our’ day is closing in and there is still a lot left to do from my end. I hope to meet him soon. Hopefully, he goes to a school nearby, may be you can join him there. Remember you said you like the uniform in St. Oak junior high. May be he goes there. Wouldn’t it be lovely.” her mom replied with a smile. “May be. Let’s see how the surgery goes first”, she said. While Faye may still seem to be cold with her response it did look to be different from before. Her mom left the room to go about her usual work shortly after their small talks. “May be I should visit him in his room instead. He said it was room 408 wasn’t it”, she thought. As she headed out she bumped into Darwin while bonking their heads together. “Ouch”, they both exclaimed. “I thought you were just a slowpoke, but it looks like your blind as a bat as well. You may be need glasses that are used in telescopes”, said Darwin as he burst out a huge laughter. “You know, that was quite a dull joke you”, she said while raising her eyebrow. Darwin gave a wicked grin and proceeded in walking with Faye to the secluded section of the hospital. “Today we will play hide and seek. Rules are straight forward, we will use only this portion of the hospital to play the game.” Since Faye had less experience with the game, she hide in some of the most obvious places and Darwin used to find her in ease and under 3 minutes . He teased her quite a lot for this and Faye finally decided to take this game seriously. She decided to hide in one of the storage rooms hoping to do better in this round. 10 minutes had passed by and she was content that she was doing better in this round. “Yeah! Who is awesome now!” she thought. Some more time passed by and there was still no sign of Darwin. “Why is he taking so long?” After few more minutes she decided to leave her spot and look for him. When she stepped out of the room she realized that she was all alone in this portion of the building. There was complete isolation and no one to reach to. She started to become anxious and decided to search for Darwin. Few more minutes passed by and she started to panic now. “Where is he? Is he lost? Is he hurt somewhere?” thoughts began to run through her head. She started to run towards the main building and eventually bumped into Darwin who’s off-white shirt was all dirty from dirt and dust. “Where were you? Why did you leave me alone because you got bored?” she started crying as she started pounding his chest. “I am sorry. I couldn’t find you anywhere”, he replied as he tried to calm her down. “Please don’t leave me all alone. It is scary to be alone”, she wailed. They decided to cut short their game time for today after what had happened. On their way back, they saw few kids play out on the hospital ground. Darwin asked Faye to go and speak with them however, she was hesitant to do so. “You need to learn to make friends. Sometimes the first step has to be taken by you”, he said. “But they would make fun of me or not like me”, she responded. “That is ok. It takes time to know someone. Wasn’t that how we met?” he replied to her silly responses. “I will wait and cheer you on from here. You go to that kid over there and just talk to him. It will be fine. You can do it.”, her gave his pep talk to boost her confidence. As Faye walked towards the kid she turned her head to see if Darwin was still within her sight. She reached the kid and started to talk. Few minutes later the kid parted ways and she came back towards Darwin with a huge smile. Her mission was successful. “Wasn’t that easy?” he asked. “I won’t say it was easy but, I think it is a start”, she replied. They both decided to spend the rest of the day on the hospital ground looking at the sky which grew darker. It looked it would rain hence they decided to head back to their room once the there was no more sun rays in sight.

Day 5:

With the rain pouring outside Faye woke up to a dull day. It looked like that she has to stick to playing indoors today but she had her hopes up in letting Darwin decide on the game for the day. She heard the doors open and found her mom to step in. But along with her she found her doctor to also step in. Her mom sat next to her and started to caress her cheeks while shedding tears. “How are you doing Faye”, the doctor asked. “I am ok I guess”, she replied casually. “That is good. I wanted to let you know that me and your parents have decided to schedule your surgery tomorrow. After tomorrow you will be all better and you will be a regular girl again going to school and having fun with your friends. She paused for a minute and stared at the doctor for a while. She just recalled the reason why she was here, why she had no friends, why her mom always looked so dull. She was sick and this was her ticket to get better. She was scared, but shocked to express it. Her mom had words of encouragement but a lot of things was running though her mind. Her mom and the doctor had step out to the doctor’s room for a while to discuss this further. It was during this time that Darwin entered the room. He wore a clean white shirt and found Faye her spot. He quickly learned about what was going and began to console Faye. She found this action to be repetitive and it had no value what so ever. “You are saying this cause things are going fine for you”, she replied in a harsh tone. Darwin quickly grabbed her hand and took her to the glassed balcony on the floor. “Look over there. That is the same ground where we played yesterday, the same ground where you meet the other kid. It is raining today but it doesn’t mean the ground is bad or gone forever. It is just one day and it will pass. Tomorrow will be a brighter day” he replied. She understand what he meant, it gave her courage something that she didn’t gain from her mom’s conversation. “I have my surgery as well tomorrow and my mom is on her way. I may not see her in time before the surgery. So I need to let her know that I am ok, I can’t reach her over phone so give me an idea to handle this you dummy.”, he said. “A letter maybe”, she replied. “Good thinking you silly. Now I want you to write the letter because my handwriting is not that good”, Darwin demanded. “I didn’t expect much either”, chuckled Faye. As Darwin quoted his words Faye began writing it down. She didn’t give much thought on what was said, but just went ahead and wrote the letter. “That should do it I guess.” he said. “You keep the letter with you cause it looks like your surgery is going to be shorter and since they are going to play with the wires on your head, when I come back for my letter you better remember to hand it over”, he ordered. She smiled to his quirky demands and agreed to it. “I have few tests today and I may not be there to play around but you can try and keep your mom occupied. I am sure she is not as strong as you. Let’s meet up after our surgery and have fun as usual”, he said and parted ways. Faye headed back to her room where her mom was anxiously waiting for her. “Where were you?” she asked. “Nothing much”, she replied. “Mom, it will be alright. Don’t worry”, her short response brought so much assurance that her mom was moved to tears. Faye placed Darwin’s note on the table next to her bed and spent the remaining day with her mom.

Day 6:

Nervous about the surgery, Faye woke up really early in the morning. It was still a cloudy day, however the rain had stopped. Her mom was with her the entire time. Faye was going through a lot and really wanted some comfort. The only thing she thought of was the promise she made with Darwin that she would return the letter to him after his and her surgery and they would get to play together again. She wanted things to go right so she could enjoy her life like she has been enjoying for the past few days. She was looking forward to a better future and she has this one big hurdle to jump over. The nurse came and made the arrangement to stroll her on the card to the O.R. She was hoping to see Darwin one last time before she headed to her O.R. however, when she passed by his room, it was already empty. “I guess, his surgery already started. I hope it goes well for him.” she thought to herself as she was being strolled. She reaches her O.R. and she could see the room occupied by many staffs wearing their face mask. Faye heart pounded faster as they prepped her on the table. She was nervous about her surgery, it has been such a long time since she had felt anything in her heart. She had been through a lot of treatment but this time it was different. She wanted for it to go right. She wanted to be alive. She wanted to enjoy life and be with friends who she can play with. Friend like Darwin who make her day bright with their crazy personality, who makes her feel alive. The surgeon took the gas masked and asked Faye to count to 10 backwards. She took her breathe to count down and as she reached closer to one, a drop of tear shed from her eye and she was out for the surgery to begin.

Day 7:

Faye finally woke up and regained completely consciousness. The sun’s rays were passing through the window and her mother who was seated under the rays was shedding tears of joy as the surgery was successful. “My sweetie, you are back. I am so happy you are still with me.” Faye was happy too, that this will be the last time she has to be stuck in a hospital. She can finally be normal. “How are you feeling Faye?”, the doctor asked. “Ok, I guess” she replied. “That is good to hear. You will have to stay for just few more days to help you get your energy but after that you are free to leave. Most of your charts are clean. Congratulations!”, he replied. Faye and her mom spent the entire day talking and making plans for everything they wanted to after she left the hospital. One thing however did bother Faye, Darwin was yet to visit her. She waited till late evening, however he was still a no show. During the evening checkup, she decide to ask the doctor about him. “Doctor, do you know how Darwin is doing?”, she asked. “I am sorry, who was it again?” “Darwin, he had a surgery yesterday. Is he doing ok?” “I am not sure who you are talking about, but we don’t have a patient called Darwin here. The only child who had a surgery yesterday was you.”, the doctor responded to the curious girl. “Are you sure, he should be in room 408?”, she asked. “That room has been empty for months, Faye”, replied the doctor. Faye’s mom nervously asked the doctor if something was wrong with her daughter. “I am not sure, the condition she had has had cases where people had both auditory/visual hallucinations. Darwin might have been someone from her imagination. In any cases this won’t be there anymore. So you don’t have to worry about that anymore. I will come and see you again tomorrow.” The doctor left the room after the check. Faye quickly recalled about the letter and reached for it. She began to read what was written.

It read, “There may never be a right time to say this but no matter what happens, even if I’m not there, you must carry on. Nothing can stop you from moving forward from where you are now. There is far too much to gain, than to lose. So smile, I will always be with you and we will meet again sometime, in a different way.”

Darwin was the last breathe of her faded personality, to give her hope for the future and look for the horizon against all her worries. Faye began to shed tears as she lost her first and true friend. Even though it was all in her head, he was the one closest to her and probably only the friend she ever needed.