The Mystery Cure
“Bye, Lilly!” Mia yelled as she started to walk home. She was walking backwards, her head still turned to the school bus.
Lilly looked back at Mia from the open bus window.
“Remember to go to my house at 6:00!” Lilly reminded Mia for the hundredth time that day.
Mia didn’t turn around until the bus left, and then she walked the path home. The sidewalk leading to Mia’s house was a little long, and in order to pass the time, Mia thought about how much fun Lilly and she would have at 6:00, when Lilly’s birthday party started.
Or would it start?
When Mia arrived home, she was so eager to get to Lilly’s house that Mia was on her way to her friend’s house at 5:35.
Mia started on the path to Lilly’s house. When she arrived, Mia knocked on the door, humming happily and waiting for Lilly’s face to pop behind the door and let her in.
But she never did. Not for three weeks.
The Mystery Cure
Chapter 1: The Illness
Mia plopped herself down on the seat of the school bus. No one sat next to her before the bus started moving. Normally, Lilly would sit next to her and they would talk to each other and have fun, but that didn’t happen today.
She sighed as she repeated that scene in class today in her mind when she noticed that Lilly was absent again. In fact, Lilly was absent the third week in a row. Of course, Lilly was sick, but no one stays sick for this long. What if Lilly was lying to get out of school? Mia wiped her face with the back of her hand to get rid of the misty feeling in her eyes; she was about to cry again. This happened every day for the past three weeks.
“No,” Mia thought. Lilly was the most honest person Mia knew, and if she actually was skipping school, she would’ve told her; they were best friends. However, this situation seemed suspicious to Mia and she knew something was going on. She missed Lilly so much!
After a while, the bus stopped. It arrived at Mia’s house. She walked home, her eyes flooding with tears.
She ran to her room; she had to do something. She paced around in circles in her room until she walked right in front of her desk. It had her phone on it. Mia immediately picked it up and punched in a few numbers; she was going to call Shannon. Aside from Mia, Shannon was Lilly’s best friend, and everyone in the class knew that. She knew that Shannon would know what was going on. Countless other times, Mia tried to call Lilly for answers, but no one ever picked up the phone.
Once the phone was picked up, Mia quickly said with a tone of urgency in her voice, “Do you know what’s going on with Lilly? She's been absent for 3 whole weeks!"
"Oh, um, I've been kinda busy," Shannon replied, unfocused. Mia sighed. Shannon always answered like this.
"What are you busy with?”
"Oh y'know, um... Stuff."
"I’m serious, just tell me! It'll only take a minute."
"Sorry, Mia. It's just with the divorce and all... Ok, the truth is... Well... I don't know."
Too speechless to continue, Mia just hung up the phone and did her homework, her mind still occupied with what could have happened to Lilly. Afterwards, Mia went downstairs. Maybe she could ask her parents. “No,” she thought. They wouldn't understand.
With no path to go to, Mia sadly sat down on the couch. She noticed the newspaper before her on the coffee table. Mia needed something to distract her from everything going on right now, so she picked up the newspaper boringly. The headline was:
SICK GIRL UNABLE TO ATTEND SCHOOL FOR 3 WEEKS!
She picked up the newspaper and was astonished; the sick girl must’ve been Lilly! She grasped the paper in her hands and stared with her eyes open wide in surprise at the text below it. "Lilly ####, a middle school student, has been diagnosed with an unknown type of illness which causes are unknown.”
"Ohmigosh!" Mia thought, scanning the newspaper for more information.
She read that the illness could be fatal as it is unable to be treated for now and that no scientists have found the cure.
Her eyes filled with tears; would she ever see Lilly again? Mia's mixed thoughts and thousands of questions sent her emotions out of control. "Could I," Mia thought, "discover the cure?"
Thinking about this, Mia put her hands on her temples to calm the turbulent thoughts in her mind.
She asked herself over and over, "Is it possible?"
Millions of doctors and scientists have tried to find the cure, but all have failed. Could she, a typical 13-year-old, find it?
When Mia went to bed, she couldn’t sleep. She kept walking around in circles in her bedroom, unsure about what to do. There was something missing in the information that she found in the newspaper. First of all, why was Lilly sick (normally she was energetic and healthy), and second, when did this all happen? Mia was determined to find out what was going on. Mia remembered the last time she saw Lilly; she was perfectly fine then, and maybe even more energetic than normal. What could have happened?
Downstairs, Mia’s parents suddenly got a phone call from the hospital. Lilly's parents were on the other end.
“The odds aren’t good... She has an... An... An unknown disease. Lilly, I mean,” Lilly’s mother managed to say through her sobs. “They don't know what to call it yet.”
“So I’ve heard,” Mia’s dad replied worriedly.
The next day, Mia asked her parents if they could visit Lilly at the hospital, but they said the doctors allowed no visitors at this time. They reasoned not only might the stimulation be too much for Lilly, but that the contagion would pose a threat to visitors.
Mia ran up to her room and flung herself on her bed.
Her mind filled with worries. “Is Lilly going to be alright? Is she going to die? Would I ever see Lilly again?” she thought. Only time could tell.
The next day was Saturday and Mia had piles of homework she had to get done; normally when she had this amount of homework on weekends, she’d invite Lilly over to her house and they’d do it together, but for the last 3 weeks she hadn’t been doing that, obviously.
Just a simple squaring problem sent a flood of tears down her face. All of this nostalgia kept her from being focused, so she had to constantly recite the problems out loud in order to simply keep her attention on her homework.
“What’s 20 squared?” she repeated to herself. “19 squared equals 361.”
When her mom called her down for dinner, all she could do is think of Lilly, alone in the hospital, afraid, worried and not knowing if she’d live through this unknown sickness. She probably took deep breaths every time she inhaled because she didn’t know if each breath she took would be her last.
Finally, Mia went downstairs to dinner.
The food was tasteless to her; it felt as if she was chewing dirt.
“May I be excused?” Mia asked her mom.
“What’s the matter, Mia?” her mom asked.
“I just... Don’t feel so good right now,” Mia grumbled, slowly edging away from the table.
“Ok, but don’t blame me if you’re hungry later,” her mom said, clearing Mia’s place.
Mia was glad she hadn’t had to lie to her mom; she really didn’t feel good.
At the hospital, Lilly stared back at her parents looking at her from beyond the room through a glass window. The doctors had said to them it was too dangerous to even be close to her without a mask, and even so, it was still too dangerous to enter the room as the nature of the disease was still unknown.
Lilly was confined to her bed by a multitude of straps and tubes. Beside her was a table with numerous gloves, masks and medical tools doctors use to perform surgery. A long tube from a wall connected to her left side. With intubation tubes in her throat making her unable to speak, all Lilly could do was stare back at her parents with the look of death in her eyes. No one told her that surgery would be done on her, but Lilly knew it anyways.
Lilly’s skin which once was soft and beautiful was now covered with blisters and a horrible red rash; it felt like she was being stung by a million wasps. Her throat and stomach were both feeling as if there was a fire inside them; they had an odd feeling as if she were being eaten from the inside out. It was misery.
Lilly wanted to pass the time; it felt so awful and if she stayed awake the whole time, it’d feel like forever, so Lilly fell asleep.
Finally came the time of surgery. In the waiting room, one of the doctors walked over to Lilly’s parents as they were sitting on chairs, sobbing and wondering what would happen to the daughter they loved so dearly.
“I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to do surgery on your daughter,” the surgeon said. “It’s the only way,” the surgeon began.
“No, It’s not your fault. Don’t be sorry,” Lilly’s mom managed to say through her tears. “Just do the best you can. Please, for Lilly.”
A new rush of tears flooded Lilly’s mom’s eyes. Lilly’s dad hugged her and said soothingly into her ear, ”It’s alright, everything’s going to be alright.”
The surgeon went back to the room where Lilly lay. The room was lined up with a multitude of doctors and surgeons all with gloves and masks on. Then the anesthesiologist injected Lilly with an anesthetic to make her sleep while they worked on her body to cure the unknown disease. For two and a half hours, the surgeons worked on Lilly’s body and what the surgeons found greatly perplexed them. Lilly had something in her but no one was exactly sure what it was.
While the surgeons were looking at Lilly’s body, a new surgeon rushed through the door.
“Doctor, we received new results from the blood sample!” he said.
“What did you find?”
“We found... Eggs. Some sort of parasite, perhaps? We looked at it and saw that it had a resemblance to the P-61 parasite.”
“Yes, that makes sense; we found larvae and adults in her body, here.”
“Do you think it could be some kind of mutation? The parasite, I mean.”
“If it is, then it’s a particularly strong mutation. It’s resisted all the medicine we have. I’m afraid... We don’t have a cure, either. It’s probably developed antibacterial resistance,” the surgeon next to Lilly said, hopelessly putting down the antibiotics he was holding. It was useless.
“Are you sure? All of the other hospitals didn’t have one -- plus millions of scientists and doctors working together.”
“Yes, I’m sure, sadly.”
Lilly was awake, but she didn’t want to open her eyes. She thought the pungent smell of chocolate and vanilla would disappear once she opened her eyes; she thought the smells were a dream. But when Lilly felt someone shaking her awake again, she opened her eyes.
The smell didn’t disappear.
Lilly noticed she wasn’t tied to her bed anymore; the surgery must’ve been complete. A surgeon was the one who shook her awake. When she sat up, the surgeon left the room. The whole room was illuminated by the light of the orange afternoon sun.
She looked around and in the corner of her eye, she saw balloons.
Lilly saw her parents looking at her through the same window from before. “What are those for?” Lilly said, hoping to be heard despite the glass window between her and her parents.
She heard the heavy sigh of her mother. “Well, we never got to celebrate your birthday since you got sick.”
Lilly’s father chimed in. “That, and... We just want to make sure we celebrate it before you... Before we can’t anymore.”
The happiness in Lilly’s eyes that came from hearing that her parents didn’t totally forget about her birthday faded away when she heard what her dad said. She realized what her dad was getting to. The surgery wasn’t a success.
Lilly let out a deep sigh of relief and said, “It’s nice to know that I can finally forget about hope and... Pain... And... Everything...” Lilly didn’t have to finish her thought. Everyone knew she was going to die anyway.
After that, Lilly was overcome by a feeling of drowsiness. Unable to resist it, she fell into a deep sleep.
It was a coma.
Mia’s father was talking on the phone while sitting on the couch of Mia’s house. Mia and her mother were arguing in the kitchen.
“I’m going to see Lilly!” Mia shouted at her mom.
“No Mia, you can’t! The illness is still too contagious!” Mia’s mom said, trying to sound calm but failing. They’d been arguing like this for around half an hour.
“Stop, you two!” Mia’s dad said, stepping in between them and hanging up the phone. “Mia, you can go,” he said.
Mia’s mom glared at her husband.
Mia was the first to react. “Thank you daddy, thank you!” she said, hugging him tightly.
“But,” her mom started to say, “why? Are you willing to risk your kid’s life for... A friend?!”
Mia’s dad glared back, but this time with a sense of calmness in his eye. He smiled and tilted his head slightly to comfort his wife.
“It’s safe now; Lilly’s parents called me to say that this ‘illness’ was not caused by a virus or bacteria and that it’s actually a parasite. It’s going to be safe as long as you don’t get too close to her,” Mia’s dad said reassuringly.
”Ok,” her mom said, giving in, ”if the doctors say so.”
She wanted to resist, but this sense of calmness wavered her choice.
Mia got into the car with a skip to her gait and her dad started driving to Rockville Public Hospital.
“I can’t wait!” Mia said excitedly.
“Um... Mia dear? She’s in a coma; she won’t be able to talk,” her dad stammered.
”Oh,” Mia said quietly.
Her happy and bright eyes were darkened as her mood fell.
The car was silent for the rest of the ride, everyone deep in thought. Mia had waited so long to see Lilly, and now she wouldn’t even be able to talk to her! Mia had learned about comas in school only 3 days ago, so she knew that comas could last as long as a year! She rested her happy attitude. Although she knew seeing Lilly in a coma would only excite her worries, Mia still decided to go.
Mia put her chin on the car window and looked out at the dreary landscape; it looked so pathetic. Wind and rain tore at the trees outside.
Suddenly she felt extremely hungry; she hadn’t had dinner last night and she had slept late because she was worrying about Lilly; she had had to rush out of the house and didn’t get the chance to have breakfast and for lunch she had only had a small peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
She asked her parents if they could stop at a restaurant and they agreed. They drove the short way to Buckberry square where the closest food place was located. Even though Mia was hungry, she barely tasted the food; she had used to go to this same restaurant with Lilly. She tried hard not to cry, but the harder she tried, the more sad it seemed.
Lilly was in a coma. That meant she only had so much time left before she fell asleep forever...
Hi! I like writing and chess and drawing.