"Sick Kids in Love" by Hannah Moskowitz, List 4

September 27, 2022
After meeting Sasha in the hospital drip room, sixteen-year-old Isabel considers breaking her no-dating rule and giving love a chance.

This list covers "Who Do You Trust?"–Chapter 25.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: List 1, List 2, List 3, List 4
...what I do know is that Kevin Eastman seems to be a soothsayer, so I guess now I have to go back and read every issue of Heavy Metal, so I suppose I trust him.
I say, “I know, finally a New York attraction I’ve been to that he hasn’t. I’m reveling. He said I should invite you guys.”
“We’re always going to come back to this fight that doctors think I’m sicker than you are?”
“You say that like they’re wrong,” I say.
“No, I say it like it’s irrelevant. It’s not a competition.”
Because I can’t get some mobility aid and then be afraid to use it at a doctor’s appointment because they’re gonna scoff at me and tell me I don’t need it.
I think it’s categorically better if people can look at you and know that you’re sick.
“Life is harder for people who aren’t conventionally attractive,” I say.
And it’s not lost to me in all of this that he would be perfectly fine dating a girl using a cane or a crutch or a wheelchair. And I realize that shouldn’t be something noteworthy, that any decent guy should be fine with that, especially one with a chronic illness, but...the world is not exactly teeming with decent guys, and here is one right here who has beautiful eyes and good-smelling clothes and the most precious heart, and he loves me.
You stick to your word, you show you’re responsible, you take care of your obligations, and you do what you’re supposed to do.
Just because I don’t know these people—it’s not really the expensive-private-school demographic—doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
You’re the one who’s trying to argue me into missing work, like you’re going to find some kind of loophole and all of a sudden I’ll agree with you that, you’re right, I don’t actually have to keep up my commitments, I’m so stupid, if only I’d had a boy here this whole time to show me how I was actually...what, hurting the medical process by being around to pick up slack?
I mean, it’s Sasha, so he always manages to look irritatingly handsome no matter how sick he is, in that sort of dying-from- consumption way, but he’s paler than usual and kind of shaky, and honestly my first thought when I see him here is maybe that he’s here because it’s a hospital and not because it’s me.
He’s all hyped up like he’s never left the apartment before, bouncing a little as he walks, shooting me these completely disarming smiles that make me want to kiss him and never stop.
It’s just cold enough out here for his cheeks to flush a little pink.
Up above those ads, the Broadway billboards peek over like the flashy signs’ more serious parents.
He reaches into the wrong pocket for his wallet first and gets embarrassed and flustered and adorable.
They make Sasha and me look like prudes.
Was I born 100 percent, you-are-definitely-gonna-be gay, was I born neutral—which I guess to them means straight, uh, okay—and then I had gayness thrust upon me by, I don’t know, I guess the argument is my parents or the media, or was it somewhere in the middle and I had, like, a predilection toward gayness that had to be nudged, but not all that hard, by something outside of me?
So I’m just supposed to believe that people fall in love and stay in love and don’t hurt each other? That’s some trajectory that supposedly happens?
I read it over a few times, then recite it in front of my mirror, then crumple it up and throw it away because I’m doing this wrong and it’s supposed to be spontaneous.
I remember how I felt when he called me on Thanksgiving and how it felt when he kissed me for the first time, the kind of inescapable inertia of it all.
You look like that and it’s supposed to inspire me to show you my grotesqueness?
Maura lives in Forest Hills, the same neighborhood as my dad’s hospital, in a very cramped and impeccably decorated apartment.
They’re going to sedate him soon, before they bring him in for surgery.
His eyes are swollen, and his hair’s tamped down with sweat.
Even though I try to channel Sasha instead of being my appeasing self, she gives me the answer I was expecting—no more morphine, and they’ll get to him soon.
Some people with Gaucher actually do better without their spleens because cells build up there so quickly, but it’s still not like the appendix or anything that literally does nothing.
I turn off the lights in the living room and the kitchen and crawl into my makeshift bed.
“He’s awake, sort of. Dad said he had a rough night, kept waking up really confused and in a lot of pain, but that’s kind of standard for him...He’s always really groggy for a long time. He’s mostly just sleeping, Dad said.”
Miserable is just a baseline. Happy, there are always steps.
“Get off of me!” Sasha yells.
Dmitri looks at the nurse. “I really think we need those restraints.”
The rest of the day is just that, basically, fits of confusion broken up by bouts of sleeping.
“You shouldn’t threaten me right now,” he says. “I’m very frail.”
But you’ve got to be with someone who understands you. That’s really all it comes down to. All the complicated rules and compatibility tests...
He makes it from his bed to the armchair, where he promptly falls asleep for three hours, the balloon I got him bopping gently against the ceiling above his head.
“Can you do it?”
“Yeah, let me mortgage everything I’ve ever owned.”

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