Tommy was shaken out of sleep by the sound of the bell, or at least, what he thought was the bell. He waited for the sound again, and it came…and it was the bell.
He looked at the alarm clock beside the bed: 4 a.m.
He climbed out of bed and, rubbing his eyes, entered the hallway that led to the other rooms in the house.
All was dark as he made his way to his parent’s bedroom. He stepped in, just in time to hear the bell for a third ring.
He turned on the lamp that had been set on a table close to the door of the bedroom. The lamp had been placed there for convenience.
He whispered. “Mom?”
The still figure in the bed opened her eyes. She did her best to smile, but the fading use of her muscles caused her smile to somehow look…disfigured.
The smile broke Tommy’s heart.
“I’m sorry I woke you.”
Tommy leaned over and kissed his mother on the cheek. “It’s no problem, really.”
She smiled again. “I was wondering if you could give me some water.” Her voice was slurred, again, the result of fading muscle use.
Tommy reached over and turned on the lamp next to his mom. A pitcher of water was sitting on the nightstand table next to the bell, as was an empty glass. Tommy carefully poured a small bit of the water into the glass.
He set the glass down.
“You think you can sit up?”
Tommy’s mother nodded her head, for the muscles that were needed to do so were still very much functional. It was the muscles in her mouth that were quickly diminishing, as were the ones in her legs, and her arms, and her chest…
Doing her best to sit up on her own, Tommy helped her when needed. Once she was up, he placed his hand under her chin as he tipped the glass of water into her mouth.
She closed her eyes as she drank, and for a moment Tommy knew what quenched thirst looked like.
After she had finished what was barely a normal drink of water, Tommy set the glass back down on the small table.
“Is there anything else I can get you, anything else that you need?”
She shook her head.
“Maybe a trip to the bathroom?”
Again she shook her head.
“I’m okay,” she managed to say.
Tommy wondered if she was telling him the truth, or if she would remain uncomfortable until Tommy’s dad woke up and helped her in ‘that’ area. She sometimes seemed ashamed to ask for Tommy’s help.
“Alright, then. I guess I’ll go on back to bed.”
She smiled. “Thank you, Son.”
Tommy leaned over and kissed his mom again. “You’re welcome.”
He turned out the light by the bed and then did the same thing at the lamp by the bedroom door.
He looked into the room. “I love you, Mom.”
He heard the faint voice through the darkness. “I love you too, Tommy.”
Tommy went back to his room and crawled back into his bed. As he fell asleep, he dreamed of days past…
…Tommy woke up from his dream, his mind finally made up. He quickly turned on his computer. While he waited for it to load, he went out to the hallway and to his parent’s bedroom. He looked in on his father, who seemed to be sleeping. He stared at the empty space next to his dad.
Wiping the tears from his eyes, he made his way back to his own bedroom and sat down in front of the computer.
After another moment of reflection, and a few more tears, he concentrated on the business at hand.
He slowly began to type two words into the computer's Internet search engine.
The first word he typed was nursing, and the second word he typed, was school.
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