That Elusive Cure 18
By lisa h
I woke up Wednesday morning to find Jimmy out of bed, showered and in his study answering emails. Moments after he realised I was awake, he came in. He looked anxious, nervous as he sat on the side of the bed and fiddled with a pen.
“Today’s the day.”
“Third session. It’s so quick,” I said. “You sure you want to come?”
He nodded. “Try and stop me.”
“I’m not sure what you’ll hear on the outside. The computer speaks quietly.”
“Do you really think it’s working?” Jimmy leaned forward. “Don’t you think we should prepare in case this is all a hoax?”
“You do what you want. I’ll deal with the reality after the next scan.”
Jimmy looked like he was going to say more, then stopped and stood. “I’ll get you some tea,” he said as he left the room.
I got ready slowly. Part of me never wanted to go back to that church. My insides felt all mixed up. I wanted to be cured, who wouldn’t? But the truth was I was setting myself up for a big dose of the painful truth and didn’t seem to be able to stop myself from travelling the path. It sucked.
I moved around the house like a ghost until finally I stood by the front door, that big old key in one hand and Jimmy at my side. I placed my other hand lightly on his arm. I didn’t say anything, just stared up at him. I didn’t need to say anything. We were both fighting the same emotions.
“Come on, let’s go.” Jimmy moved past me and out to the car. I wondered how we’d cope, after the scan and the inevitable let down. And yet I climbed in next to him and off we drove.
There it was, the machine as shiny and at odds with the dusty church as ever. Jimmy ran his fingers over the metal hull while I struggled with the lock. No way was I making that mistake twice. I rattled the handle to make sure we were indeed locked in before making my way over to Jimmy.
“Have a feel of the mattress. It’s really odd.”
Jimmy touched the material tentatively, pulling back suddenly at the foam tried to grab on. “What the hell…?”
I laughed. “Weird, huh?”
“Is it getting harder to believe this thing is fake?” I asked as I sat on a pew and took off my shoes.
“Yes…” He prodded the mattress, a faint smile on his lips as the foam reacted.
I climbed in and lay down. “Now don’t be going anywhere, you hear?”
He let out a short laugh, watching me closely, watching the machine, watching the foam mattress as it snugged up around my body, his eyes trying to be everywhere at once.
“See you on the other side,” I said as I reached up and placed my palm on the panel. The lid began to move, slowly and smoothly closing me in, Jimmy’s eyes on mine until the lid clicked closed.
I shifted a little, getting comfortable, the foam adjusting along with me.
The machine started speaking, “Scan initiating.”
Apparently my heart and blood pressure weren’t raised this time. I had to admit I didn’t feel as anxious or scared in the pod today. Last time I was in the MRI at Clatterbridge Hospital the nurses had to tell me not to be so relaxed as I was breathing too slowly. Maybe I was getting the same way with this machine. The lid would lift up and Jimmy would find me fast asleep.
A moment of truth, if the machine was to be believed.
“Seven tumours found in the liver ranging from 3mm to 10mm. One tumour found in the left lung measuring 3mm, right lung now clear.”
I couldn’t help but let the excitement grow in me. Right lung clear. Did she really say my right lung was clear? I almost shouted out to Jimmy to find out if he heard the machine speaking, but then she started again.
“Session three of the five recommended. Two remaining to fix cancer sites. One to reverse the stoma.”
I still couldn’t figure out how a machine could operate. I guess that issue being fixed would really show Jimmy and me if these sessions were real or a painfully disappointing waste of time.
“Begin session?” the machine asked.
“Yes,” I said and waited for the machine to get going.
As the vibrations moved along my body, I wondered what Jimmy could hear. Did he have a hand on the hull, did he feel the machine working, doing whatever it was that it did? My torso went quite warm as the vibrations concentrated on that area. Maybe it used some sort of futuristic nano technology, or magnets, or some other method I’d never heard of and hadn’t even been invented yet. I really did lean towards the theory that the pod was from the future.
The machine had stopped. “Session complete. Next session in three days’ time.”
The lid opened and Jimmy was waiting right there, and he looked far too excited.
“I heard it, I heard what she said!” He held out a hand and helped me out of the machine. Before I even had a chance to get my balance he had wrapped me up in a bear hug.
“Every word. There’s a speaker on the outside. Everything you heard, I heard.”
I smiled shyly. “Do you think I should believe then? Get my hopes up?”
“Makes me want to pay for a private CT scan and see what they make of your insides.” He kissed me hard on the lips. “Your right lung is clear? That’s amazing.”
“Don’t count your chickens. Remember you were telling me to calm down about this not so long ago.”
My phone beeped and I peeled myself out of Jimmy’s arms. I sat on the pew and read the message – Janie.
Is today your next session? I hope you’re feeling some relief from the pain by now and are starting to believe. It’s a miracle, isn’t it?
“It’s Janie again. I should have replied to her the other day.” At that moment I realised I couldn’t remember the last time I felt an ache in my liver. One day? Or maybe it was two. Could a placebo take away my pain? I seriously doubted that when some days the morphine the docs prescribed for me didn’t touch the pain.
Jimmy wasn’t listening. He was circling the machine, examining it.
Yes, I just finished my third session. My pains seemed to have gone.
Not sure of what else to say, I sent the message. A reply came quickly.
I’m so pleased for you. Next session on Saturday?
A small part of me wanted to lie, to hide my schedule for her. Despite her sharing this machine with me, she really was still a stranger. But lying was something I never mastered.
“I found it.” Jimmy was on the far side of the pod, out of sight. I put my phone down and walked over to him.
“The engine compartment.”
He’d managed to find an opening where I hadn’t seen one and then opened it. A two metre by half a metre panel had slid down into the bottom of the pod. What was visible looked like the engine of a new car. The machinery was packed in tight, with hardly enough room to squeeze a hand or tool.
“Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” Jimmy reached out to touch the parts.
“No, don’t do a thing!” I knocked his arm out of the way. “What if you do something and you break it?”
“I’m not a complete idiot, you know.” His sulking face was on now, and for a moment I thought he was going to ignore me and have a fiddle inside anyway. Then he pulled gently on the panel and it slid back into place. The seal was near perfect.
“Beautiful, isn’t it.” Jimmy stoked the hull.
“Come on, time to go.” I was afraid Jimmy couldn’t resist having a tinker. He loved figuring out how things worked and now that he knew a way in to the engine, I wanted to keep him away.
I slipped my shoes back on and grabbed my bag. “Let’s go.” I took his hand and pulled him away. His eyes followed too closely when I hid the key in my bag. Before he’d even started the car I knew I’d have to find a new hiding place.
“With a bit of time, I’m sure I could figure out how that thing works.” He muttered the words, as if half to me, and half to himself.
A chill came over me. Yes, I definitely had to hide the church key.