It's happening again.
I push my eyes open and force myself to sit up, although I do so a little too quickly. I sit up straighter for a moment and close my eyes, even though the room is completely dark anyway. I hear scraping against the wall of the hallway, which just so happens to be on the opposite side of my bedroom door. Two, maybe three men's voices are now audible, although I can't understand them with their medical jargon—they are emergency medical technicians, back again for the second time this month.
I open my eyes and gingerly swing my legs over the side of my bed. I propel myself into a standing position and walk over to the light switch next to my door—my now stinging eyes squint almost to a close in response to the sudden light. I reach into my drawer and pull out a pair of comfy jeans, then I open another drawer and grab a loose-fitting t-shirt. I think to myself, "My shoes are by the door. I'll get them after the EMT's leave."
I wait, fully dressed, sitting on my bed. I know that my mom will come in at some point to alert me on what has happened. It's no use, because I already know.
He's on his way to the hospital again, that part I know; it could be because he stopped breathing, like last week. Or, it could be something totally different, I mean, I'm not a doctor. I don't know all the possible side effects of cancer.
I hear a soft tap on my door, unlike the harsh scraping from a few minutes ago. Scraping, which I know from experience, is the sound of a stretcher carrying my father away to the emergency room.
The door opens without my giving the OK, and it's not my mom, but my neighbor. She looks surprised that the light is already on and I am already dressed. She informs me that my dad was having trouble breathing, so my mom went with the EMTs to take him to the emergency room to make sure everything was "all right." She asks if I want her to stay the night and sleep on the living room couch. That couch is red. Red and very comfortable, shaping to your body once you lie on it for an hour or two. Before my dad got sick, I would leave my bedroom door open at night. Four nights out of seven, I could hear him out there snoring on that couch, completely oblivious to what was playing on the TV screen at that point. He would later go back to their bedroom after waking up from a loud blast from the TV, signaling that it was time for a commercial break. But as I drifted off to sleep in my bed, hearing him snore just a few rooms away was when I felt to most safe. Although lately, he's been limited to one room in the house, a makeshift "hospital room away from the hospital."
I don't know why I told my neighbor that she didn't have to stay—I'm 12 years old. I don't have a fear of the dark per se, but I sure as heck don't like it. As we all could have guessed, I couldn't go back to sleep after she left.
“Too late now,” I tell myself. Before my neighbor left, she told me that my mom would be back in a few hours to check in on me. A few hours could mean anything to an adult. Me? I think: two hours. That's a few. Just to be safe, I'll say that she'll be back in three. That's enough time to give her to sit with my dad in the cold and dingy and unnecessarily loud hospital waiting room. That's enough time to wait on the doctor, to have the doctor check him out, and then to come back with the right medicines to make him feel better.
I have my pajamas on again, and I can't decide which movie to fall asleep to. I turn on the lamp by the couch, decide on my second movie option, and put it in the DVD player. The living room is well-lit. I am by myself. The red couch is comfy, like always.
A little less than three hours to go.