In the Air (The City Book 1) - By Crystal Serowka

To my dad. I know you’re looking down on me and celebrating. I hope I’ve made you proud.

“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do

to hear your voice again.”

I'd been here before. Too many times to count. I knew every crack in the linoleum floor, the water stain in the center of the ceiling in room 515. It was unfortunate that I knew these things. I shouldn't know where everything was in this place, but lately it seemed like it was my home away from home. I looked down at my new boots that I got for my birthday. They left scuff marks on the tile, and the nurses gave me dirty looks when I paced the waiting rooms. I sat, alone, mostly twiddling my thumbs, waiting, waiting for what seemed like forever. The waiting I had been doing for the past few years had taken a toll on me, but more so, it had taken a toll on my father. He was the one who was suffering.

Cancer invaded his body, it started in his lungs, and spread to his liver. I never had enemies in my life until cancer came along. I hated the tumors, but no matter how many times I'd wish for them to go away, they never did. The prognosis was bad. I would have 6-12 more months with my father. We were now four months into treatment, yet the tumors continued to grow. Four months of coming into this hospital almost every day. I'd study the nurses' station, watched them work, answering the phones continuously. I knew their names, where they were from, what they had for lunch each day. It wasn't uncommon for me to be here alone. My mother had a business to run. I put dance on the back burner. I didn't need to dance when my father laid there in his hospital bed. I couldn't leave him alone for fear of him dying with no one by his side. So, most days, I sat alone, my backside aching from the cheap chairs I was forced to sit in day in and day out.

It was the day I was told to prepare my last words. How do you say goodbye to someone who brought you into the world? I sat, the notepad resting on my lap, my pen tapping against the paper lightly. The pen I held so tightly in my fingers refused to mark on the empty page. The words, "I love you," left an indent in the paper, but the ink did not transfer. It's almost as if my words were once there, but disappeared, much like how I would feel when my father was gone. When my father was gone. The thought I hated most kept ricocheting in my mind. I grabbed hold of the pen tighter this time, pressing harder onto the blank page. "I love you," were the only words I could write out. If I wrote I love you over and over until I ran out of space on the page, do you think my father would understand just how much I loved him? Would ink on a piece of yellow legal paper be enough to prove it? I concluded that writing the same statement over and over would be useless, because no matter how many times I wrote it, it would never be enough.

I folded the yellow paper once, twice, three times, making it as small as can be, not wanting it to be opened. I didn't want my father to read my goodbye words. I didn't want there to ever be a goodbye. The letter fell onto the linoleum floor, and I was tempted to kick it under the chair, hoping it would get swept up into the janitors' dirt catcher and thrown into the garbage, never to be seen again. But my father needed to read those words, or so the therapist had told me. I picked up the letter, fiddling with it between my fingers. I would place it on his nightstand tonight. He would wake up in the morning, the cancer no longer affecting his body, tell me how great of a day it was because I was his daughter, and we would live happily ever after.

Four months was how much time it took before the cancer won. My letter was never opened and I realized, happily ever afters only existed in stories. Starting that night, the nightmares began, and the only time I didn't feel alone is when I was left searching for my