That Summer With Me - Julie Prestsater

Chapter 1


Melody tried to hold back her tears. She gave it her best shot and lasted a whole three and a half minutes before she broke down completely. Her nose tingled with warmth, and her eyes burned as the tears fell endlessly from her eyes, down her cheeks, and down her neck until the neckline of her hoodie soaked them up.

“Mrs. Valdez, Georgie is going to be okay,” Dr. Thompson said as she rolled her chair over to Melody and placed a hand on hers. “It’s a mild ear infection. You caught it quickly, so she hasn’t been in pain long. A round of antibiotics will clear it up in no time.”

It was too late. Melody was now sobbing into the doctor’s shoulder. The doc patted her back and tried to reassure her again and again that it would be okay, but the crying didn’t stop.

Dr. Thompson scooped up Georgie and put her on Melody’s lap. “Look, she’s okay. She’s already feeling better.” Georgie nudged her little head under Melody’s hand and licked her fingers.

This seemed to snap Melody out of her trance. She shook her head and swiped her tears away with the cuff of her sleeve. “Oh my gosh,” Melody’s voice was shaky. “I’m so embarrassed.”

“It’s okay,” the doctor said for what was likely the hundredth time since she’d gotten there. “What’s wrong? How can I help? Is there someone I can call? Husband? Boyfriend? Mom? Dad? Girlfriend?” The questions kept firing at her.

Husband? Boyfriend? Dad? Oh no. The men in Melody’s life had proven to be useless. From the time she was born, she hadn’t found one yet she could count on. Maybe she should get herself a girlfriend.

“I’m so sorry.” Melody cuddled Georgie, giving her a good rub under her chin. “I’m a blubbering idiot.” She continued to pet her caramel brown Toy Poodle. “I’m a mess,” she added. “It’s not about Georgie, though. Thank you so much for taking care of her. It’s my mom. This is the first time I’ve been alone with my thoughts since we heard the news, and I guess I needed a moment to break down, but I’ll be fine. Just give me a minute.” Melody waved her hand in front of her own face. She was sure she looked like a hot mess, and she needed to get herself straight.

They sat for a bit in silence before the veterinarian scooted away. She leaned forward, her elbows on her knees, and gave Melody a sympathetic smile. “If you talk about it, it might help. What’s happening with your mom?”

Melody thought about what the doc said. She had kind eyes. They reminded her of her daughter’s and instantly put her at ease. She let out an audible gust of air when she exhaled and then started talking. “My mom was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer. When her doctor decided on a wait and watch approach, we did our research and decided we wanted a second opinion. He didn’t even want to do a biopsy. We asked for a referral to the best cancer center in the area, but we just found out the doctor is dragging his feet because he doesn’t think it’s necessary. Now, the referral is being delayed, and it could take three months to get into the center using other channels.”

“Three months?” Dr. Thompson’s eyes widened.

“That’s what I’m saying. I don’t get it. Yesterday morning, we woke up feeling positive. The cancer is still local, but in three months, who knows where it’ll be? I don’t know how long it takes to progress through the stages, and I don’t want to find out. How can one doctor be such a roadblock to exploring all treatment options? To get the complete picture? She may not even have cancer. We need a biopsy for confirmation. There has to be a better system.”

“Yeah, that’s tough,” she said. “I’m so sorry.”

“We thought we’d come up here for a quick vacation, get out of our heads and have some fun, then head back for a plan of attack.” She threw her hands up in frustration. “No such luck.”

“Where are you visiting from?”

“Southern California.”

“And you came all the way to Seattle in an RV?” The doctor smiled. She must have caught sight of the thirty-five-foot house-on-wheels parked outside. “Tell me more.”

Melody wondered if Dr. Thompson was really interested or if she was just trying to get her mind off the C word. When the vet raised her brows, she decided it was genuine interest.

“My mom,