Autumn's Wind

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Chapter 1: Sweet Sixteen
(by NativeRose, added on 10 March 2004 06:55 PM)


Autumn Hansen stood at her locker. She listened to the sounds of the crowded hallway behind her, students at their lockers, having gab sessions, running off to classes. She picked up her books for the morning's classes and walked toward homeroom.
"Hey, Autumn!" Her best friend, Anna waved to her from the other end of the hallway.
"Hey, Autumn, are you going to play practice after school?"
"Yeah, I'll be there."
"Will you tell Miss Jenkins I'll be late?"
"Yeah, sure thing."
"Thanks, Autumn. You're a lifesaver!"
"Where are you going?"
"Oh, I just have something I need to do before play practice."
"Okay, whatever. See you at lunch!" They went their separate ways. Autumn didn't think much of Anna's mysterious errand until they met at play practice after school.


Chapter 2: The Big Day Forgotten
(by NativeRose, added on 11 March 2004 07:00 PM)


"Happy birthday!" Anna sang as she thrust a bunch of flowers at Autumn.
"Oh wow! I completely forgot! What with all the stuff going on..." Her thoughts trailed off as they walked into the auditorium for practice.
"Anna, we have practice today, right? I mean, we have to...our performance of Phantom of the Opera is next week. Where is everyone?"
"Surprise!" the entire cast shouted. They all began applauding as they gathered around her.
"We wanted this day to be extra special for you," Anna explained.
"You've been under a lot of stress lately. I mean, with your parents' divorce, your mom having to take two jobs, and everything else, we thought you needed a break. You need to have a little fun!" Autumn's mom approached, carrying a lavishly decorated cake.
"Mom!"
"Yes, I know. Today is your special day. I took the afternoon off to spend it with you."
"Oh wow! This is amazing!"
"What are you going to do for your birthday?"
"Yeah, you never told us what you wanted. Thanks for making us guess!"
"Happy birthday!" Amidst all the shouts and questions, she stood speechless; all she could do was smile.


Chapter 3: Birthday Fun
(by Shanda , added on 28 March 2004 01:38 AM)


Autumn still stood there speechless as everyone around her laughed at her. Her mom put the cake onto a table and hugged her daughter.
"Happy Birthday, Autumn Rose". She said into her ear.
Anna took a knife and cut the cake and placed it onto flowered plates for everyone to eat. Autumn made a wish, and dug into her cake, ravenous.
After the eating of cake and ice cream was over, presents were handed out. Autumn got a new CD from Anna, a new outfit from her grandparents *(they sent it by her Mom) and a hardcover Bible from her boyfriend, Clayton. The Bible was the New Living Translation, one Autumn had wanted for years.
After all the birthday fun was had, they got down to play practice with it being just a week away. During the practice, Autumn's head began to throb violently and taking an over-the-counter medicine didn't help.

ractice over, Autumn and her Mom drove home. Autumn's head was hurting so bad now that she couldn't see well, and tears were streaming down her cheeks because of the pain.
Autumn had never known pain like this, nor did she ever in her life think she'd experience what was about to come.


Chapter 4: The Prison of Pain
(by NativeRose, added on 29 March 2004 07:23 PM)


Autumn collapsed onto her bed when they got home from school.
"Mom, I can't take this anymore!" she wailed.
"The pain...it's just excruciating!" Finally, Lynne Hansen decided it was time to take her daughter to the hospital emergency room.

After a CT scan and an MRI, doctors came to Lynne and Autumn with some unexpected news. Autumn had a brain tumor.


Chapter 5: Questions
(by NativeRose, added on 5 April 2004 08:42 PM)


Autumn was still in shock. She couldn't believe this. Other people had cancer; it couldn't affect her family. This couldn't be true. What would happen next? Would she need an operation? Would the doctors try to treat it with chemotherapy or radiation? How would all this be paid for? She knew the medical procedures and treatments would be costly, and there was only one source of income in the family, her mother. Her mother struggled just to make ends meet. What would happen next? Still the questions tumbled in her mind, like a child's building blocks. How she wished she could be a child once more, young, carefree, nothing to worry about. She reminded herself that the one thing she had to cling to was that Jehovah was with her always, child or not, and he would never leave her. She reminded herself that Jehovah would hear her prayers, and only he could give her the strength she needed to face this disease.


Chapter 6: Life Continues
(by Shanda , added on 7 April 2004 04:50 PM)


The chemo had begun two weeks ago. Autumn was throwing up almost daily, and was so tired. She had very little strength for anything now, and any extra activities such as her drama, were out of the question.
Autumn's friends had been there for her in the last two weeks, and she knew they'd continue to be.
She'd also met Jeffrey, a guy a year older than her who was in the hospital dealing with complications that had arisen since his last seizure. Jeffrey was tall, had black hair, and sky-blue eyes. He was also blind, but this bothered Autumn none.
She and Jeffrey got along well, and he loved Jehovah as much as she did. This type of thing was important to Autumn and always had been from the moment she'd ever started to consider dating anyone.
She'd never dated, and now with this cancer, she figured she never would. No guy would ever like her enough to date her she thought, but Jeffrey decided to prove her wrong.


Chapter 7: no blood!
(by Jamin Peace, added on 13 April 2004 11:56 PM)


Audumn knew what all this meant, being one of Jehovah's people and being this sick was risky. A real trust in Jehovah and the ressurrection hope was what kept her strong. Before the surgery, a couple of elders from the medical leiazon committee were dispatched to talk to the docters who would be performing the surgery. They explained that their belief that no blood during the surgery was number one, and if the docters at this hospital were not willing to perform the surgery without blood, they would have to find one that was. Luckily, the docters had no problem with this.

Autumn was placed on blood thinners so that the loss of blood would be minimal and her daily bible study kept her reassured that if anything should go wrong, she would be resserrected in the new system and be able to enjoy perfect life.

Having her spiritual brothers and sisters there with her was a great comfort, the cards and visits were much appreciated and the introduction of new medicines such as erythropoietin and nonblood volume expanders such as saline solution gave her reassurance that she could make it through ok.

Autumn faced the future with confidence, although she did not know the outcome of the surgery, she had trust in her god, and even if she should die on the opperating table, at least she knew that what she was doing was right in Jehovah's eyes.


Chapter 8: Anna
(by NativeRose, added on 14 April 2004 08:25 PM)


Anna walked home from school with her friends Lauren, Jenna, Leah, and...no Autumn wasn't with them on this particular day. She had had a seizure that day in school due to her brain tumor. She had been rushed to the hospital for further testing. Anna wondered where she was at that moment. She knew Autumn had another treatment that afternoon. Jenna's voice broke into her thoughts.
"Anna, are you listening?"
"Oh, what was that?"
"Are you going to the dance on Friday night?"
"How can you even think of such a thing at a time like this? Autumn is in the hospital, she's currently having another chemotherapy treatment, and you're worried about what you're going to wear to the dance?"
"Well, yeah, I guess you're right."
"You realize that she won't be able to go to this dance that everyond is so excited about?" Lauren said.
"Yeah, what a bummer."
"Hey, why can't we bring the dance to her? Why couldn't we have a party just for Autumn?" anna suggested. Thus began the plans and preparations for Autumn's special day.


Chapter 9: The Dance
(by Shanda , added on 20 April 2004 09:18 PM)


Autumn lay on the hospital bed, weak from her chemo earlier that morning. A radio played softly by her bed, and her mom sat by her holding her hand.
Suddenly, Autumn heard a noise outside and heard her friend Anna's voice.
"Surprise! Autumn, we brought tonight's school dance to you in a way. Jeffrey's here and I am, and Gena, and a couple others are coming a bit later..."
Autumn sat up and held her hands out to all of her friends. Each clasped it in return, but it was Jeffrey who clasped it for the longest time.
A up-beat song began to play, and Autumn began to sway while sitting on her bed. Of course, she was to worn out to dance and Anna and her friends hadn't thought of this as they might have done. But, they still had fun.
Autumn's mom decided to play a slow song that she'd loved when she was a girl, and Jeffrey took this opportunity to sit by Autumn on the bed and gently take her hand in his.
They swayed slowly to the music, both of them living in a different world far from that of the hospital where they'd both been cooped up so long unsure of where their lives were headed.


Chapter 10: Through the Eyes of a Mother
(by NativeRose, added on 27 April 2004 08:14 PM)


Lynne saw many emotions displayed on Autumn's face as they danced--fear of the unknown, a trust in an almighty God, graditude for her mother and friends who put the whole thing together, and a love for the man who sat beside her. She smiled at the thought of what this budding romance could bring, she saw happiness in store for them... Then she was abruptly brought back to reality. Her daughter fell silent, her hand slipped limply from Jeffrey's grasp, her eyes rolled back in her head as she slipped into unconsciousness.


Chapter 11: Emergency
(by Caitlin, added on 2 May 2004 05:00 PM)


Automn fell back on her pillows, inert and silent.
"Quick!" Lin cried, "call the doctor!"
Anna and Jenna dashed from the room, faces white and terrified.
The doctors came in, ready to perform the usual seizure protection procedures. But something was wrong. Automn was not responding at all. Jeffry stood by the bed, unsure of what to do, as the doctors shouted orders and became slowly, almost imperceptibly, more and more desperate.
"Jeffry," a nurse said, grabbing him rather roughly by the upper arm, "Jeffry, you need to get out of the way."
"But I want to stay with Automn..."
"Never mind, she'll be fine." And the nurse hauled the patient away.
Anna and the rest of Automn's friends returned, only to be shooed away.
"We're going to have to take her to another hospital, Lin," Automn's main doctor said, raising her eyes from Automn's slackened and pale face, brushing the girl's long hair away from her closed eyes. Lin looked ashen, but the worst was yet to come.


Chapter 12: What Next?
(by NativeRose, added on 3 May 2004 05:56 PM)


Lynne stood next to her daughter's bed, listening to the beeping monitors, staring at Autumn's blank face. What went so horribly wrong? Everything seemed to be just fine, and then the seizure...things plummeted from there. Autumn was taken to Rochester. A CT scan showed the rapid growth of the tumor. The chemotherapy only made Autumn sick, and nothing seemed to slow the growth of the brain tumor, and the cancer was spreading...
Lynne felt so helpless as she tried to untangle the maze of medical documents before her. The words on the page didn't make sense at all. This was her daughter they were talking about, not just some specimen, not just some more paperwork. She was so afraid of what was what to come, afraid of the unknown. Little did she know that what she feared was nothing like what was to come.


Chapter 13: Dwindling Dream
(by NativeRose, added on 6 May 2004 05:17 PM)


Autumn sat in her room. She had returned home yesterday. This is a journal entry her mother found later.


April 10, 2007

It's funny that Jeffrey hasn't contacted me. Maybe this illness was too much for him to handle. Has he given up on me, just like everyone else? Even my mom is losing hope. If I give up, what is left of me? I wanted to be a pediatric nurse, but it looks as if that is no longer a possibility. No one asks me about my future goals, dreams, and plans. Is that because everyone thinks I'm going to die?


Chapter 14: The Lifeline
(by NativeRose, added on 27 May 2004 04:06 AM)


Jamison Perkins walked home from school on that cold, snowy Thursday in December. He knew he just didn't want to live anymore. There was nothing for him, and no one would care if he ended it all, right here, in the middle of this desolate patch of trees. That's what he would do. But wait...where was he?

Jamison opened his eyes and stared at the glaring white lights of a hospital room. What was he doing there?
"Jamison," Janet, his mother, said softly. He could tell she had been drinking, her speech was slurred, and she swayed as she stood next to his bed. Her breath smelled of alcohol. He knew where she had been. Where was his father? Oh...right. Now he remembered.
"Jamison!" his father raved.
"What were you thinking? Why would you do something so stupid? You would try to commit suicide? You're a failure, you can't even succeed at killing yourself! You're a fool!" His father had been at the bar with his mother.
Security came in to escort Jamison's loud parents out of the hospital.
"We're not coming back!" Jamison's father shouted.
He sighed. How had he ended up here, anyway. His dad said he tried to kill himself? Then, it all came rushing back to him. He started to cry, despite his efforts to conceal his emotion. He didn't notice the girl in the bed next to him until she spoke.
"Jamison?" she said gently.
"What?" he snapped.
"I didn't mean to bother you. I just wanted to tell you that you are special no matter what your parents say. You're special because God loves you as you are."
"You don't know what I've... Did you say because God loves me? You believe in God?"
"Yes, I certainly do." She smiled.
"My name is Autumn Hansen."
"I'm Jamison Perkins. What are you in for?"
"Chemotherapy."
"Oh man, what a bummer."
"Yeah. Jamison, want to know something?"
"What's that?"
"You're a godsend. You see, I have felt that way. I didn't think there was any reason to go on. Then you landed in the bed next to me, and I decided I wanted to help you in any way I could."
"Really? You would do that for me? I'm just a lame religious nut, with two drunken parents who don't know which way is up. And I tried to kill myself, and I didn't succeed I'm a failure, just like my father said."
"Well, we're going to get you out of that. I don't care if it kills me."
"Autumn, I'm willing to battle the cancer along with you." Jamison turned and looked at her for the first time. The expression on her face told him she would stick to her word. It had been a long time since he'd met someone he could trust. She looked to be one of the few; still, she would have to prove this to him.

Autumn saw something in this boy whose heart was hardened, almost hardened beyond repair...almost, but not quite. She thought he just needed one good friend, someone who would always be there with him, someone he could trust. She wanted to be that person, she would do everything that was humanly possible to show him that he had a friend in her until the end, even if the end was only a month away.


Chapter 15: Jamison
(by NativeRose, added on 27 May 2004 07:47 PM)


Jamison Perkins had lived in Apple Valley, Georgia all his life. He was now sixteen, and a sophomore in high school. He attended the local Christian school, but he had seen Autumn around when he went to the public high school musical. She had played a wonderful Christine. Other than that, he had only seen her around town a few times. He never really thought anything of it, she was just another girl who would reject him, when she discovered what his parents were like.

His parents had been alcoholics for as long as he could remember. He was used to it by now, but it didn't make it any easier to see them stumble drunkenly through the door, and he was always dragging their lifeless bodies to bed, and cleaning up the mess left behind in their alcoholic stupor.
Nothing seemed to be going right, and he was enveloped in a hopeless darkness. That was before Autumn entered the picture. She was a ray of light in the midst of his despair. She accepted him as the lame religious kid with alcoholic parents. She was his friend, despite everything that was going on. She wanted to help him through his depression. He decided he would fight the cancer with Autumn; he would be there with her through the chemotherapy and the side effects of the treatment, and the pain associated with the cancer. He realized with startling clarity that he loved AutumnHanson...and didn't want to lose her.


Chapter 16: Autumn's Heart
(by NativeRose, added on 28 May 2004 03:46 AM)


Autumn looked over at Jamison sleeping in his hospital bed. The expression on his face looked so peaceful, and the tiny trace of a smile remained there. She wondered what he had been thinking when he fell asleep. She realized that she truly cared for Jamison, and she wanted to help him in any way she could. No, she didn't just care for him, that was in the beginning, she truly loved this young man. As for Jeffrey, he had moved on, the chemotherapy had taken it's toll on her, and he didn't find her attractive any longer, with her thin frame, pale face, and bald head, he saw her as ugly and didn't want to waste his time on her. Jamison was completely different. He respected her for who she was, that was one of the things she loved about him. She had heard the doctors talking about how he could go home soon, in tow days, to be exact. She was so afraid that he would leave and forget all about her. He would go back to his daily routine and forget she existed...but she so desperately wanted him, and she feared losing him.


Chapter 17: The Scare
(by Caitlin, added on 29 May 2004 08:56 PM)


Autumn lay in her bed, still watching Jamison's face. Suddenly, she felt so sick. Her stomach roiled, and she collapsed back on her pillows with a groan. Jamison stirred and walked to her bedside.
"Autumn, Autumn, are you okay?" he asked.
She didn't answer.
He looked into her pale face.
"Autumn?"
"It's okay," she said, "I'm fine. ... You can go back to bed, you know. I'm okay." She smiled slightly; his face was white and horrified.
"It's just a side-effect," Jamison said, "don't you worry about it, either."
"I won't," she said, "let's just go back to bed."
Jamison walked back to bed and slid under the blankets. This time, it was his turn to watch Autumn's peaceful face as she drifted off to sleep. He wondered what she was thinking. he had heard the doctors say he would go home in two days. He dreaded the horrible return to his parents, but he knew that it was all different now. Because of autumn. But what if she forgot him, and moved on?
"No, she won't," a voice in his mind said.
"She might," he argued with it.
Restlessly, he turned, not being able to look at Autumn's face any longer. suppose he lost her, too, like everyone else had left him, alone in his world of pain?


Chapter 18: Shards of Love
(by NativeRose, added on 30 May 2004 10:23 PM)


Autumn had actually had a petit mal seizure, but she didn't want to scare Jamison. She didn't want him to think she was crazy. But wait, she thought, why would he think I'm crazy? I want him to know how I feel but...what if he doesn't feel the same?

"Jamison?" He turned and looked toward the sound of her voice.
"I just want you to know that I love you."
"Me? No way!."
"Yeah, Jamison, I love you, and I...I don't want to lose you."
"I feel the same way, Autumn. I love you too, and I'm going to stick with you through your battle with cancer, and that's a promise. I don't break my promises." She smiled as his parents came to gather his belongings. She smiled, though she was dying inside. She wondered if he would forget her. Then...
"Jamison! I told you you had five minutes to collect your things. You're as slow as molasses, and about the same consistency." his mother, Janet grumbled.
"Mom, I'll find my own way home."
"Yeah, you do that," as she raised the bottle of beer, threw it at Autumn, and staggered out the door. Jamison turned toward Autumn's bed when he heard the glass shatter. Hot anger burned within him when he saw the glass shards scattered upon her face and in her hair. He stared as the blood trickled down her face; then rang for the nurse.


Chapter 19: The Golden Revival
(by NativeRose, added on 31 May 2004 03:14 AM)


Sariah Golden was the charge nurse on this particular night. She had seen the blossoming romance between the girl with cancer and the suicidal boy. It was so refreshing to see them draw hope from each other, and their shared love of Jehovah. She too, lived only for Jehovah...Oh, someone in that room needed something.
Sariah strode into the room, but stopped short when she saw Janet, face red, and Autumn with blood streaming down her face.
"Janet and Amos Perkins? You need to leave this hospital right away! Do I need to call security?"
"No, we'll leave, but don't expect us back to pick up that low-life religious nut, who's wasting his life on that thing." Amos growled as he pointed at Autumn. They staggered out of the room, as Sariah painstakingly removed the shards of glass and cleaned up her face. Jamison was there the entire time, holding her hand and speaking softly to her in calm, reassuring tones until she drifted into an uneasy, dreamless sleep.


Chapter 20: Early Morning Questioning
(by Caitlin, added on 19 June 2004 04:41 PM)


"Autumn? ... Autumn? Can you hear me?"
Autumn awoke. Pain shot through her face, but she ignored it--she was used to pain, far too used to it. She knew that she was more used to it than a girl of her age should be.
Now she realized that Jamison was calling her.
She opened her eyes drowsily.
"Jamison? ... Yeah, I hear you," she said.
"Autumn? ... Where will I go now? I have to leave the hospital, I don't need it anymore, and they'll kick me out. But my ..." He stopped.
"Go on," Autumn prompted gently.
"Well my parents don't want me ... they've as good as disowned me, abandoned me. So ... what should I do?"
Autumn smiled. "Easy. Go to my house."
"What?" Jamison sounded puzzled.
"Well ... my mom won't object. I mean she knows we're great friends. And when I'm out of here, we'll find you a place to live. A little apartment or something, and we can stay friends."
"I can't accept that offer, Autumn, it's too wonderful," Jamison said, flushing slightly.
"No, honestly, just take it," Autumn said with a smile.
"Really? Truly? Your mom won't mind?" Jamison asked.
"No, not at all, but you can ask her, if you like," said Autumn, "the number's beside the bed."
"I'll call her right now," Jamison said, reaching for the card and the phone. Holding these in one hand, he smoothed the bandages on Autumn's forehead with the other. "Go to sleep, Autumn. I'm sorry I woke you up so early."
"Don't be sorry, I'm glad you did," Autumn said, smiling, and leaning back into her pillows. "Now, neither of us needs to worry about much. At least, at this point in time."
And she drifted off to sleep as Jamison dialed Autumn's mom's number.


Chapter 21: On the Other Side
(by NativeRose, added on 21 June 2004 01:57 AM)


Lynne Hanson looked at her clock. It was 7:30 AM on a Saturday morning. Who would be calling her at this time? Then, she bolted from her bed. What if Autumn needed her?

"Hi, Lynne, it's Jamison. I was wondering, um, well, I'm being released from the hospital, and I have no place to go. My parents have...Oh, you would?...Wow, you're amazing...Autumn said you wouldn't mind, I guess she was right...Thank you ever so much!" He hung up the phone, smiling. Freedom would be within his reach in twenty minutes!

Lynne hurriedly dressed and rushed to the hospital.
"Good morning, Sariah. I've come to pick Jamison up this morning," she told the charge nurse, who knew her very well. Sariah Golden smiled.
"He's extremely blessed to have a temporary home available with you." Sariah smiled, as she moved toward Jamison and Autumn's room.


Chapter 22: Leaving
(by Caitlin, added on 21 June 2004 05:25 AM)


Autumn, though weak and tired, rose from her bed and hugged her mother with energy.
"THanks so much for doing this, Mom," she said, kissing her cheek shyly.
"Yeah," Jamison added, "it's so nice of you, really. I don't deserve this."
"Certainly you do, Jamison, you are, and always will be, I'm sure, a great friend to Autumn," Mrs. Hansen told him.
Together, the three of them gathered Jamison's things. Then the woman and the boy left the girl in bed, for the time being. THey were going to return home, get Jamison and his things settled in the house, and return later.
Autumn fell asleep, contented. Little did she know that her health would be at stake, and very soon, at that.


Chapter 23: The Darkness Falls
(by NativeRose, added on 24 June 2004 09:29 PM)


Lynne awoke with a start. She looked at her clock. It was 2:30 AM. Who in their right mind would call her at this time of night? She stumbled toward the phone.
"Hello?" she said groggily.
"Miss Keller?" (Lynne now went by her maden name, as she was divorced.) Lynne would know that voice anywhere.
"Sariah! What's wrong?"
"You need to come right away. The doctor who is on call tonight gave Autumn too much medication. She went into cardiac arrest; she is now on life support."
Sariah's words echoed in Lynne's ears. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. What kind of a doctor would do that?
"Why didn't he look at her chart!" Lynne screamed.
"Because...well, I'll keep my opinion to myself." Lynne hung up he phone, only to find Jamison's questions assailing her.
"What's going on? What's wrong with Autumn?"
"The doctor gave her too much medication...and she went into cardiac arrest...she's now on life support." She spoke the words, but they still didn't sound real to her. Somehow, she moved her lifeless legs toward the door, and the waiting vehicle.


Chapter 24: Jamison's Words
(by Caitlin, added on 30 June 2004 12:08 AM)


Jamison hurried after Autumn's mother into the hospital. His heart was pounding, and he could hardly keep is face from breaking into a panic, into a wave of desperate terror. He couldn't let anything happen to Autumn.
"Jamison! Jamison, over here, this elevator's open," Lynne called out hoarsely. Her tiredness and fear blended and her voice scared Jamison even more.
"Coming," he called, racing into the elevator.
Presently, they arrived at Autumn's floor.
Sariah Golden met them there.
"Come quickly," she said, "she's not well at all. I ... I pray we don't lose her," she said. Jamison saw, by her pale face, that this was nothing small. This was big and scary, and he didn't know if he could deal with it.
"I have to go see her," he cried feverishly.
"Go ahead, she's right in that room," Sariah said, indicating a doorway.
Jamison plowed through, but slowed at the sight of Autumn, hooked up to a great number of machines.
"Autumn!" He cried her name, then lowered his voice, and walked slowly to her bedside. She didnt' move, didn't register his presence at all. She was completely unconscious.
"Autumn?" He reached out tentatively, and took her hand. It wasn't cold, or heavy, it was just small, and lifeless.
"Autumn, hang on, please, please don't leave me. I ... I can't live without you." He tried to keep his voice steady, but it was quite a chore. All his love for her seemed about to fall off a cliff. He couldn't let her go. "Hold on, Autumn, please, please hold on. DOn't let go." And he released her hand, and stood by her bed. His view of her blurring through a steady rush of tears, and his love for her roaring within him, he knew that she was stepping closer to death, death was nearing her face. But behind her, life raged, and was trying to suck her back in.
It was in God's hands, and Jamison prayed for her as hard as he knew how, prayed and prayed, promising and questioning, and keeping his eyes on Autumn's face the entire time.
"Don't let go of life," he whispered to Autumn, as nurses began to trickle into her room again. "I'll always be here. I won't leave."


Chapter 25: A New Light
(by NativeRose, added on 30 June 2004 03:40 AM)


Jamison remained with her throughout the next two days. He couldn't wrench his eyes from her still, lifeless face. She looked at peace, like all the strain bothered her little. Her body spoke of something completely different. She looked wasted and pale. Autumn had grown so very thin, and with all those tubes, needles, and machines, she looked to be a different person. His thoughts were interrupted when...

"Sariah! Sariah!" He bolted from the room.
Sariah ran from the nurses station.
"What is it?" she asked breathlessly.
"Autumn! She...she..." He pointed toward the doorway.
Sariah rushed in, and stopped short. Autumn had opened her eyes.


Chapter 26: She's Okay?
(by Caitlin, added on 30 June 2004 03:55 AM)


"Autumn!" Sariah said, looking eagerly into her small face. "Can you hear me?"
When she spoke, her voice was hoarse.
"Sariah? Is that you?"
"Yes, Autumn. oh, thank goodness you're conscious!"
"Did I have a seizure?" asked autumn.
"No, you didn't," Sariah said, dashing to the foot of the bed and consulting some printouts the machines attached to Autumn had just spat into trays. "The nurse on duty overdosed your medication and you went into cardiac arrest."
"Oh geez," Autumn exclaimed.
"How do you feel, Autumn?" Sariah questioned.
"Okay, i guess. My chest kind of hurts." She looked down. "Whoa. Could one more tube fit in there?"
"I know, Autumn. I know. They're giving you medication and food and oxygen and all. Not all those are in your chest, but have connections there. We'll be taking some of those off, now that you've awakened."
"Cool," Autumn said with a small smile.
Jamison came up to her.
"Hi," he said shyly.
"Oh, hi, Jamison," she said, smiling. "I had a dream about you, I think. You were beside me. And you were talking, but ... I didn't hear the words. You sounded like you were praying."
"I was," Jamison said, a lump in his throat. "I always will be."


Chapter 27: The Transition
(by NativeRose, added on 9 July 2004 12:23 AM)


Lynne Hanson was never more relieved to see her daughter wheeled back to oncology. The cancer had fled her mind when Sariah told her Autumn was clinging to life.
" Does God answer prayers or what?" Jamison asked Lynne.
"Yes, He most certainly does."
"Where was God when that crazy nurse gave me the pain medication."
"Well, God was there all along. However, you'll be relieved to know that that particular nurse no longer works here. Doris was fired right after the incident."
"How many patients did she have to kill before they understood what was going on?" Autumn asked bitterly.
"Autumn, you should be thankful that Sariah was on duty, otherwise, you would be dead. You're someone special to her, as is Jamison."
"Really, me?" they asked in unison. They looked at each other and burst out laughing.
By this time, they had made it back to the oncology floor of the hospital. Autumn was never so happy to see her old hospital room. She gasped when she saw what had been done.
A banner that said WELCOME BACK, AUTUMN was strung along one wall. There were streamers in the doorway, along with balloons to add to the party decor.
"We're so glad you're back with us," Sariah smiled, as she helped Autumn transfer from wheelchair to hospital bed.
"I was really scared when we had to take you to the intensive care unit," Sariah said before she left the room, to chart Autumn's current condition and vitals.


Chapter 28: Sweet Relief
(by Caitlin, added on 10 July 2004 02:01 AM)


Autumn lay in her bed, looking around at her familiar room. The banner was still strung up, the nurses and patients on the floor had refused Autumn's embarrassed request to have it taken down. Autumn gazed at the banner admiringly, happily, fondly. She was so glad to be back.
Settling back under the covers, she felt so at peace. Though her head ached slightly, she ignored it. Probably just the hustel and bustle of the move from floor to floor, she thought to herself.
She relaxed, a smile on her face.
How good it was to be at her second home, her home in the hospital.
Back with the patients and nurses and doctors she knew.
Back where she belonged.
Presently, Autumn slept, the most peaceful rest she had had in quite sometime.


Chapter 29: Awakening Again
(by NativeRose, added on 7 August 2004 03:29 AM)


When Autumn awoke, she was comforted to find Jamison there. He smiled when he saw her eyes flutter.
"You were really sleeping, big time. I haven't seen anything like that in a long time."
"Yeah, I guess I just feel at peace here. It's like this is my home away from home, you know? This is where I spend so much of my time. Well, I've been here constantly for the last two months. Sometimes I wonder when I'll take a dive and not resurface."
Jamison gasped. She had never spoken like this in their many conversations. She knew the inevitable was to come, she just didn't know when. He tried not to think about Autumn dying, and when it would happen. Honestly, that was the one thing that scared Jamison more than anything, his parents' drunken rage, going off to college, nothing caused him anxiety like this, only when he thought of Autumn's death. Jamison loved her so much; the English language was so limiting, he just couldn't express his feelings for Autumn, but he didn't want to lose her. He didn't know what he would do when she was gone.


Chapter 30: Autumn's last chat...
(by Alison, added on 19 September 2004 03:35 AM)


Autumn talked to Anna over the next week, also speaking occasionally with Sierra and Scott. Although Sierra had gone home, they often talked on instant messanger, and on the phone. Scott visited, and also, they had talks on the phone. she always remembered to give Scott and/or Anna a hug before they left, for she new she might not see them again. she always remembered to tell Sierra that she loved her, encase...just encase.
As for Jamison, he visited her as offten as Lyn could take him, standing by her bedside, talking to her in a soothing voice. Autumn always remembered to give Jamison, and her mother, a hug as well.
"Autumn...?autumn? are you up?" Jamison's soothing voice reached her ears, and she sat up.
"yes, jamison. I am."
"Ah good."
"I'm just a bit tired...you know."
"yes, I do know...I'll let you go back to sleep now." he gave her a soft kiss on the cheek, and left the room. Autumn did not know, however, that, if Sariah had not been on duty that night, that would have been her last conversation with jamison...forever.


Chapter 31: Slipping into Darkness
(by NativeRose, added on 20 September 2004 12:08 AM)


Autumn drifted off to sleep, the memory of her conversation with Jamison lingered long after he left. He was always so...but she didn't finish the thought. She drifted off to sleep, ohnly to be wrenched from the peaceful land of slumber an hour later. She couldn't breathe. This had happened to her before, as the cancer had spread to other body systems. It invaded her lungs, and she recognized these symptoms, but it was too late. She frantically searched for the "panic button" as she called it. Sariah rushed into the room and took one look at Autumn's face.
"Code red!" she notified the appropriate people, who rushed into the room to revive the unconscious girl.
"She's seizing as well. The lack of oxygen to her brain is not a good thing." Sariah was wheeled away to ICU, where she was connected to machines that would breathe for her.

"Hello?" Lynne sleepily picked up the phone.
"Oh...she's...what? Okay, be right there!" She slammed the phone down, and rushed to arouse Jamison, then ran frantically out the door with Jamison on her heels.


Chapter 32: Jamison's mind
(by Alison, added on 20 September 2004 01:23 AM)


Jamison couldn't speak--he couldn't think. Autumn...
"Jamison---here!" Lyn cried hoarsely, motioning him in to an elevator. he ran to it, and slammed the button for Autumn's floor.
Jamison had to fight hard to hold back tears, the tears that Lyn was also battling to control. He loved Autumn so much...how could she have cancer? It wasn't fair, to him, or autumn, he thought.
they were there. the doors opened, and he rushed toward Autumn's room.
"Autumn!" he whispered, rushing to her bedside. he took her hand. small, lifeless.
"Autumn." he repeated, now letting the tears flow freely from his eyes as he watched her still face.
He stood there, by her bedside, holding her hand, not letting go of it for a second.
"Autumn...don't do this--don't leave...hold on," he said, as he heard Lyn come in.
"I'll leave you with Autumn," he said, and left the room, sadness in him, mingling with wory, and anger at this cancer...this disease that was killing his friend.


Chapter 33: The Fight for Life
(by NativeRose, added on 24 September 2004 01:49 AM)


Autumn walked through the fields, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her face. There was a river nearby, sparkling blue, and she sat on a boulder just to watch life continuing around her. This is what I want when I die, she thought, for she knew it wouldn't be long. Well, no matter, her thoughts continued, I'm going to enjoy this...wait, maybe I am dead, and this is....the scent of the flowers, the music of the birds, the radiant joy of the sunshine.... Who was speaking to her? the voice sounded like that of Jamison, but it couldn't be! She was dead, and there was no way he could....

Autumn slowly opened her eyes. Where was she? the birds were gone, her sense of peace suddenly shattered by the bright lights and beeping monitirs. However, the clear voice of the one she loved lingered. It was then that she realized he was speaking to her.

"Autumn!" Jamison couldn't believe what he was seeing. He was sure they had lost the battle. Still, when he had first noticed the signs of life returning, the seed of hope tried to persist, but he couldn't...what if she didn't make it this time?


Chapter 34: The Brief Respite
(by NativeRose, added on 23 July 2005 12:16 AM)


Autumn slowly opened her eyes once more, for she thought she might be able to look at the light. She saw the blurry images of her mother and Jamison beside her bed. The faces were distorted, but the voices were clear enough.
"Autumn!" Her mother spoke with a tremulous voice, fighting back tears, those of the raging storm within her.
"She made it again."
"Oh, thank God!"
"Oh yes, praise him for sure, but...oh God, let her live!" Autumn couldn't tell the difference in the voices anymore, she was falling asleep again...or was she?


Chapter 35: The choice
(by NativeRose, added on 23 July 2005 12:29 AM)


The next thing Autumn heard was...another voice? She tried to focus on the words, and she recognized that voice...but who was it? Oh yes, it was her doctor.

"Autumn doesn't have much longer. I know this is going to be hard for you, but you need to plan ahead. Do you want to sign a DNR?"
"No! I will not kill my daughter!"
"I don't know much about medicine, but if the chemotherapy isn't working, and we know Autumn is going to...she'll... well, you know, shouldn't we try to make sure she's as comfortable as possible? I mean, treat the patient, not the disease, right?"
"you're a smart kid, Perkins..." the doctor began, but Lynne abruptly cut him off.
"How can you say that, Jamison? She's not going to die!" With that, she turned and fled from the room.

Lynne knew Jamison was right, but she just couldn't accept it. She saw the logic in what he said, and the doctors didn't think she'd survive for much longer either. Was Lynne the only one to hold out any hope for her daughter, or was she just trying to protect herself from her reality? Her life was falling apart, her husband had left her for another woman, and now her daughter was dying. Autumn had been everything to her, especially after her husband left. What would she do without her daughter? How would she survive? She couldn't lose her! Lynne gasped as the full implication of her current thoughts hit her. She was thinking about how she would survive, when her daughter was grasping, searching for the thin threads of her life? She was just trying to hold onto her own life. No, Lynne mustn't think like that. Despite what Jamison and the doctors said, her daughter would live. She wouldn't give up on Autumn.


Chapter 36: A Miracle
(by reinhard, added on 24 July 2005 03:22 AM)


Jamison studied the ER, he thought that he would not have to see this room again. He decided that the best and only thing he really could do for Autumn right now was to pray. I looked again at Autumn's face, thinking how pail it looked and wished for the 100th time that he had the power of heeling like Jesus does. He decided that the first order of business was to call his church. He knew many of the people in his church would be willing to come up there to pray for Autumn. Even if they did not come up here to pray for her they would pray for her at home. He walked down the cold hall down to find a phone.

Jamison first called the pastor of Hope (the true name of the church was called The Living Hope assembly of God). Everyone just called the church Hope.
"pastor Jack speaking, how may I help you?" Jamison was very happy that he had gotten in touch with Jack. Jack and he had been having weekly talks about Jamison's won on going bouts of depression. The pastor has said that the mood swings had a lot to do with the great amount of stress Jamison was going through.

"pastor, I really need your help this time. One of my best friends (remember the girl I was telling you about); she is not doing very well at all. I would like to have the church start a prayer chain for her. My prayer is that she will be heeled of her sickness and that all the pain would be going. I know that my Lord is able to help her and I believe that he can."
Well," said Jack "I sure will start the prayer chain and I am on my way up tot he hospital to see the condition of ..."
"Autumn" said Jamison.
Pastor Jack side, "right. I will be up there as soon as I can."

Jamison felt a lot better knowing that his entire church was now praying for Autumn.

Now here is the scary fact, Autumn's condition was very bad in deed. The doctors normally did not allow family in the IR, but they figured that Autumn only had a just a few hours left so having the family and friends there in the room would be a good thing for Autumn and the family. Autumn's body was so full of cancer that it was a merical that she was still alive. The lead doctor scratched his head and wondered why Autumn was still alive. It shocked him greatly to have seen Autumn open her eyes and talk to her friend. Love sure has some amazing capabilities. The lead doctor believed that love was the only thing that was keeping Autumn alive at this point.

Jamison thought that the only thing that was keeping Autumn alive was that it was not her time to go see Jesus. He knew that she has some weird beliefs, but he also knew that she was a Christian. Autumn and he have had some deep discussions about Jesus and he was able to answer some questions that she has in her mind about salvation and how the best way was to get to heaven. Jamison believed that the only way one could get to heaven was through Jesus and the only way you could do that was through the cross. He believed that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the word. Since he had been into the hospital he had reaffirmed his belief in Jesus. He knows that with His help that Autumn would pull this one off some how.


Chapter 37: A Quiet Strength
(by NativeRose, added on 24 July 2005 04:25 PM)


When Lynne returned to Autumn's hospital room, all was quiet. She was surprised to find her daughter there alone. Where had Jamison gone? Well, he was a smart boy as the doctor has said, and he wouldn't get into any trouble. Lynne would take advantage of the time she had alone with her daughter. She took a deep breath. What could she say to her daughter? Autumn had enough troubles of her own, and Lynne had to be strong for her, Autumn needed support, and Lynne couldn't fall apart. The quiet voice and softly spoken words shattered Lynne's thoughts.
"I know you're struggling with this, perhaps more than i am. You don't need to worry about me, Mom. You have enough stuff to think about as it is. You don't have to fight for me, I know what's happening. I have come to a place where I can accept the fact that I'm dying. Weep for me not, for I shall see you again, in the new system of things. Instead, rejoice because you know we will meet again."
"Autumn! Don't say such things!" Lynne said sharply.
"How long can you deny it?"
"Have you given up as well, Autumn? Jamison and the doctors have convinced you that you're not going to make it. I refuse to believe that! Don't give up yet. It is not time for that."
"I understand what you're saying, but we all have to face what is to come. I am dying." Lynne couldn't listen to any more of this talk. She was about to leave the room when she noticed the figure standing in the forehead. She gasped when she saw who it was...for it was Autumn's father.


Chapter 38: Introduction to His Savior
(by NativeRose, added on 24 July 2005 04:51 PM)


Autumn's friends and the people from Jamison's congregation who had come to pray for her had left hours earlier. Then her mother had entered to talk about her own feelings; Autumn understood what her mother was saying, how she felt, but Autumn was at peace with her life. She knew that Jehovah her God, and Jesus her Savior cared for her, saw everything, and of utmost importance was the fact that God loved Autumn. He was a merciful God...
"I think Autumn is right," the voice shattered her thoughts just as her mother's had been scattered before. Autumn looked toward the sound of the voice, opened her eyes, and gasped, as her mother had done. However, anger did not cloud her eyes, she greeted her father with a smile and began to speak, but Lynne interrupted.
"Well, it took you long enough! You finally decided to take part in your daughter's life, now that she is dying? What right have you to enter into her life now and presume to know what's best for her. You, Jason, are not needed, and we certainly don't want you here!"
"That's not true! I'm glad you're here, Dad. This isn't exactly the ideal place to catch up on things, but I'm happy to see you just the same."
"Autumn, you don't know what you're saying! You know how..."
"It seems to me that it's Autumn's decision, and you should respect that." They all looked to see the second person to entered the room.
"Thanks, Jamison," Autumn said quietly.
"How dare you..." Lynne began once again.
"I don't mean to be disrespectful, but if you can't handle this stuff, maybe you should leave until her father goes to his hotel for the evening." Jamison spoke from his place beside Autumn.
"You also think you know what's best for her! She's not your child!" Lynne left the room immediately, and collided with Autumn's oncologist.
"I see that the fervent prayers for you did something amazing." she said. "I didn't expect you to be awake and talking."
"Yeah, Jehovah's works are wondrous, that's for sure," Autumn responded. The doctor left and her father started to speak.

"Hey, who are you?" He directed this abrupt question at Jamison.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to introduce you. This is my best friend, Jamison Perkins."
"You seem to be a religious kid. Did Autumn "help" you with that?"
\"Her passion kind of helped me rekindle my own relationship with God."
"If you're at peace with this...I want to know who this God is." Autumn's father turned back to her.
"Well, I believe that Jesus is the only true way to reach God, the Bible tells us that. Only He can give me the peace "that passes all understanding." I know what is going to happen to me when I die! I shall know nothing, as Ecclesiastes tells me, and then I'll be reunited with all other who have found the truth in Christ Jesus. You see, there is no reason for me to be afraid." Jason pondered his daughter's statements. He didn't know what to make of all this religious talk. However, he figured Lynne was not a "believer," and she was a mess. Autumn, who was the one slipping away, had this amazing peace that she attributed to her God. Maybe there was something to all this talk about Jehovah; he would have to ask Autumn and Jamison to help him learn more.


Chapter 39: yet another mirical
(by toni kalvans, added on 21 April 2006 05:31 PM)


"so how do you get close to god then?" asked her farther. Autum suddenly seemed to re-gain some strength and sat bult upright. Her face lit up and she looked totally relaxed. "Dad you simply ask jesus to come in to your life thats all." a nurse came in and gasped. "Autum your up? how has this happened the colour is back in your cheeks!" Autum smiled and reached for jamisans hand. "Its faith, god and my friends and family that have given me this strength and courage. I know the road is long and uncertain, but i've my faith friends family as much medical care as can be offered, what more could i want? i could sit and feel sorry for myself but u all know thats just not me!" lin was back in the room to. "ddarling, whatever it is its a mirical and i'm going to cherish the valuable time i have with you. WE all love you so much Autum, never forget that."


Chapter 40: Acceptance
(by NativeRose, added on 21 April 2006 10:39 PM)


Autumn's mother wasn't sure what to make of all this talk about God, this Jesus character and miracles. What did it all mean for her daughter? How had she come to this conclusion. She figured it had to be that person...Brendan? He was totally "on fire for God" as he called it. She had always thought he was a little overzealous, but if it made her daughter happy...
"...and so you see," Autumn was saying, "I'm not worried about dying. The Bible says that all my days were numbered before I was born. I don't know if that's seventeen years or seventy years. God already knows what's going to happen to me. I just want to reflect Jesus...during the time that I have left. I know where I'm going, I know what is going to happen to me when I die, but I want to make sure you're all there with me. Read the Bible, examine the things we have talked about, and you'll see that it is true. Just...don't put it off; we never know how long we have left."
"Wow, that's some pretty profound stuff coming from a sixteen-year-old," her mother marveled at her daughter's ability to accept whatever came. Autumn seemed to have a kind of peace. She wasn't afraid to die, she believed she would be reunited with everyone who believed Jesus as their Savior...would her mother and father be among that group? She already knew Jamison had accepted these things wholeheartedly as the truth. If Lynne's daughter could speak of her impending death so calmly, with such an undeniable assurance that she would go to heaven...shouldn't Lynne look into it?


Chapter 41: Lynne starts to turn to god.
(by ian mcnamara, added on 7 May 2006 06:40 PM)


On that sunday morning after autams fantastick speach lynne went to church with jamerson.
"Good morning miss keller. it is nice to see you here this morning."
Lynne nodded and went to sit down with jamerson. She really enjoyed the servace and when they got home asked jamerson if she could read his bible.

"Yes sure you can if you need any help to understand things then just let me know and i will help you with it. That is important ou understand."
When they got to the hosbitall they found autem p and about and out of bed.

"What is going on here?" asked lynne.
"Aauem is showing improovement said the doctor we are giving her some more tests tomorrow."

"Mom sorry you wheir write not to trust dad, he has gone again and says he can't deel with me being ill but now i am immprooving he does not need to bother with me any more."

"I am sorry deer just remember i and jamerson and god are here."
"Autem mom came to church with me this morning."

lynne and jamerson told her about the service and they all had a long chat about the future and what was lightly to come.



Chapter 42: Jason's Heart
(by NativeRose, added on 8 May 2006 11:23 PM)


Jason Hanson had returned to his hotel several hours earlier in the day. He felt restless; he had been thinking too much. What was all this talk about
God? He couldn't believe his sixteen-year-old daughter's faith in an invisible God. She knew she was in for a long, hard road, but she wasn't afraid to
die. She thought God would give her the strength to get through it all. If his terminally ill daughter could speak of these things so calmly...well, what
right had he to run out like that? He had acted so much like a child, unlike his teenage daughter. After she had finished her speech about God and how
she wasn't afraid to die, he had left the room without saying a word. He didn't know what to say, but he didn't want Autumn and Lynne to see his doubt.
He knew Autumn would try to explain it to him; she so desperately wanted him to understand her God, but Lynne...well, she would use it to bring him down.
Autumn wanted her God to help him get through this, but Lynne would tell him how weak he was. Autumn would encourage Jason to ask God to help him carry
that burden, and Lynne would tell him that he was the burden. She would shower her recriminations upon him. How could he be expected to stand under such
pressure? He tried to avoid the hospital for that reason alone. It wasn't fair for Lynne to prevent him from supporting his daughter in the only way he
could. No, it wasn't entirely Lynne's fault. Jason certainly wasn't perfect; he had made his share of mistakes. Still...Lynne had been unfaithful to him.
Jason remembered the day of his discovery so clearly; he would never forget it.

Jason Hansen went away on a business trip, and he was gone for four days. Lynne made sure she had his schedule figured out, paying particular attention
to his departure and arrival times. Jason was able to grab an earlier flight out, and he was anxious to get home to his family. During the time away from
his wife and daughter, he realized what his work was doing to them. Still...he couldn't believe what he found when he returned to his home. All of his
excuses and justifications disappeared in the face of... Lynne was with another man! He was in her bed with...Jason couldn't think. He saw the events as
blurry images through his shocked, and therefore sluggish, mind. He couldn't really be seeing this!
"Jason!" Lynne exclaimed, fear and anger clearly visible on her face and in her voice.
"Get out of here!" he roared at the stranger, who looked back at him defiantly. Then...Jason went for his gun. He was standing in the doorway, pointing
the gun at the man's head when...
"No!" Autumn's voice penetrated the fog and burning anger within Jason. How could he shoot this person...no, that freak couldn't be called a person. How
could he shoot that thing as his daughter watched. She was only thirteen when everything took place.

When Jason got the explanation later, Lynne simply said she was looking for love. She didn't think Jason loved her anymore, and she justified her actions
by telling him she was sure he was seeing another woman.
"What evidence do you have against me?" Jason raved. "After all, your actions serve as proof--"
"No," Lynne tried to deny her involvement with that man, but she knew she wouldn't fool him. Jason was right, the proof was there, before his eyes. Lynne
could handle Jason's wrath, but her daughter would be so ashamed! What would Autumn do? How could she ever respect her parents again? Jason left the house,
furiously slamming the door behind him, leaving Lynne to her bitter thoughts.

Jason knew he wasn't the perfect father. Who was perfect anyway? No, he thought, that's just an excuse. He had always been driven by success. He wanted
more things, more money, and he thought that would give him more time with his family. Still...that was just another excuse. The truth was, Jason and Lynne
had never been happy together. They had been too young...but there was the baby to think of. Jason and Lynne had married only for Autumn. Sure, they were
convinced at the time that they loved each other, but they had been only eighteen.

Jason knew Lynne wasn’t entirely to blame. He often worked just to get out of the house. Lynne was always mixed up in alcohol, drowning her problems in a bottle. Still, she often hurled her accusations at him in her drunken rage, and when he would confront her later, she couldn’t remember what happened. She accused him of lying, and suggested that he was looking for a reason to divorce her. Was that when it started? Was that when she went to find that loser, whom he now knew to be named Mike?
Jason didn’t blame Autumn for resenting him. She had every right to do that, he often left her with her mother to escape the pain. He would rush to his office and hide behind papers and files so he wouldn’t’ have to deal with his problems at home. Lynne’s problems got worse when he started working more, which only made him want to leave more often. Soon it got to the point when Jason was never home. He felt such shame for leaving Autumn there, a defenseless child in the midst of her mother’s alcohol...and the anger. In the end, it was Lynne who filed for divorce. She said she wanted her freedom, to do what, he didn’t know. Then, then Jason left. He couldn’t stand to look at Autumn, to see the pain in her eyes. He knew he was partially to blame. Jason hadn’t done a blasted thing to get her out of that mess.

Jason’s thoughts returned to the present. He still stood, looking out the window in his hotel room, pondering the past. Lynne had sure changed. Had it started with Autumn’s cancer? That would be so sad, if it took her child’s terminal illness to get her to clean up her act. Maybe it began after he left, since Lynne was Autumn’s sole support. Sure, Jason sent the child support payments along, but he couldn’t be there to provide emotional support. He didn’t even know if she would want him to. He wouldn’t blame her if she absolutely despised him...but no, he couldn’t think like that. He had seen such excitement in Autumn’s eyes when he appeared in her hospital room earlier that day. Jason decided he wouldn't let Lynne keep him from his daughter.


Chapter 43: Who's Deception?
(by NativeRose, added on 8 May 2006 11:59 PM)


Lynne did some thinking of her own as she watched Autumn sleep. She looked so...at peace.After Autumn's inspired speech, Lynne did some soul searching
of her own. When Jason rushed out of the room, she immediately began to heap recriminations upon him. He expected to be able to just walk into Autumn's
hospital room and pretend that everything was normal? He never made that kind of effort to be there for me, as he did for Autumn. With a start, she wondered
if perhaps she was a little jealous of Autumn. No, that was silly; Autumn was the child...but she seemed so much older than her parents, but at the same
time, fragile just as she had been when she was a baby. That led Lynne to more disturbing thoughts. Who had been the one to care for Autumn's basic needs?
Lynne realized with great regret that she had missed some of the most important events in Autumn's life; Lynne was too busy drinking. Still, I had to do
that because Jason was never home, she mentally argued. No, if she was truly honest, she'd admit that everything was her fault, or at least it had started
with her. Lynne hadn't been big into drinking and drugs when she was pregnant with Autumn. If she was being honest, she'd have to change her statement.
Well...okay, so she had enjoyed those things in high school, but she cut back drastically when she found out she was pregnant. It wasn't really for the
baby, it was because she didn't want to care for a child with medical problems due to the drinking. Then Jason and Lynne got married. She, too, was certain
that they loved each other at that time. She really started drinking after Autumn was born. It was just so stressful to care for a baby. How could she
be expected to do it all alone? Jason was home in the evening, but what did he know about caring for her during the day. She noticed that he was gone more
often, as she continued to drink...more and more. She convinced herself that it was Jason's fault. He was the one who was gone all the time. If Jason had
been home, she wouldn't have had to drink quite so much.
"What kind of logic is that?" she questioned aloud. She was being honest right?...so she had to fact the fact that she was the one to push Jason away, first
with the drinking, and then with Mike. Still, she was able to justify her actions with him as well. She tried to tell herself that Jason didn't care for
her anymore; that was why he was gone all the time. Perhaps there was some truth to that. Maybe he didn’t love her. If so, when did his feelings change? Wasn’t it her fault anyway?...if that was the case.

Autumn had ended up right in the middle of that mess. Jason was the one who cared for her basic needs, and then, as she got older, he just couldn’t handle it alone. He shouldn’t have had to do that on his own, she thought with dismay. I should have been there for Autumn. Instead I was stuck in the bottle, and Jason was left to do everything for and with her.

Lynne didn’t really understand the extent of the problem until Jason left. That wasn’t his fault either. She was the one who filed for divorce. How had she gotten custody of Autumn? Oh yes, she really knew how to put on a mask. She wore it well, and she plastered it to her face whenever those court people asked her questions. She made them believe that she was a great mother. Even the people at the hospital thought she was the best mother on the planet, but they didn’t really know. Lynne didn’t really start to straighten up until after Jason left, but she would still drink quite often. Then she would leave and go to the bar, but she would always find Autumn waiting for her. Autumn had said something on her birthday…about how they didn’t have any money. Why not? She blamed Jason for that as well, but she knew it wasn’t really his fault. Jason always sent his child support payments on time. He wanted to make sure Autumn got what she needed, but Lynne purchased the necessities for their child and nothing more. She wanted as much money as possible so she could drink. She didn’t stop altogether until Autumn’s diagnosis…cancer. It was only then that she felt immense guilt about the way she had lived her life, about the way it affected her daughter...and her marriage. Now she realized that Autumn should have been everything to her, especially after she and Jason divorced. Even then, she should have given Autumn the support she needed, and done something productive with Jason’s money, the financial support meant for Autumn. Lynne stuffed her guilt inside, put her mask on, and pretended that everything was all right. Now Jason was back, and everything came crashing down on her. Jason had always tried so hard to be everything that Lynne could, or would, not. It was no wonder he had exploded like that, Lynne had pushed him to his limits. No wonder he had left her. Still, in that process, he had left Autumn too. It was all Lynne’s fault, all her doing. How could she fix this mess? She knew she couldn’t get the next sixteen years back. She couldn’t try to rebuild her marriage, first because they were divorced, and second, possibly more importantly, because there was not a foundation to build upon. Jason had been just a boy as well, but he stepped into his role as father quickly, whereas Lynne reverted back to childhood. She wanted to believe that everything would be taken care of for her. When she saw how Jason cared for Autumn, she assumed she could go back to her life, to her drink. Whatever would she do now? Her family was broken, and her daughter was dying. How could she change things? Did Lynne have time, was it too late to repair any of it, or would Autumn die before she got that opportunity?


Chapter 44: The Road to Healing
(by NativeRose, added on 9 May 2006 02:12 AM)


When Jason entered Autumn's room, her mother sprang to her feet.
"I'm going to get something to eat, and then I need to talk to the nurse." She hurried out of the room, as Jamison entered.

"But Mom--"
"Autumn," Jason spoke her name softly, and that one word said so much. Apparently there was something important for her father to tell her.
"Jamison? Come with me, I'm sure you need something to eat as well." Lynne grabbed Jamison's arm and propelled him out the door. Lynne's mom was acting
so weird...no, that wasn't quite true. Her mom had been so strange ever since...well, for as long as Autumn could remember. Her dad had been the one to
care for her when her mom was lost in drink. She didn't want to admit it, but she resented her mom. The only reason she stopped drinking was because--
"What are you thinking about?" Jason asked his daughter.
"Oh, just that...never mind. It's nothing." Autumn turned away so her dad couldn't see the tears in her eyes, but it was too late.
"Talk to me, Autumn. You have kept your feelings bottled up inside for so long. Have you told Jamison or your social worker any of this stuff?"
"No, how could they possibly understand? Noone knows how I feel. I guess, like Mom, I have learned how to pretend. She taught me how to do that. I think
you're the only one who gets it...and maybe Mom would if she...she hasn't touched the bottle since I got sick. At least...I don't think she has. You know
they won't let her bring it into the hospital, so I'm really not sure if she's been drinking, but I hope she hasn't..."
"I need to ask for your forgiveness, Autumn."
"Whatever for? Mom was the one who screwed up!"
"I wasn't the parent you needed, especially since your mother...well, you know what I'm saying. I was too busy trying to escape the pain, I wanted to hide,
and I left you all alone there to struggle through each day. I know I was terribly wrong."
"You did what you had to do. You didn't know how to deal with Mom's drinking. I didn't know what to do either. I was just so scared. There were so many
times when I just wanted out, and after you left..."
"I didn't want to leave. You have to understand that, Autumn. I felt so guilty for leaving you alone with her. Still, I didn't want to hurt you anymore.
I often saw the pain and finally the emptiness in your eyes, and I knew I failed. When I wrote to you, I really tried to convey the message that I loved
you."
"What are you talking about?"
"You didn't get any of the letters I sent with your checks each month?"
"No, I never saw the letters...or the money.not that the money really matters to me. What did they say?”
“Oh, I just wanted to remind you that, even though I’m far away, I love you. I tried to tell you that you did nothing wrong, that you didn’t cause the divorce.”
“I wonder why Mom never gave me your letters.”
I don’t know...I just feel like I totally let you down.”
“Dad, I don’t know how much longer I have left. I could die tomorrow, and if that’s the case, I want you to know that I forgive you, and I love you.” Jason couldn’t speak, for fear that the emotion would be evident in his voice. He was saved from having to respond, or so he thought. Jamison ran into the room and practically shouted, “Your mom...she left! She went to...well, she didn’t think I was listening, and perhaps she didn’t intend for anyone to hear, but she went to the, um, well...”
“I think I know where she went. Stay here with Autumn, I’ll be back soon!” Jason ran out of the room, frantically looking for the elevator. He had to get to Lynne before it was too late.


Chapter 45: the Confrontation
(by NativeRose, added on 9 May 2006 02:37 AM)


Jason parked his car outside the run-down building. He really didn't like this part of town, and he remembered pleading with Lynne not to bring Autumn to this area, to leave her at home with a baby-sitter. There were many times when he would cancel meetings to stay home with Autumn, only to find them gone. I don't have time to dwell on these things, he thought, as he walked toward the bar. This used to be Lynne's favorite watering hole. Jason thought about praying, like Autumn had done.
"Listen here God. If all that stuff Autumn says it true, then You'll help us. She says You'll actually hear me, so please let me find Lynne here unharmed. Oh God...you know that Autumn doesn't need to deal with this anymore!" He stopped and reached outthe for the door handle. Jason took a deep breath and opened the door. Sure enough, he heard Lynne's voice right away.
"Jason!" she said, clearly surprised.
"Oh, so you're back," said her best friend, Becky.
"I haven't done this since you left...I mean...well, maybe occasionally, but I just got so stressed. You understand, Jason!" Her words tumbled out of her mouth, and she didn't stop for a breath.
"I understand that you haven't changed, like I thought you had, that's what your daughter is praying for. She is dying, yet she's still praying for you!" All of the bitterness, anger and resentment he had held back for so long finally burst forth.
"You don't deserve her!" he finished.
"Well, you're not a perfect father!" All of Lynne's previous revelations were gone, she was no longer apologetic, and words of hatred and accusations rose from deep within her. "You left us, when Autumn needed you most! You're a self-centered..."
"It's not worth it, Lynne. You don't want to get into any more trouble." Becky tried to restrain her.
"No, I won't let you get away with this, Jason! You left us, and we have struggled..I don't know how I'm going to pay Autumn's medical bills, and it's not like you're helping!"
"Autumn struggled because you spent the money that was meant for her on your evil habits."
"I...I have tried to stop. I truly have, but when you came back...I just couldn't handle anymore..." Lynne rearranged her face into a most effective pout...at least it would have been effective, had Jason not known what was behind that mask.
"Your mask may have fooled everyone else: the doctors, Jamison, the nurses, but you're not going to fool me, and Autumn knows the truth."
"Jamison...what a sweet boy. He has willingly allowed me to use the money from his part-time job to help pay for Autumn's medical..."
"Oh, and what have you really been using it for?" Lynne couldn't hide her guilt.
"I really didn't mean for things to turn out this way, Jason. Please don't tell Autumn what's going on here tonight. I don't want her to worry--"
"Well, you should have thought of that before you got plastered."
"and whatever you do, please don't tell the doctors and nurses, Jason! Oh, and don't tell Jamison! They all know I'm a good mother, and if they know that I slip occasionally, they won't...Hey, where are you going?" Jason could feel his anger rising, and he didn't want to do something he'd regret.
"And don't let Autumn tell either!" Lynne screamed after him. He slammed the door behind him in great disgust, jogged across the parking lot, and jumped into his car. Where should he go? What should he do? He wanted to go back to the hospital, but he wasn't in a proper state of mind to do that. He wanted to go back to his hotel to sort things out...and to get some sleep, but he didn't want Autumn to worry. Okay God, Autumn says You'll hear me, so here I go again. I didn't mean to get so angry, I just can't stand the way she treats Autumn. She is only sixteen, and she's dying...God, I don't know what to do. Just then, Jason heard his phone ring.
"Hey, maybe God does answer prayer," he muttered as he looked at the caller ID.
"Dad?" Autumn's frantic voice greted him before he got a chance to speak.
"Where is Mom? Is she...?"
"Yeah, she is."
"Oh no! this has been too stressful for her! I should have known this would happen, and it's all my fault!"
"No, it's not, Autumn. She just doesn't know any other way to deal with it...I'll be there as soon as possible." He made an instantaneous decision, his emotions could be expressed later. Autumn needed him, and he wouldn't let her down again.


Chapter 46: Jason's Choice
(by NativeRose, added on 9 May 2006 03:02 AM)


When Jason entered Autumn's room, he saw a most shocked Jamison and obviously shaken Autumn.
"She...she seemed like a great person," Jamison said as Jason entered.
"I didn't think she was drinking anymore, but I've been in the hospital for so long, I guess I didn't know for sure. I was just praying that she..." Autumn's voice trailed off when she saw Jason.
"Was it truly horrible?
she asked, studying his face.
"Well, you know your mother. I couldn't get her out of there...but yes, I did find her."
"I knew she was often kind of mixed up, but I figured it was just the stress of the illness and stuff. I never imagined...what should we do now, Mr. Hansen?"
"I don't know--"
"We have to continue to pray for her," Autumn said adamantly.
"You really think God can get her out of this?" Jason asked incredulously.
"Yeah, Dad. God can do anything."
"I...I think I'm ready for this relationship with God, that thing you talked about earlier today."
"Okay, here's how God designed it..." Jamison listened as Autumn outlined God's planned for salvation. Autumn was the strongest person Jamison knew. He couldn't believe that she was in this place, in the hospital waiting to die, praying for her alcoholic mother, and at the same time, leading her father to Christ. She hadn't told Jamison any of this until tonight...well, now he knew what was really going on, and he would be able to support Autumn, his prayers could be more direct. Autumn's body wasn't nearly as broken as her family, but it looked like her dad was trying to get things straightened out.
"I did it! You mean, that's all there is to it, Autumn?" Jason's animated voice and exclaimed words broke into Jamison's disturbed thoughts.
"You did what?"
"I actually accepted Jesus as my Savior! No wonder you're not worried about dying, Autumn. I think I get it! I mean, if you're going to a place like that, with that kind of a God...well, who wouldn't want to do that?"
"There are people who choose not to take the gift Jesus offers." Autumn said quietly. Jason and Jamison instinctively knew she was speaking of her mother, and as if on cue, they moved to each side of her bed and grasped her hands as Lynne entered.

"What's this? It's my turn, Jason!"
"No, Miss Keller. I don't think you're in the right frame of mind to be what Autumn needs right now!" Jamison said as calmly as he could.
"What are you talking about?"
"I know about--"
"No! You didn't tell him! You are a traitor!" Lynne screamed, leveling her hatred and accusations at Jason. He would not tell that it was Autumn who shared that information with Jamison. Jason would shield her from her mother's wrath...and he would pray for God to do the rest. this was the last thing Autumn needed. She should have never been subjected to such treatment, and it had been that way all her life. I played a part in that, too, Jason thought. Then...no, I prayed for God to forgive me, and Autumn says He has forgiven me for all past and future sins. She says I'm free from that sin that held me captive. Autumn was only sixteen years old, and she had lived with an alcoholic mother all her life, and a father who didn't know what to do...and now she had cancer, and she was dying. What a life! Jason was sure glad she had God in her life. There was no way she'd be able to make it without Him. Oh wait, hadn't she said that? Jason was so grateful for God's presence in his own life. If he was to stick around, he would need God's strength to get through the ordeal with Lynne's alcoholism. If he decided to stick around?...No, Jason had already decided he would stay with Autumn until the end, whatever that might be.


Chapter 47: Unexpected Intervention
(by NativeRose, added on 10 May 2006 12:22 AM)


The next morning when Lynne staggered into the hospital, she was ready for her visit with Autumn, Jamison...and Jason? I hope he's not here, she silently
pleaded.
"Lynne," Sariah Golden was walking toward her. Oh wow, I hope she can't tell...oh well, I have an acceptable excuse, Lynne thought.
"Oh, I'm just really tired this morning. You know how it is. The stress of Autumn's illness, paying for her medical bills--" Lynne stopped speaking; a strange expression crossed Sariah's face for only an instant. Then she spoke and it was gone, replaced with her normal smile.
"Yeah, I know how it goes. I've really been praying for Autumn. I know she's a Christian, and I'm so excited for her!" Lynne was sure she heard something different in Sariah's voice this morning. No, I'm just being paranoid; it's just because Jamison knows. Oh wait...has he told anyone? Oh, Sariah was speaking again.
"What did you say? I'm sorry...I was slightly distracted."
"Oh, I just said that a real relationship with God makes a big difference when someone like Autumn is dealing with a terminal illness. I'm so glad; God has really answered our prayers."
"You said our...who else has been pondering this situation with my daughter?"
"Some of the staff members get together when we're not working to pray for patients that we work with. Since we're all on the same floor and work with the same people, the patient confidentiality is not a problem."
"Sariah...what is this? You normally don't spend the extra time talking to me. What's going on here? Are you trying to...prepare me for something?"
"Oh no, it's nothing like that; autumn is fine." Lynne sighed with relief. Apparently noone had told Sariah about the trouble with her...and with Jason.

Autumn, Jamison and Jason congregated in her hospital room. They prayed for Autumn's mother yet again and for Sariah, who was sent to keep her occupied until...well, that would come soon enough. Autumn was anxious. She didn't want anything out of the ordinary to happen. Life was so ahrd already, and she didn't need another disruption. Still...were Sariah and Jason right? Jamison was just as confused as Autumn was. How could he possibly know what to do?

Sariah tried to divert Lynne's attention, but the girl's mother was clearly agitated. Lord, show me what to do, Sariah silently prayed. Then something happened...it could only be a God thing!
"Hey, Lynne! They have some absolutely wonderful waffles in the cafeteria this morning. You really don't want to miss out!" Praise the Lord for Elana, Sariah thought.
"I...I want to see Autumn first."
"She's having some more tests right now. She'll be finished at about the same time you conclude your meal this morning. The waffles are great, you really should join us." Elana continued to talk excitedly, pretending to be mindless of the activity behind her.

Lynne was finally gone, and Sariah felt she could safely pray with Autumn, Jamison and Jason without her mother's knowledge. It was so sad that they had to do this in the first place. Who would have thought?...Sariah couldn't dwell n that, it was time to act.

Deanna Applegate with the state Department of Social Services stood outside Autumn's hospital room, anxiously awaiting her mother's arrival. Elana and Sariah had done well in orchestrating this whole thing. They all knew Autumn's mother would run if she suspected anything. She could have very easily signed Autumn out of the hospital, and taken her to parts unknown...to die.

Lynne rounded a corner and traversed the hallway that led to Autumn's room. She didn't focus on the sights and voices right away, she couldn't think past her blasted headache. She was only aware of the changes when she saw the unfamiliar faces surrounding her.
"Miss Keller, I'm Deanna Applegate with the state DSS," Deanna began.
"What do you want?" Lynne asked tightly.
"We're here to take Autumn into our custody until court dates are set and--"
"No! What's going on here?"
"You know very well what the problem is." Deanna said as calmly as she could.
"Jason! You have done this! What in the blazes--?"
"Miss Keller, please come with us. Things will be easier for you if you don't fight us, you know." Two security guards hauled the distraught mother away.
"Jason, you are such a spiteful--"
"Don't think that's going to help you, Miss Keller!" the security guards directed Lynne to the elevator and to whatever was in store for her.


Chapter 48: Conflict
(by NativeRose, added on 10 May 2006 02:23 AM)


Autumn burst into tears when she saw the security guards take her mother away. She had known what was going to happen, and she was scared, she was not prepared for what was to come.
"You didn't tell me it was going to be like that!" Autumn screamed when Sariah entered the room.
"I mean, I didn't expect her to freak out like that, and you are all standing there so calmly, like you knew she would do that!"
"We have all seen things like that before...well, Sariah, the security guards, and...me, that is."

"Hey, wait a second...not that this has anything to do with anything, but you were Ingrid Lambert's counselor last year, right?" Jamison asked.
"I'm not allowed to disclose that information. However, I do have some questions for you, Autumn and Jason, that is, Mr. Hanson. You're going to have to leave Mr. Perkins."
"Okay, but--"
"This information is strictly confidential, among those of us who are involved."
"Well, Jamison is involved in everything." Autumn and Jason said in unison.
"If you knew what was going on, why didn't you tell anyone?" Deanna asked with a hard edge to her voice.
"I...I didn't know she was drinking. I mean, she seemed kind of mixed up sometimes, like she didn't really know what was going on. I just attributed that to her stress about the treatment and illness..and all that stuff."
"I shouldn't have been so harsh," Deanna said apologetically when she saw the shame in his eyes.
"Perhaps I should have known, but...I just don't know how I could have missed it!"
"You are only sixteen, you're not expected to get it, and your life hasn't been easy either. You're still trying to deal with your own struggles, how can you be expected to take on someone else's problems as well?" Autumn defended her friend.
"Okay, Deanna broke in quickly, "we have other issues to discuss."
"Like what?" Autumn asked fearfully.
"Obviously your mother is not capable of caring for you, so we're going to have to find a foster home as soon as possible."
"Whatever for?"
"It's just until we can find a suitable family member." Deanna said reassuringly, at the same time Jamison muttered, "Don't trust the system, Autumn. It's a mess."
"We're going to do everything possible to keep your friend safe, and she's under enough stress right now. I don't need you to add to it."
"Yes ma'am," Jamison said quickly, looking away from Deanna.
"I have some questions for your mother. Then I'll come back for you, Mr. Hanson."
"Um, yeah..." Jason couldn't focus on what the department something or other was saying. This was his daughter they were talking about. How could they just put her in some stranger's home, and what did Jamison know about what he called the system? Well, he would give them a piece of his mind when they returned to interrogate him. Jason would never forget the sceen that morning with Lynne. He could tell she had been drinking, and the way she looked when they took her away...he could handle it, but Autumn had to see all of that happen. She saw the law enforcement take her mother away to some strange place she knew nothing about. How he wished he had been able to shield Autumn from everything: her alcoholic mother, her broken family, the poverty, cancer and the conflict she had to witness that morning. No wonder they wouldn't give Jason full custody of her...but still, she was to live with some stranger? Would she think he had abandoned her again? Would she live long enough to face whatever came next?


Chapter 49: The Family Battle
(by NativeRose, added on 10 May 2006 03:02 AM)


Lynne sat in a room with that lady from the hospital....Deanna whatever. What was she asking Lynne? She just couldn't think.
"Answer my question, Miss Keller," Deanna prodded.
"What? What did you ask me?"
"You know the results of the breathalyzer, yet you still choose to deny your use of alcohol?"
"So I drink occasionally, what's wrong with that?" Lynne snapped.
"We have sufficient evidence of neglect. Did you use the child support payments to purchase your alcohol?"
"Well, like I said, I only did it occasionally, and when we had extra money--"
"You let your child go without the things she needed so you could buy your precious drink, and you don't see anything wrong with that?" Deanna could hear the bitterness in her own voice, but she just couldn't control it. How could anyone let their child go without something vital just for something so disgusting as alcoholic beverages?
"What are you talking about? I never did that! Don't believe what Jason says, he's just angry because he had to pay the child support--"
"You can't argue with bank statements, Miss Keller."
"That's...that's fraudulent bank activity! I never--"
"and we have the receipts from the liquor store, along with records of Mr. Hanson's child support payments." Deanna continued as if Lynne had not interrupted.
"Denial isn't going to help your case, Miss Keller."
"You are all against me! I can't believe the state can...my daughter is dying, and you people can prevent me from supporting her--"
"That never mattered before, so why should it bother you now?"
"I...um, I..."
"Yes, well, Autumn is no longer your responsibility. You have clearly proven that you are not able to care for your daughter as you should."
"I never...no, that's not true!"
"It's quite difficult to argue with hard evidence, Miss Keller."
"So, where will autumn be?"
"that information will remain undisclosed to you."
"What? Don't I have any rights here...as her parent?"
"No, you gave those up when you decided alcohol was more important than your child, more important than holding your family together."

Jason sat beside his sleeping daughter. She looked at peace, her face was no longer ravaged by the grief. She would be traumatized for life; she would never forget the events of that morning. Jason had the same question as Lynne: Where was Autumn going to be? His concern was not driven by selfish motives, however. He wanted to make sure Autumn would be safe. He needed her to understand that, no matter what happened, she would be loved. Would she be bounced around from one family to another? Who would want a terminally ill child? If the state Department of Social Services was going to place her with a foster family...he didn't want to think about that. Autumn would be lost in the system until her eighteenth birthday...or her death. Jason's thoughts were interrupted when Deanna Appplegate quietly opened the door. She motioned for Jason to follow her. He hesitated for only a moment. What if something happened to Autumn while he was gone? Still, Deanna would most certainly have something important to tell him. Jason reluctantly turned from his daughter and followed Deanna out of the room.

"Mr. Hanson, I have some good news for you. Due to you wife's...um, that is, Miss Keller's amazing lack of cooperation and her activities during the last several years, we have determined that her home is not a safe place for Autumn to reside, especially with Autumn's health problems. We have seen your diligence in following the child support payment schedule, as well as your recent work history, and finally, we have contacted many people who know you from jobs, Autumn's school, etc. Based on what we have found, we think your home is a suitable placement for Autumn. We would put her in the foster care system, but Miss Keller has adamantly refused to take parenting classes and to go through a drug treatment program. To be perfectly candid, Mr. Hanson, with all of the stuff Autumn has been through, I don't want to put her in foster care. We generally like to try to keep families together, but it is clear that Lynne Keller has no intention of cooperating with us and following our guidelines in order to get custody of your daughter. After looking at your records, financial situation and history, we feel confident that you would provide a safe place for Autumn to live. Are you willing to allow us to place her in your home?"
"I was praying for that!"
"However, she'll have to be transferred to a different hospital in the town where you reside."
"No, I won't put her through that. I'll move back here. She needs the familiarity of what has become her...her second home. She already feels an immense sense of loss, I don't want to exaserbate that, and that is surely what will happen if I take her away from the people and things she knows."
"that is quite honorable, and inspires great confidence in me. I'm certain we have found a proper placement for her. However, you understand that we'll still have to monitor everything that is going on for awhile."
"Absolutely! I have nothing to hide."
"Terrific! Oh...and this is what I have been praying for too, Jason! God will certainly honor your decision today, and I'll continue to pray for you."
"You're a believer?" Deanna simply nodded and smiled, for she could not speak. She loved cases like this in which the parents wanted to change things for their children. She didn't see to many like this one, and she praised God for blessing her with the opportunity to work with Jason and Autumn. She was sure they would survive together with God's help...and lots of prayer support.


Chapter 50: Unmasked
(by NativeRose, added on 22 December 2006 02:37 AM)


Lynne sat in the cold, empty room, realizing she was truly alone. She was in a real mess, but it wasn't her fault. If only Jason done those things that made her so miserable...that was what made her decide to divorce him. Oh, if she was going to be honest...none of it was Jason's fault. Or if it was, it was only because she started the whole thing. If someone was able to look into Lynne's mind, they would find a dark place, an intricate web of deception. Yes, Autumn was everything to her, as she had told the nurses. But it wasn't for the reasons they presumed...Lynne's life was out of control, and Autumn had been the only constant. Lynne never considered the fact that Autumn's helplessness was the thing that kept her there. Lynne needed Autumn to fulfil some twisted purpose. Oh, the bottle was her constant companion, that was for sure, but Autumn was her only link to normal life. Sometimes Lynne needed this, but at others, especially since the cancer intruded, Autumn proved to be a stark reminder of the mess Lynne had become. Now Jason was back, and he had become a Christian. Lynne never imagined he would be so foolish, but then she never thought cancer would rip her security from her, she never thought Autumn would get all religious...but was there anything to it? Lots of people desperately looked for God when they knew they were going to die; so what if Autumn found comfort in this God? It didn't mean all that stuff she said about Him was true. Lynne didn't want to believe it; she knew God would never approve of her lifestyle, and she didn't really care. She couldn't give up her alcohol, her life, her only consolation. Everyone thought she was the best mother on the planet, but if they only knew...if they only knew Lynne was pleading for them to save her daughter so Lynne's source of stability wouldn't be taken. Autumn was the practical, the sensible one. She knew how to solve the problems and make everything all right. Somehow, Lynne missed the irony of the whole thing: Lynne's daughter had been the voice of reason, the caregiver, in essence, the mother, when Lynne was drunk and senseless. Autumn had always taken care of Lynne's messes, well, she had done so ever since she got smart enough to figure it out. Even though Autumn was dying, she still took responsibility for her mother. She still tried to help Lynne find the real Source of life. Why couldn't Autumn understand that Lynne didn't want her God? God had allowed her to get pregnant, and He should have known Lynne didn't want to be saddled with a baby. If only Lynne hadn't listened to Jason's blasted morality trip; she should have ignored him and had an abortion. She wouldn't be in this mess! No, if she was really honest, she'd admit that wasn't true. Still, she hadn't wanted Autumn. God hadn't saved Lynne's marriage, and Autumn just made the problems worse. God hadn't helped Lynne after her husband left. He hadn't blessed Lynne with a good job, and she had no money. Then God had let Autumn get cancer, and He wasn't going to let her live. Why would God take Lynne's only source of security? What was His thing with bringing Jamison and Jason back into her life? Jason just complicated things, and Jamison's devotion to and love for Autumn made Lynne feel guilty. All three of them got religion, and then there was Sariah...she had led them all to this God. God just made Lynne's life a mess with all His blasted rules and restrictions. She didn't see the sense in it, and she didn't feel like asking someone to explain it to her. If she did that, she would be admitting failure, and she couldn't relinquish the pride and humble herself before God to ask His servants for help. She couldn't see the healing hands reaching out to her. Those people she left broken for alcohol were the very people who wanted to touch her; they were the ones who wanted her to experience God's grace. Yes, but with God's so-called grace came all His rules.

As Lynne sat in that cold room, finally allowing her thoughts to rule, her family, which now consisted of some hospital staff and Jamison, prayed for her. Scott sat in his wheelchair with a hand on Autumn's covered foot. anela, one of Scott's teachers, stood behind him. Jamison and Jason stood on either side of her bed grasping a hand. Pastor Jack, of Sariah and Jamison's church stood beside Jason with a hand on Autumn's shoulder. Sariah and Abigail, another one of Autumn's favorite nurses, completed the circle. At that moment, they were not praying for healing for Autumn; instead, they prayed for Lynne, who was more broken and ill than Autumn could ever be. Even though Autumn's body was cancer-ridden, she had a hope, and that was in Jesus. She would have a new, glorified body when she died, whether the cancer took her or not. Lynne was spiritually bankrupt, and bitterness, anger and resentment ate at her bones, effectively killing her much more rapidly than Autumn's cancer devoured her body. Unlike Autumn, Lynne did not have this same hope, which was the cause of her sin disease, anyway. Though Autumn was dying, she felt a greater urgency to pray for her mother. When her family and friends gathered to pray with and encourage her, she requested that they all pray for her mother. Jason was amazed; his daughter lived with so much uncertainty, fear and constant physical pain, yet she would devote the rest of her short life to helping her mother. She would continue to point the way to Lynne's only Lifeline, her only hope.


Chapter 51: The Circle
(by NativeRose, added on 22 December 2006 03:11 AM)


After much prayer for Lynne, Autumn finally allowed her family and friends to pray for her.
"Do you want prayer for anything specific?" Pastor Jack asked.
"First, I want to know what's going on in your lives. The fact that I'm stuck in this bed, surrounded by four walls in this hospital doesn't mean I don't care. I always enjoy hearing about the things that are going on, and sharing them only strengthens our bond, makes a tighter circle."
"Well, I have some exciting news, and I don't think all of you have heard it yet. I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord of my life today! I finally made the ultimate decision!" Jason said excitedly. Some people smiled, others cried, and still others rushed to embrace their new brother.
"That's great! Oh, praise God! You'll be better able to support Autumn since you share the strongest bond--Jesus Christ!" Jack exclaimed.
"Yeah, Jesus can make you happy!" Brandon and Amy Rose entered just in time to hear Scott, their adotive child, make this declaration. They were so proud of Scott. As soon as he accepted Jesus as his Savior and best Friend, he started telling others about it. There was nothing quite like seeing the joy of Jesus in a child. A child would never apologize for sharing Jesus; he would only want other people to want Jesus to be their Friend.
"Well, Autumn, we have something splendid to tell you. Actually, it's your father's place, but he asked all of us to join him," Sariah said, giving Jason an encouraging smile.
"Autumn, the reason I asked all of these people to come today is because they have all been praying for you to find a place to belong, so you'll no longer feel displaced without a family. Well, God has blessed me with the privelege of providing what I could not before--a real home for you. I don't ever want you to feel displaced and abandoned again. You'll always have a place to call home, and with God's help, I'll be able to love you more completely than ever before...for as long...as long as you're..." But Jason couldn't finish. Anela squeezed his hand, and Abby put an arm around him. Jason didn't care how he looked or how these people perceived him. He was overcome with emotion; once again, he was consumed by the guilt, the knowledge that he hadn't been the father Autumn needed until she got sick. As if reading Jason's mind, Autumn said, "That's all over. God has forgiven you, I don't hold anything against you, and there are no regrets when God's grace covers everything. I'm not afraid to die...I mean, I'm afraid of how it might happen. Will I be in pain? But I'm not afraid of death, and I pray you'll trust God's promises; rest in knowing that death won't separate us forever. I'll see you in heaven, and you'll see a new body, one not wasted by cancer." This pronouncement caused the tears to burst forth. Somehow, Jason knew these people wouldn't criticize him for displaying so-called weakness. Still, he was surprised when Abby embraced him, Brandon assured him it was perfectly acceptable for a man to cry, and Pastor Jack confirmed Autumn's statement about God's grace. This is just amazing, Jason thought. All these people accepted Jason just as he was, failures, weakness, shame and everything else. They all loved Autumn the way God did, and they extended this same love to him. They encouraged him to be what he so desired for Autumn and not to look back. Jason didn't expect his responsibility for Autumn to be easy, but he knew all these people would support him, they would continue to love Autumn, and they would all provide what they had for her. Each person brought something special to help complete the circle. Scott's excitement about Jesus, Jason's commitment, Abby and Sariah's healing hands, Brandon and Amy's unshakable faith, Anela's leadership abilities, Pastor Jack's wisdom and Jamison's obvious love would all combine to form the support system Autumn needed, with God at the center of it all.


Chapter 52: The Call
(by NativeRose, added on 2 July 2007 02:30 AM)


Jason was startled when he heard the phone ring. He rolled over in bed and glanced at the clock. Through the fog in his brain and his bleary eyes, he saw that it was 6:00 in the morning. Who would be calling him now? He suddenly sat up and grabbed the phone. What if it was Autumn? What if she needed him?
"Jason?" The voice was not that of his precious child; it was Lynn.
"Yeah," he said flatly.
"Jason, I'm not sure how to..." Her voice trailed off, and Jason wasn't sure what he heard in her voice. Maybe it was helplessness, pleading.
"Is something wrong?" Would this blasted compassion for Lynn always make him want to rescue her? He had to let her fall...and fall hard so she might finally learn her lesson.
"I can't believe how I have screwed up!" she said, beginning to cry. Was this an act? It couldn't be; she sounded sincere, maybe even repentent.
"What prompted this?"
"I just...I just started thinking about Autumn and how little time she has left. I think...we need to work together to get her...and us...through this."
"Are you serious?" Jason asked, incredulous. She couldn't be...she had never worried about that before. Autumn had always been the one to clean up her messes, and now she was willing to stick it out until the end...with Jason's help?
"I am serious, Jason. I mean, Autumn shouldn't have to deal with this on her own or with one parent."
"Well, you've never been there before. Did it take her impending death to make you see what crap you have put us through?" He couldn't believe the harsh tone in his own voice. Apparently God was still working in him. However, he was immediately ashamed because of his reaction to Lynn. What should he do?

"Where, are you right now, Lynn?"
"I'm still in town."
"Let's meet somewhere so we can talk about this."
"We should go to the hospital."
"Not on your life, lady! There is no way I'll discuss this there and put Autumn in the middle of it. She has enough to worry about without dealing with our problems." Jason heard Lynn sigh, and she finally said, "Meet me at the Village Inn at 7:30?"
"Fine," he said, feeling troubled about the whole thing.

Jason arrived at the restaurant first; that was a good thing, as he would have time to pray before Lynn got there. Please, Lord, show me what to do. Give me the words to say...
"What are you doing?" Lynn's voice suddenly broken into his earnest prayer.
"Oh, just praying."
"Yeah, whatever. Jason, sometimes I'm just overwhelmed by my mistakes. I can't believe how I've messed up your life as well as Autumn's. I want to try again." Jason's heart leaped; he would never tell, but he still loved Lynn, despite what she had done. It didn't mean he wasn't angry, hurt and sad, but he still cared for her and was concerned about her welfare. He had often wondered what mess she was in and if she'd ever find a way out. Before he found God, he was able to push his concerns away, justifying this with what she had done. Now, God was changing him, and he was filled with compassionate for the woman he still loved. Was he crazy? How could he love her after all this? Would she ever change?
"Jason?" she said softly, and he realized he had missed something.
"Sorry, I was just deep in thought."
"Anyway, we should try again. I mean, I know that so many of the things that happened were entirely my fault."
"Lynne, I don't know if I'll ever be able to completely trust you again," Jason answered honestly, "with everything that has happened. I mean, I'm working on forgiving you, but I can't put Autumn, or me, for that matter, in that place again."
"Well, I guess I'll just have to show you that I have changed."


Chapter 53: The Change
(by NativeRose, added on 2 July 2007 03:04 AM)


As the weeks progressed, Jason and Autumn saw that Lynne was changing things. Maybe things would really be different this time. Still, she had done this sort of thing before. But if she was sincere, how could they turn her away? Jason and his daughter just didn't know what to do, and Jason didn't want Autumn to land in the middle again. That was what had caused so much of Autumn's pain throughout her life. Jason heard the door open behind him, and he saw Lynne enter the hospital room. She had been faithfully visiting Autumn thus far. How long would it last? It had been six weeks since her promise to Jason. Maybe things were really changing. Jason wondered if Lynne was still drinking. If she was, she was sure hiding it well. Maybe, just maybe, things were changing after all, and perhaps it was permanent. Jason saw the smile light Autumn's pale face when her mom walked in the door.
"Hi Mom," she whispered from the bed.
"What's going on today?" Lynne asked. this conversation mirrored those of the last month-and-a-half. At least Lynne was trying. But then it took an interesting turn.
"I need to talk to your father for a second, but we'll be back shortly," Lynne promised. Jason wondered what she could possibly want.
"We're managing this hurtle," Lynne said, as they sat in the hospital cafeteria. "Do you think we could ever live together?"
"Like I said before, I don't know if I'll ever be able to trust you again. Things are going well so far, but I...I just don't know, Lynne."
"Please, please...give me another chance!" she pleaded, the tears glistening in her eyes.
"Let me pray about it."
"Well, okay, but don't make me wait for long...Please, Jason."
Wow, what was this? What had happened to Lynne for her to take this turn? Now Jason was sure it was real. Weell, maybe he wasn't one hundred percent certain, but the change was sure convincing.

After a month of deliberation and prayer, Jason decided they should give it a try.
As Jason and Lynne walked into Autumn's hospital room together, Autumn started with, "What's going on?" Surely this was a surprise to her.
"We have some news for you," Lynne began, and then she looked uncertainly at Jason. Oh, please don't change your mind, she silently pleaded.
"Your mom and I are back together again. We're going to try living together..."
"Oh my gosh!" Autumn nearly screamed, "Are you serious?"
"Yes," Lynne said, but Jason and Autumn noticed her quivering voice.
"Oh wow, this is what I have been praying for!" Autumn exulted. Then her face formed a question mark. "How will this affect custody?"
"Oh, don't worry about that," Jason said, reaching for Lynne's hand. "this is a trial, and I'm praying it works."
However, the joyous occasion was only temporarily, and their hopes were splintered by one supposedly harmless event.


Chapter 54: The Fragile Chain
(by NativeRose, added on 2 July 2007 03:24 AM)


One day, about nine months after Lynne's change took place, Jason noticed a difference in her. Things had been going well, and they were gradually building a mutual trust. He was actually hopeful that things could continue this way. He instinctively knew that was not to be on this particular day. Lynne wouldn't look at either Jason or Autumn. Her eyes seemed to wander to a point above her family members' heads. Lynne's voice seemed cold, and her words were distant. She pretended that nothing was wrong, but Autumn, the child with endless eyes saws through the facade right away.
"Mom, what's wrong?" Autumn asked directly.
"Oh, nothing. Everything is fine." She tried to make it sound light, but Autumn saw through that, too.
"No, something is seriously wrong. What is it?"
"Everything is fine, but I do have to go."
Lynne didn't visit for the next week, and Autumn and Jason knew something was terribly wrong. They were both afraid it was the thing that originally split the family. When she finally came, Autumn wasted no time with pleasantries.
"Why were you gone for so long?" she asked pointedly.
"Oh, I've just been busy."
"Things were picking up at the job you don't have?" Jason asked in a sarcastic tone.
"What are you saying? Are you accusing me falsely again?" Lynne sounded guilty to Jason. He didn't want to pursue this issue in front of Autumn, but Lynne made that completely irrelevant.
j"You two have no right to do this to me."
"Are you having another affair?" Autumn asked. Maybe she was just a little more honest than the rest.
"Of course not," Lynne began, but she wouldn't meet Autumn's gaze. That's a sure sign, Jason thought. He would find out for sure.
"I have to go," Lynne said abruptly. When she was out of sight, Jason followed her. She got into her car and drove to the north side of town. This was a seedy area, where most of the crime took place. Whatever was she doing? Lynne parked in front of a run-down apartment building. Jason saw a man meet her at the door. Through a slit in the window shades, he saw them embracing and kissing passionately. They have no shame! They're not even trying to conceal their activities.
Jason wanted to kill them both, so he drove off into the night. He didn't want to do something foolish, and it was his human nature that was taking over. He needed to get alone, where he could hear the still, small voice. God would have to help him heal from this latest blow from the woman who was supposed to love him.

"She's with another man," Autumn stated flatly when Jason walked into her hospital room the next morning. "I just knew it! Dad, shy does she do this?" Jason hadn't seen her fall apart so thoroughly since the security guards took her mother away when he was granted full custody.
"I really don't know, Autumn." Jason said softly. She was right to question Lynne's actions. She was not trustworthy. Hadn't he known that before? Why had he fallen into her trap again? Maybe he deserved this for his foolishness. Jason didn't hear the door open or the footsteps. He was so deep in thought, and the gentle pressure on his shoulder startled him. He looked into Sariah Golden's face, so filled with compassion, understanding and...love? No way, it couldn't be. What kind of crazy world was this? That had to be something different he detected in Sariah's eyes.
"I am so sorry, Jason." she said softly, her voice so filled with concern.
"You didn't do anything."
"I know, but that type of thing hurts so much. I'm sorry you're going through this. My husband did the same, and I know how much it hurts. I'm always here when you need to talk."
"thank you, Sariah," Jason said quickly. Then he rushed out of the room, so neither woman could see his tears. He knew neither one would ridicule him, but he still didn't want to show such emotion. Whatever would he do now? He would never fall for that again. He held his anger tightly as a protective shield. In a sense, he wanted, he didn't want to care about Lynne. She made this mess, and he wouldn't rescue her again. He decided that he hated Lynne and never wanted to see her again. Maybe she would leave Autumn alone, so they would never have to deal with her and her lies again.


Chapter 55: Saving Sariah
(by NativeRose, added on 2 July 2007 03:35 AM)


Sariah proved to be exactly what Jason needed to get through the worst of his pain over the same betrayal yet again. She was strong and gentle, sincere and sensetive. She was not judgmental at all, and she was so compassionate. Jason found himself comparing Sariah to Lynne. If he had met Sariah first, he surely wouldn't be in this mess. As Sariah helped Jason and Autumn over the next few months, Jason began to notice other personality traits. Sariah could be funny as well as caring. He suddenly realized how beautiful Sariah was. Oh, others might look at Sariah and see a very plain person, and they'd say she was nothing compared to Lynne's physical beauty. Jason slowly realized that he was attracted to Sariah, not because of her physical characteristics, but because of her inner beauty. She bubbled with life, and she overflowed with love for those she served. Jason was extremely hesitant to voice his developing feelings, for fear of yet more betrayal. He was certain she would never do such a thing, but he couldn't make his mind and heart to connect. He didn't want to open himself up to another and let her take advantage of him. Sariah's sweet face glowed with an intensity and true joy that expressed her love for God. She was a true servant, and she wasn't ashamed of her Savior. She was there when Jason was shattered once again. She was his constant support when he felt like a lost child and just happened to show it. Her obvious love and concern for Jason began to fill the emptiness Lynne had left. Jason wasn't sure if he would have made it without Sariah there to comfort him, and he was thankful that God had blessed him with such an amazing friend.


Chapter 56: Finale
(by NativeRose, added on 2 July 2007 11:39 PM)


"Dad?" Autumn's voice brought Jason back to reality. He had been watching Sariah as she moved about Autumn's room. He turned from the door, where he had watched Sariah leave, back to his daughter.
"You're attracted to her. I know it's true. I see it every time she's in the room."
"Well....I..."
"If you had met and married her first, things would be so different." Jason was surprised that Autumn's thoughts mirrored his own. If only he had met Sariah first...
"So go ask her!" Autumn was saying.
"What? I'm sorry...I didn't hear what you said." Autumn laughed.
"I said, you know she feels the same, so don't be afraid of rejection...go ask her!"
"But...I can't believe we're having this discussion."
"Oh, come on, if I was up to it, I'd play matchmaker--"
"Like Fiddler?"
"Yeah, and..." Her voice trailed off as she heard Sariah enter the room.
"They said your food should be here shortly, Autumn...oh, did I interrupt something?" The expression on Jason's face was inscrutible, but Autumn couldn't contain her mirth.
"All right," Sariah said, feigning anger, "what is it?" Autumn pointed at her dad.
"You might just have to tell me, Autumn, we've rendered him speechless!" Sariah and Autumn laughed as Jason actually blushed!
"Oh, you women get me into so much trouble!" Jason said, pretending to reciprocate Sariah's anger. Then they both grew serious. Sariah leaned toward Jason and whispered loudly enough for Autumn to hear, "The answer is yes." Jason stood, mouth agape, staring at Sariah in apparent wonder. Autumn and Sariah were no longer laughing, but their faces reflected the same joy in Jason's heart.
"Oh, this is just so exciting! You two finally did something about your feelings!"
"Well, don't start planning the baby shower yet, Miss Autumn," Sariah said, acting put out.
"Yes, ma'am...I mean...nurse."
Such friendly banter would always be remembered because of what happened next.


Chapter 57: The Real Deal
(by NativeRose, added on 3 July 2007 12:01 AM)


Lynne had so many faces: the church-going face, the hospital expression, the motherly one. But no one knew who she really was...no one except Autumn and Jason. Dariah and Jamison were slowly accepting that she was a devil inside.
" I don't mean to..." Jamison began, "Well, has your mom always been like that? I mean, she sure had me fooled!"
"Count me in," Sariah said solemnly. "She always seemed so concerned and kind."
"Autumn, why do you think your mom let me stay with her?"
"It made her look good to all the neighbors and people at church. She needs praise more than anything else. It's not real. Do you wonder why she was always gone and you had to fend for yourself?" Autumn heard the bitterness that crept into her voice, but she didn't care. Her mom had betrayed her so many times. She had broken ason's heart again, and now her best friend was seeing what a monster her mom really was.
"I guess...I never really thought about it. I mean, I've always had to stand on my own. Survival was nothing new. Some of the stuff she did was weird, but I figured it was just because she was stressed all the time. I mean, it wasn't like my family, where all I had to do was walk in the door, and they'd start throwing stuff at me."
"She always made sure she was somewhat together before she saw you. That was just one of the many masks...most people don't see the real person. They all think she's just wonderful...until they really get to know her and trust her. Then they see what she does, who she is." Autumn couldn't believe it! Hot tears rained down her face, and her heart was ablaze with the fire that consumed her. When had she become so angry with her mom? Hadn't she prayed for God to get a hold of her. She saw the questions on the faces of her family and friends, but she couldn't tell them what happened last night.


Chapter 58: A Piece of Her
(by NativeRose, added on 3 July 2007 12:29 AM)


Although Autumn couldn't speak the words aloud, her mind wouldn't stop replaying the nightmarish movie over and over again, as if she couldn't remember. She had been doing well, and she was stable enough to go home. Jason had been remodeling his apartment to make it wheelchair accessible for Autumn, and she was pleasantly surprised when she saw her new digs. Then, last night...
Autumn was reading her Bible, when she heard a car in the driveway. She looked out to see her mother emerge. Before Autumn had time to react, Lynne had kicked open the door with so much force that it flew off its hinges and sailed into the kitchen. A blow to Autumn's head left her unconscious. Shen she regained consciousness, she realized she was gagged and tied securely to...what? No...she wouldn't think about it anymore! She was back at the hospital with her friends and family. She would leave the memories behind. All she had told her family was that she fell and hit her head. What would happen if she told them the truth?
"Autumn, what's wrong?" That was Jamison's voice combined with his gentle touch.
"Nothing! I'm too ashamed to talk about...oh, I just can't take it anymore!" she exploded.
"What is it? You don't have to be ashamed, no matter what happened." It was the compassion in Sariah's voice that made Autumn come undone.
"You know how...how I told you...about the...the..." she sobbed, and couldn't continue right away. Four concerned faces looked back at her. There were her best friend and dad, along with her two favorite nurses. Jamison still grasped one hand, and Abby, the nurse, took the other. Sariah rubbed her back and spoke soothingly to her, and Jason was a big question mark. The poor man just didn't know what to do. "I didn't really fall and hit my head on the linolium floor. That's not why I have the concussion. Mom came last night with some guy...maybe the one she's dating...I don't know. Anyway, they came in, and he hit me over the head with something, and I lost consciousness. When I was once again aware of my surroundings, I found that I was gagged and tied to a...a...bed frame!"
"What?" All four people exclaimed in unison.
"Where?" Jason asked.
"I'm really not sure. I had a massive headache, and it took me forever to figure out where I was, what was going on, and even who I was. I saw the door suddenly open, and the look in his eyes..." She shivered just thinking about it. She could no longer see and hear her friends surrounding her; they were blocked out by his look of triumph and evil laughter.
"What happened after the door opened?" Jason gently prodded.
"That man...the one who came into the the house and dragged me out...he stood over me, and...well, I couldn't call for help, and my struggles to get free were futile. I'm just to darn weak, and...he must have known! He...that man...he had his three hours of fun," she finished in a tremulous whisper.
"What? Are you saying--" Jason railed, but Sariah put a hand on his arm, as if to tell him to calm down.
"Get an exam going, call child protection services and crisis prevention, and get Lynne on the phone for the interrogation of her life!" Abby called out demands in an authoritative tone. Things began happening so fast, and Autumn was confused, disoriented. What were they going to think of her now? A piece of her had been taken as that man completely violated her. He knew what he was doing; he relished it; he was using her gift against her. Instead of seeing her femininity as a gift from God as she did before, she was now disgusted when she looked in the mirror. She felt so disgusting, dirty and ashamed. How could they all still see her as a person?
The fog began to clear, and she saw the same people, but they weren't looking worried now. What had she done? She should have just stayed silent. They didn't have to know. But now it was too late...Autumn shouldn't have said anything at all! It just added to the shame.
Jamison's hand tightened around hers, Jason still looked like he wanted to kill someone, and tears glistened in Sariah's eyes, but her expression spoke of confidence.
"I can't speak for the others," Sariah began, "but none of this changes the way I feel about you, Autumn. I love you, and nothing, absolutely nothing, can change that!" The three others echoed her sentiments as a doctor rushed in. Autumn was too tired to explain again, she didn't want an exam...she just wanted to sleep, to dream of something different, not her very real nightmare.


Chapter 59: No Stones Cast
(by NativeRose, added on 3 July 2007 01:12 AM)


After all the doctors, counselors and case workers left, Jason, Abby, Jamison and Sariah gathered around their fragile sister in the Lord and carried her to Jesus, united as one. When she finally fell asleep, the others left and found an empty corner, where they frantically whispered to one another.
"Let's go into my office," Sariah suggested. When they were all safely inside, she could no longer stop the tears.
"Look at what that child has been through!" Jason was torn: he wanted to make that man pay for what he had done to Jason's baby girl, but at the same time, he wanted to comfort the sweet, sensetive Sariah, the woman he was falling for.
"I just can't believe this," Jamison murmured, with a blank expression. Now that Abby was not required to act, she too, allowed herself to cry.
"Did she say that person was with her mother? I just can't understand what would make a person do this!" she raged.
"Oh, my heart just breaks for her," Sariah whispered. Abby collected herself and sat up straight as she said, "We need to get the police in on this."
Jason stared straight ahead, but inside, he was seething.
"He'll be sorry he ever touched my little girl. I'm going to find him and..."
"Count me in!" Jamison said, equally angry.
"Stop!" The command was issued softly, but firmly. Sariah continued, "We can't act out in anger. That will only get us in trouble. We're all emotionally charged right now, and I think we need to find various places where we can regroup before we meet here. We need to be able to support Autumn through this, but we can't be strong without first spending some time with God."
"You're right," Jason said quietly, as the others stood to leave.

Jamison went to the hospital cafeteria to get a milkshake. Chocolate was supposed to be a Band-Aid; he knew that wasn't true, but he wanted it anyway. The thoughts floated around his brain, like the straw amidst the chocolate cream. How could Autumn possibly think they would judge her? The circumstances she found herself in certainly were not her fault. Jamison would do anything he could to show Autumn that he still loved her just the same, perhaps even more so.

Abby went to the hospital chapel. She was glad it was empty on this bleak afternoon. Thunder rolled outside, and the trees swayed in the wind. A storm is coming, she thought, knowing the storm in nature was nothing compared to the one in her heart and the hearts of all who cared for Autumn.
"Lord, how could You let this happen? I have no idea what You're doing here, but God...oh God, help her through the pain!" Abby cried out in anguish. She took comfort in the fact that, although God wasn't visible, He was right there with her. He was speaking comfort to Sariah, Jamison, Jason and herself. He was holding His broken child, Autumn, and whispering His assurances of love to her heart. Abby knew all this was true, so why did she still feel so alone? If she felt that way...she couldn't imagine how Autumn was feeling.

Jason sprinted through the parking lot to his car. He jumped in and drove away from the hospital, to the north side of town. He prayed as he went, asking God to give him wisdom, to guide his words and steps. He wanted to kill that monster, but he knew that wasn't what God would want. He drove to that run-down building, sure that was where he would find Lynne and that evil piece of...
Jason pounded on the door continuously. He heard the windows rattle as he banged away.
"Shut up, you..." That was followed by a string of expletives that wouldn't be fit for a worm. Finally, Lynne flung the door open, and it banged off the door jamb with a resounding crash. She swore again as she dropped the ever-present beer bottle, which shattered at Jason's feet.
"Who are you?" she asked, then didn't give him time to answer. "Clean up this mess!" she screamed.
"So," Jason began slowly, trying to control his own rising anger, "where is the coward who would destroy my daughter, whatever the cancer has left behind?"
The fog in Lynne's mind began to discipate, and she realized what was going on.
"Jason?" she slurred.
"Yeah, so answer my question!" he boomed. The racket brought a man stumbling from the bedroom.
"What's--" he started to ask.
"You tell me what's going on!" Jason pushed past Lynne and charged into that filthy hole she called her home. The man looked at him quizically for a second, then he seemed to understand that this wasn't just a friendly jaunt through his apartment.
"So...um?" he slurred, as Jason towered above him.
"Are you the one?" Jason said, pointing his index finger into the man's face.
"The what?"
"You're the evil monster who touched my daughter?"
Lynne couldn't believe what was happening. There were any number of guys who could have done anything to Autumn...oh, what was Jason rambling on about now?
"What?" she asked.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about! She saw you and a man...before she was raped, Lynne. You can be sure that we'll get a restraining order against you and all your druggie friends...and as for you, sir, you won't get away with this! I know exactly who you are, and by the end of the night, all the police in Apple Valley will, too. Have fun in jail!" Jason raced out the door, dodging bullets from the man's gun as he went.

Sariah stayed in her office with the lights off. She folded her arms upon the desk and rested her head on them. She tried to quiet her thoughts, so God could speak for her to hear. "Oh, God!" she whispered. "Why didn't You protect her? You could have! You surely could have!" God seemed oddly silent, and she just had to remember that He was not silent. His heart was breaking for His daughter, too, but He had allowed this evil for a reason. Sometimes Sariah just didn't understand God, and that was when she had to trust Him more than ever. "I love her as if she was my own. I'd give my life to take on her pain, both physical and emotional. Lord, let me be as a healing balm...let me be the mother she never had...restore her, Lord." She ceased praying aloud when she saw Jason peeking in through the window. "Help me speak comfort to him, too." she whispered, as she went to open the door.


Chapter 60: lynn's realization.
(by ian mcnamara, added on 12 November 2007 11:57 AM)


lynn keller sat in the crummy apartment with the man she now lived with. James heart was a vilant alcahollic and drug adickt and unknown to lynn had been charged with rape a year before he met her. Suddenly james came in to the room.

"Hay lynn, how you doing?" lynn saw a glint in his eye.

"Hi what is up you look differint."

"Your daughter well she was gagging for it last night. When you kicked the door open and left me their i went in and bashed her head knocked her unconshass and when she awoke well you can guess what i did. She is a right little tramp and i hope this experience has recked her." lynn who was sober for once could not be sure if she was hering write the months of drinking had clouded jer judgement. "You said you wheir only going to talk to autum to try and get forgivness from her for me."
"Well had you fooled didan't it because i love you and knew if i did that i would loose you but now i decided to admit it to you as you are a horrable woman all the muttering in your sleep and when you think i can't here about wanting to change and turn to god. It's all bull and you know it lynn."

"How could you do that to my daughter i knew that going back to jason was the best thing but o no as usual i put my stupid drink and my stupid feelings first and i find out it was you that raped autum."

To jame's suprise lynn left the house.


Chapter 61: lynn's deseption and james heart's arest.
(by ian mcnamara, added on 12 November 2007 12:10 PM)


Un be known to james lynn had recorded the whole conversation as she still even in her drunken stupers thought of jason and autum and what this was doing to them. She had heard local gossip that jason and surria wheir attrackted to each other now she had been sober for the last couple of days she was beginning to realize that she wanted god in her life if jason had turned why could she not? As she pulled up out side the plece station she was angry she marched and asked to see the inspector dealing with automs rape case. when she was in his office she handed him the tape. when the inspector played it he was shocked and horrefied. after hering the tape with the inspector lynn did a detailed taped statement admitting to all her falts and she said that she wanted this man behind bars. the inspector who had known lynn since child hood could not beleave the person she had turned in to. He knew how ever that deep in side this woman's heart was pain and although she was trying to run from it it was their deep deep down. Lynn went to the apartment with the inspector and packed her stuff to leave. While she was packing james came home and told her to get out.

"don't wurry i am going and by the way their is a visitor in the hall."
as james went in to the front room two plese men took him down and cuffed him and led him out of the apartment to spend the rest of his life in jail."


Chapter 62: lynn's deseption and james heart's arest.
(by ian mcnamara, added on 12 November 2007 12:10 PM)


Un be known to james lynn had recorded the whole conversation as she still even in her drunken stupers thought of jason and autum and what this was doing to them. She had heard local gossip that jason and surria wheir attrackted to each other now she had been sober for the last couple of days she was beginning to realize that she wanted god in her life if jason had turned why could she not? As she pulled up out side the plece station she was angry she marched and asked to see the inspector dealing with automs rape case. when she was in his office she handed him the tape. when the inspector played it he was shocked and horrefied. after hering the tape with the inspector lynn did a detailed taped statement admitting to all her falts and she said that she wanted this man behind bars. the inspector who had known lynn since child hood could not beleave the person she had turned in to. He knew how ever that deep in side this woman's heart was pain and although she was trying to run from it it was their deep deep down. Lynn went to the apartment with the inspector and packed her stuff to leave. While she was packing james came home and told her to get out.

"don't wurry i am going and by the way their is a visitor in the hall."
as james went in to the front room two plese men took him down and cuffed him and led him out of the apartment to spend the rest of his life in jail."


Chapter 63: autums supprise.
(by ian mcnamara, added on 12 November 2007 12:19 PM)


nine months after james hearts arest autum was sleeping in her hosbital bed when suddenly she was shaken awake it was pastter jack.

"Autum hi darling how you doing?" autum replyd that she was fine and that now that james was jailed she felt better. she also confided to the pastter that although she loved serya and felt happy with her and her dad's romance she could not help missing her mom and still prayed for her. Pastter jack explaned to autum that he went to the local rehab centre to meat up with one of his pationts and he had seen lynn their. "What?" jak went on to explain that lynn had been their ever since the night of james hearts arest and she was being relesed that very day. he also told autom that lynn had accepted god.

autum did not know what to say as she still loved her mother and knew deep in lynns batterd sole that she still loved autum and wanted help.


Chapter 64: a shock for autum.
(by ian mcnamara, added on 12 November 2007 12:31 PM)


Later that afternoon a figure walked in to autums hosbital room. As autum looked at the figure she noticed that the woman looked fomilyer. As the figure came and sat by her bed autum thought it looked like her mom but no it could not be she had left autum to carry on her drinking habbit. The figure came and sat by the bed not really knowing if they should be their.As the figure sat by autums bed she came more in to the light studying the woman closely she saw that the woman looked fomiliyerly like her mom but the apearince was not her moms.

Lynn had lost a lot of wait and was dressed in blue jeans and a new shirt. She sat by autums bed not knowing what to say. What should i do she thought my own daughter is that use to seeing me drunk she does not recocnise me.

"Sorry lord i want to repent, i have made a lot of mistakes but i don't know how to make it right, i am in this room but now i am here i do not know how to handle any of this." when autom heard the voice she knew beyond any doubt that it was lynn.

"What are you doing here? mom is it really you?" lynn took autums hand in hers.

"Yes darling it is me! i have decided i want to learn about god, i got that mad man locked in jail for what he did to you it was me that alerted the plece and got him arested , i love you autum and i love your dad to.


Chapter 65: jason and soriya.
(by ian mcnamara, added on 12 November 2007 12:58 PM)


jason and soriya sat in the office talking.

although they really loved each other sereya did not want to keep this relation ship going with jason and jason was sill confused with his feelings for lynn. They decided that it was best to just be friends as none of them really wanted a relationship to reck their friendship. when they went to seey autom they heard praying comming from autums room. Jason left suria at the door to autums room and sureya went to check on her other pationts. When jason enterd the room he saw a small surcle around autums bed side. Suddenly he heard a fomilyer voice praying.

"No way it can't be." autom looked tords the door and saw her dad. When jason studied his daughter's face he could see that their was a really happy look on her face. On her left was jamason and to his suprise on automs other side sat lynn but jason could not recognise her. She looked like she had when they had met before all the drinking started and to his suprise she was leading the preyer.

"Please lord help me to understand you, help me to keep up this change that has come up on me. help me to be their for the people who need me most and most of all let us see am mirricle for our sister autum but if you have to take her lord take her peasfully." jason was shocked and went to stand in the circle. "Lynn what are you doing? you don't like this god stuff." lynn then explaind to jason about the rape of autum and how it was she that had got james put in jail. Jason was supprised how autum and her mom wheir getting on and how autum was so trusting of her. jamason also seemed tobeleave that lynn was senseer. over the next few weeks and months they wheir to b shown just how senceer lynn accually was. looking at her now jason could see the masg was of and she was openly admitting to her falts and her feelings wheir comming out in a rush of teers. Suddenly sureya and abby came in and could not beleave their eyes when they saw autom lynn jason and jamason in a tight hug and to their supprise they wheir all praying. What was also supprising to the two nurses lynn was openly taking responsability for her actions. suddenly their was a warmth in the room and they knew that lynn ahad finnaly seen her self for the monster she had become and looking at her now every one could see that this was not a joke and that she was senseer. Jason and serea beemed at eachother and then they took autom out of the room in her wheelchair and explaned about their dissission to split. Autom understood and told them that she could see it happening as they wheir grate friends and although they loved eachother she could see that the romance between them had been more of a friendship than proper love. Sureya walked over to lynn and told her in no uncerton terms that she better be trueful this time then jamason and jason and finaly autom said their peace. lynn nodded and with a smile on her face left the room to meat with her counsler


Chapter 66: Aftermath
(by NativeRose, added on 12 November 2007 11:23 PM)


When Sariah entered Autumn's room, her heart just broke for the girl. Autumn's face was aglow with the joy of her mother's relationship with Christ. It was five months since Lynne's encounter with grace, and Sariah could definitely see the difference. She knew that Jason and Lynne might not be able to rebuild their relationship and marriage, and if they tried, it could take years. Sariah felt a sense of loss with the end of her romantic relationship with Jason, but she knew they did the right thing. God would give her the wisdom to know how to handle this, and then she remembered the gift in the form of a man named Josiah.

Sariah's mind went from the new certified nurse's aide to the youg girl before her. Sariah saw Autumn's peaceful smile and regretted the fact that she had to do something that could cause Autumn to lose that external happiness for a short time. She had to catheterize Autumn, and she knew how painful that could be!
"Oh no," Autumn groaned, "I know what's coming."
"I wish I didn't have to do this...no wonder the big, bad nurses are so scary to people."
"Well, let's get this over with."
"Yes, and then we can get to the fun stuff. Try to think about something else."
"So, are you and Josiah officially an item?"
"Well...sort of." Autumn laughed at Sariah's response; she had never seen the nurse blush before.
"I can see that I'll have to tell him about our little conversation here today," she said in a teasing tone.
"Hey, be nice to me. Remember, I'm the one who handles the needles and catheters."
"Oh yeah, I'm so scared...Oh, Sariah, you make this experience as enjoyable as it can be. I like the fact that I can tease you, and you give it right back. Our relationship is so cool like that; I mean, we can have fun together, but I know you'll help me through anything."
"Hey, people in the Lord's family need to stick together."
"That's for sure..." Josiah knocked on the door, and it was just in time, for Sariah had just rearranged Autumn's gown so she was completely covered.
"Hi, Autumn. You asked for some more water." Josiah put the pitcher on her overbed table and smiled self-consciously at Sariah. This was the beginning of the intertwined road.


Chapter 67: Who is the One?
(by NativeRose, added on 12 November 2007 11:34 PM)


Josiah Ashmore focussed on helping Autumn cut and organize her food, but his heart was elsewhere. He had come to this hospital eight months ago. He certainly hadn't thought anything personal would develop. Sure, he enjoyed his job; actually, he loved what he did. He hadn't thought a romantic interest would begin. Sariah Golden was the type of person he was praying for. She was a godly woman, generous, kindheart and soft-spoken. Still, she had a great sense of humor. Sariah was the type of woman Josiah could see spending the rest of his life with. They had only been going steady for four months, but it was obvious that Sariah experienced the same thoughts and emotions. They were both committed to letting God lead, but they had to be careful not to confuse their emotions with God's direction. Still, Josiah wondered if Sariah could be the one.


Chapter 68: automs day out.
(by ian mcnamara, added on 13 November 2007 08:03 AM)


a fiew days after the praying session autum was pushed out of the door in her wheel chair for a day out with her mom. when she got the ramp lowerd on the car she had just bought to take autum's wheelchair lynn got in to the driving seat and took her daughter to the bar she freequented.
"Mom what are we doing here?" lyn just smiled and pushed the wheelchair in side the bar.

"Ho lynn back again usual is it?"

"No not for me thanks i'me here with my daughter autum to talk about god to you all as my friends i want you all to share the happy ness i have found since accepting christ."
the other people in the bar just scoffed at lynn, seing their reactions lynn started walking toords the bar hands shaking she got her money out of her purce andwas just about to ask for her usual cocktail. suddenly she felt a pull on her arm. looking round she saw autum pulling at her.

"What's up with you all?" autu asked. "Why are you making fun of my mother just because she has decided to turn her back on the drink and drugs and other bad stuff, well you lot don't deserve to know christ you have no respect for his followers and you are all just a bunch of nobodys and loosers just like him and thanks to my mom that looser who raped me is now locked up." as lynn felt autums hand in hers she found a new strength suddenly before the barman could do anything lynn put a bunch of notes on the table and said. "We are going autum i wil leave this money for them to carry on this stupid habbit. Good bye and good look you will never ever see me again." and with that lynn took autums wheel chair and pushed her out.

as she looked at the happy smile on her dauters face she knew with out a shaddow of a doubt that her dissission was the write one and that she was going to be okay, even if her and jason could not rebuild their marage she knew that she would be able to keep to her word and when autum finnaly died she would still have god and all the loving network


Chapter 69: a mirricle finnaly takes place.
(by ian mcnamara, added on 13 November 2007 08:12 AM)


one day autum woke up suddenly feeling brighter than she had felt in a long time as she opened her eyes she saw jason and lynn sat at ither side of her bed with jamason stood at the foot of it. suddenly autums doctor came in with seraya and her boyfriend

"Ho good you are all here." said the doctor. "Autum something amazing has happend, we have looked at your laitest blood tests and it looks like meraculessly your cancer went away over night we do not know how it has happend and if it is a perminant thing as the cells will still be dormant and it could come back at any time, plus your body was so riddled with it we do not know how much of the cancer may be hidden but at the momant their is hope." lynn jumped for joy so did jamason and jason. had god done his work? was their finnaly going to be some look for this family? first lynn found the way back to christ and normality then this. what was the next peace of good look going to be? the family wheir on a high and knew that finnaly a corner was being turned. lynn had got her self a good job as a counseler for drug addidcs and alcohollic teenagers and young adults and children who had problems with all types of abuse


Chapter 70: Disappointment and Uncertainty
(by NativeRose, added on 14 November 2007 12:06 AM)


Autumn couldn't believe what she was hearing! Her mom had just explained that she was in the Master of Arts in Counseling program at a local college. She was involved with the rescue mission in their town, and she found great satisfaction in helping the needy ones; she had been one of them herself. Now she wanted to reach out to others to help them through their struggles. However, before Lynne could continue, Autumn's oncologist entered the room with a grave expression on her face.
"Autumn, I have some bad news," she began. When Sariah, Abby and Josiah entered, Autumn knew something was terribly wrong. They all looked distressed, and they were praying together as the doctor continued speaking. "Your viles of blood were not properly marked before they were sent to the lab. Therefore, we got the wrong results. I have ordered more blood tests, but..."
"Well," Autumn began, trying to disguise the uncertainty in her voice and on her face, "God will heal me. He can do something miraculous in this life, or I will be healed when I die...that's when real life begins. I will keep fighting, though I sense the end is near. God fills me with indescribable peace, so even though I'm still scared, i know everything will be all right when my time here is finished. Sure, I'm afraid to die. Will it be painful? Will everyone be able to say goodbye and express all they're feeling? What will happen to my family? But I'm not afraid of death itself; I know what comes next--life!" This assurance came at exactly the right time.

Autumn was to go home in a few days, and she was excited, but she was also scared. She had heard someone use the big "H word"--hospice care. That was when she knew for certain that her work in this life was almost finished. Her Lord wouldn't take her home until His plan for her was complete. As the Psalmist said, all the days of her life were counted long before she was born.


Chapter 71: autums home comming.
(by ian mcnamara, added on 14 November 2007 08:00 AM)


a few days after the bad news autum was transferd to her wheel chair in order to be taken to jasons apartment. Lynn who was living near by was to help jason get autum home suddenly on the way home lynn said that she felt some kind of peace knowing that they wheir all together to share this momant. jamason who had reasontly got a apartment of his own was waiting at jason's apartment for them to pull up. As lynn lifted her daughter in to the wheel chair jason walked up to the apartment to open the door. when they went in to her amazement autum found that their wheir ramps all over the work serfises had been lowerd for autums use. jason and lynn explained that they wanted autum to have as much independance as the canser would alou as they did not want autum to feel like she was a burden. looking now at her mom and dad's eyes she knew their was something still between them. would they ever be able to find a way to get back together autum senced that this was the last thing she had to do and decided that lynn and jason would not be truely happy till they admitte this to their selves


Chapter 72: A Day of Reckoning
(by NativeRose, added on 29 March 2008 12:19 AM)


"Even forgiven sin has consequences," Lynn muttered as she watched the happy couple strolling through the cancer ward. Autumn was back in her second home--the hospital--for another course of treatment. Lynn stood at one end of the hallway, watching Jason and Sariah as they walked toward Autumn's room. True, Lynn and Jason now had an amicable relationship, but Lynn knew they would never be together again. After all, Jason and Sariah were engaged! They had told Autumn and Lynn this news on Autumn's first day back in the hospital. That announcement sure brightened Autumn's day, and she spent some of her time helping Sariah plan for the wedding. Although Lynn was happy for them, she felt a deep regret beyond anything she had ever experienced before. She knew she had messed everything up. She had been the source of all the pain her daughter and former husband were dealing with. She was the reason Jason's loving gaze was fixed upon Sariah and not her. How could she be jealous of Sariah? It was all her fault. Could she say she was truly happy for the newly-engaged couple? If she was honest, she would have to admit that she envied Sariah. All of her jealous notions were quickly followed by feelings of regret. She knew it was all her doing. The divorce was even permitted based on Biblical principals; after all, she was the adulterous woman. Lynn firmly pushed these thoughts from her mind. She was here to support her daughter, and standing around reminiscing and regretting the past wasn't going to help Autumn!

But the words Autumn spoke and the pure joy on her face shattered Lynn's resolve.
"you'll marry soon so I can be there, right?" Autumn was asking--no pleading--with Jason and Sariah.
"Well, I don't know..." Sariah's voice trailed off when she saw Autumn's disappointment. She looked to her fiance, and Lynn saw unspoken words pass between them. Their eyes spoke of tender affection for each other, and Lynn was again reminded of what she had given away...for a man who wasn't her husband! She also saw fierce determination on the faces of the others who loved Autumn, and she knew Jason and Sariah wouldn't deny Autumn's request. As Lynn watched Sariah flush Autumn's IV line and squeeze her hand for encouragement, she wondered if Sariah was the mother Lynn couldn't be. Lynn remembered times when she hadn't been attentive to Autumn's needs, even when she had something as simple as the flu. Maybe God put Sariah in Autumn's life during this time to give her the care she would need. Maybe He knew Lynn didn't have it within her to give Autumn what she needed. All manner of accusations rose up to denounce all of Lynn's repentent desires and actions. So she now wanted to be a real mother to Autumn. What did that matter? Autumn was dying, and Lynn had wasted so much time in the bottle. She wondered if she could truly make anything right before it was too late. At least Jason would find true happiness with Sariah, and they would ease Autumn's transition into the next life. If Lynn couldn't find solace in anything else, she could take comfort in that.


Chapter 73: The Fabric Strengthened
(by NativeRose, added on 30 March 2008 08:16 PM)


So what about Josiah? Lynn wondered. Was Jason still truly in love with her? Did he tell Lynn all that stuff about getting back together just to get back at her? It didn't seem so, but the story lines just didn't match up.

When Autumn became more lucid, she remembered what she had said in Jason, Sariah and her mother's presence. She had been so out of it on those two momentous occasions. Her sedative and narcotic had enveloped her brain in fog, but she had thought she still had a handle on things.

Autumn started when Josiah and Sariah walked into her room. She turned away from them so they wouldn't notice her embarrassment and ridicule her. Autumn should have known these people would never judge her, but... Sariah's words just confirmed this. "Autumn, Josiah and I have some news for you. The other day, you asked if we could marry soon so you could be present. We agreed to do this, and it fills us with such joy!"
"There is no way we would ignore your request."
"I have to admit that..." Autumn's voice trailed off as she turned away in shame again. How could she have been so foolish?
"I can't believe I told my mom that you and Jason were going to marry...And then, I asked my question. Now I have to reveal my foolishness to my mom."
"No worries...I already did that," Sariah began.
"Are you angry with me, Josiah?" Autumn asked in a tremulous voice.
"Of course not...both names start with a J, and given what was going on, it makes perfect sense."
"I already explained it to your mom," Sariah tried again, "I told her that you were heavily sedated, because those two days were some of the worst...as far as pain goes. And then you had a seizure the previous day. I wasn't about to correct you, because I knew what was going on. I knew you meant to refer to Josiah, not Jason. There is nothing wrong with getting the names mixed up...totally understandable."
Autumn appreciated the reminder that her friends understood her better than she knew herself. Of course they wouldn't be offended; none of them were like that! If anyone could justify experiencing some anger was Josiah, but he definitely didn't do that. He was still as attentive and gentle as ever.
Jason and Lynn would get back together, and maybe this time they would stick together. Autumn's parents were back together, and both had accepted Jesus as their Savior. Josiah and Sariah were to be married soon. Jamison had recently found an apartment and a job with better pay. Autumn was content, especially since the people in her life seemed to straighten everything out, and that was happening smoothly. As Josiah and Sariah left the room, Autumn's eyes closed in prayer, but she drifted off to sleep long before she was finished.


Chapter 74: The One
(by NativeRose, added on 4 April 2008 10:46 PM)


Lynn was correct in that Jason had a new romantic interest. Sure he had looked at Sariah in...that manner, but it was an expression that showed admiration, immense respect and a great love for his friend. The woman in Jason's life was another one of Autumn's favorite nurses. Perhaps Autumn got all the names mixed up, because of the similarity with letters, for Abigail was the one. Abbie was also a Christian, and like Sariah, she cared for Autumn as a mother would do. Lynn knew she didn't deserve another chance, and maybe it was better this way. Maybe Jason could finally be happy.

"It would be cool if it could be a double wedding," Autumn said from her bed. She was breathless, but it was due to her excitement.
"that's a great idea!" Abbie and Sariah said in unison.
"Well, we're in agreement. It's up to our menfolk to decide," Sariah said. Both women looked to their husbands-to-be for confirmation or rejection. To their relief, the men seemed excited, rather than dismayed.

Shortly after this conversation, Lynn slipped from Autumn's room. She was so dejected, disheartened, despondent and discouraged. "I need a drink," she muttered. She decided that was the only way she could get rid of her terrible gnawing ache inside, punctuated with sharp, stabbing pains when she saw or heard the couples in the vicinity. Maybe alcohol was her only comfort. At least it could numb her mind. She wouldn't have to think, and then she wouldn't feel anything. She knew she deserved nothing but what she was getting now. It was all her fault. However, if she couldn't try things with Jason again, she might as well spend her life in a bottle. She knew Jason was right to move on with his life. He had given her so many opportunities to change things. Now he found love in another. He was so happy with Abbie, and the woman clearly adored Jason. They were always putting each other's needs first, and it was the same with Sariah and Josiah. And then there was Autumn... She was the one who was dying, but she gave so unselfishly. Lynn couldn't stand these thoughts anymore, and before she really knew what was happening, she looked to see the the bright, welcoming sign, and she heard the many sounds coming from the building. Once she had that drink in her hand...


Chapter 75: Plunging
(by NativeRose, added on 7 April 2008 02:13 AM)


Lynn was certainly at the bottom of the glass of her life as well as the drink. Soon she finished the bottle. She was a little better; she could no longer remember the specifics of those memories that drove her here...whatever here was. She needed to drink much more, because as she stared into the liquid, she could still feel.
"It's not enough...will it ever be enough?" she muttered.
"Hey, you look a bit blue...the next one's on me." That was the man she had barely noticed when she walked in. Now she looked up to see him sitting next to her.
"Okay, sure," she mumbled, but she gave him a grateful smile.
"So tell me...what a pretty thang like you doing over here 'lone?" Lynn was certainly in a state of inebriation, and although she could still sense emotion, she was approaching inhibition. "I don't wonna be'lone no more..."
"Well, baby, I'm your man."
"Yeah, well good, 'cause he run off with a noose."
"What?"
I mean...a nurse. My daughter. She's almost dead. Hey, maybe I should go bring...take...something to help with her pain." The man, who wasn't quite as mixed up as Lynn, was able to think through her words.
"Wait...um...what's your name?"
"Lynn Hansen...no, Keller! That was my man. He lef' me fo' a nurse."
"Well, mine's Lance. Is she, the girl, in the hospital?"
"Yeah. I should take some of this..." She abruptly picked up her glass and spilled the beverage.
"Oh...to heck with this! Wasted perfectly good liquor! Still...I gotta 'nuf to give 'er."
"They won't let you take it into no blasted hospital."
"We could try."
"Why not come back to my place? That way, you won't be alone. You can't get in no trouble at the hosp...that thing. I know what you need." And why not? Lynne's sluggish mind conjured up images of Jason and Abbie, but they faded into oblivion as the man put his arm around her and guided her toward his vehicle.


Chapter 76: The Dawn
(by NativeRose, added on 7 April 2008 03:27 AM)


Lance and Lynn spent the night together in drunken bliss. But when she woke in the morning, she looked at her surroundings with dismay and growing dread. Oh no...What had she done? That man snored loudly beside her. Who was he? She couldn't remember. I can't think past this blasted headache, she inwardly complained. Now where were her clothes? As she searched, she stumbled over a shoe and landed on the floor with a resounding crash. He awoke, startled to find someone in his home. And she was naked! What in the world had happened? He remembered going to the Sugar Shack and then... Oh nno, that's what he had done. He looked over at her and saw that she was putting her shirt on.
"Hey, where you goin' sweetie?" he asked groggily.
"Gotta get to the hospital...I'll have a lot of explaining to do."
"No, don't leave. You want somethin' to help you r'lax?"
"I gotta get there."
"Well, if you have to...but don't come back!"

When Lynn reached the hospital, she prayed to the whatever out there to not let anyone know what she had done.
As soon as Lynn walked, or more like staggered, into Autumn's room, the girl burst into tears. Josiah stepped between Autumn and her mother, not knowing what the recently intoxicated woman would do. Jason turned menacing eyes upon Lynn.
"What are you doing here?" He asked the question quietly, but his anger was evident.
"Well, I have the right to see her, too, Jason...Hey, girl, why are you crying?" Lynn peeked around the human tree in front of her and saw some guy in scrubs holding her daughter.
"Hey, whatcha doin' with her?" Lynn screamed, trying to plow through Jason.
"Josiah," Jason said the one word, but Josiah knew what Autumn's father wanted.
"I already called for...as soon as she came in." Josiah briefly turned from Autumn's tear-stained face to glance toward the door. Jason stood his ground and wouldn't let her pass. Then, somewhere in Lynn's drunken fog, she realized she could go around Jason. She darted to his left and rushed toward the bed.
"No!" Autumn screamed, as loud as one in her state of life could do. Now Lynn had to get through that doctor person.
"Outta my way, boy!" Lynn growled at him.
"Leave the room," Josiah said calmly. He did not turn to face the agitated woman until she started shouting. "What the heck are you doing? I wanna...you can't keep me from..." Josiah still gripped Autumn's hand, but he turned to Lynn.
"I will not hesitate to get security over here." His voice was soft, calm and stern. Autumn's little body shook violently as she sobbed uncontrollably.
"Stop crying! You weak specimen of a..."
"Stop!" Autumn sobbed.
Lynn seemed to alternate from wanting to see Autumn to hurling insults at her. Josiah thought it was all for control. Jason heard voices outside Autumn's room, so he flung the door open.
"Thank God you're here!" he gasped as he stepped out of the way. Sariah, Abigail and a security guard rushed into the room.
"What're ya doin' here?" Lynn spat at the newcomers.
"Lynn, you must leave this hospital immediately," the security guard said.
"No, I ain't gonna do that. I don't wanna..." Her voice trailed off as she looked at Autumn again.
"I told you to stop crying! You got no respect for..." Once again, she was silenced as the security guard took her in hand. But before they could retreat, another figure plowed into them from behind.
"Hey!" Lynn hollered, but then she saw who it was.
"It's you!" she said in surprise.
"Yeah. What you doing to her?" the unknown male turned to the guard.
No one could answer, because at that moment, Sariah and Josiah marched toward the threesome. "Get out immediately!" No one had ever heard Sariah raise her voice. She was trembling in her anger, and her flaming eyes seemed to burn into Lynn.
"Who are..." Autumn began to ask.
"Shut up, you wasted, useless blob of--" Lynn was dragged from the room, screaming obsenities at Autumn.


Chapter 77: the Shattered Face
(by NativeRose, added on 7 April 2008 04:40 AM)


"She's always so strong for everyone," Sariah murmured.
"Yes, she doesn't seem to realize that she can break, if only a little." That was Jason.

The lone figured stood out of sight behind a filing cabinet. The wanderer had peeked at the nurse's name and located the place where she usually conducted staff meetings. Now she was in there with the girl's father and all those people in their scrubs. they were all saps, such sentimental fools! Why wouldn't they just let the girl die? It was people like her who were draining the health care system so people like this spy couldn't get what they needed.
"I don't know how she can hold it all together." that was the one they called Abbie. She seemed to be quite chummy with that girl's mountain of a father.

Back in Autumn's room, Josiah flushed her IV in order to inject medicine into the tubing. She was agitated, angry and frightened. She was just exhausted, but she couldn't sleep in her mental state. A second nurse, Marla, entered upon the girl's request. She, too, was one of Autumn's favorite nurses. Autumn knew Sariah and Abbie weren't available, so Marla went to talk to her.
"It was so scary," Autumn began, in little more than a whisper. "I have seen a lot of scary things in my life, but that was so unexpected! I can't believe my mom said all those things! Sometimes I don't think I ever want to see her again. Does that sound weird?"
"Of course not; you're entitled to your feelings."
"I'm glad my dad is marrying Abbie. I often wonder what it would be like if she was my mom. How would things have been different if you, Josiah or Sariah were family members instead. Now, all that is left of what my parents created is a broken-down shell. No wonder my mom thinks I'm worthless! Sometimes I think she's right; when she says those things, I feel like I'm just a useless blob of something undefinable taking up space in a hospital bed. And then I feel guilty, like maybe I'm not trusting God enough."
"You're one of the strongest people I know," Sariah began. Autumn had not heard her enter the room, and she was turned toward the wall, so she did not see the nurse come in. She slowly turned her head and saw her best friends there. Abbie, Sariah, Marla, Josiah and Jason stood around her bed, and they all wore concerned expressions. Even if her mother didn't care, they did. Then why did it have to hurt so much?

The figure slipped out of the shadows and crept along the hallway, staying out of sight when people walked by. The bottle was in hand, and now all the accomplice could do was wait for the proper time.


Chapter 78: Looking Glass
(by NativeRose, added on 9 April 2008 11:41 PM)


The peephole was just large enough to see blurry images moving in that girl's room. The accomplice cooked up a course of action beyond anything those religious nuts could create. The ideas came and that plan was set in motion. It had to be carried out with great precision and care. Even a slight mistake could prove to be disastrous. The perpetrator couldn't have anyone screwing up the perfectly catastrophic nightmare. A malicious smile complimented the smoldering eyes. That smile changed to something angelic when another person could procure the desired item.

Autumn's friends bid her good night with many prayers and assurances that they would not leave her. Still, she was not at peace. She couldn't erase the memory of the expression of hatred on her mother's face and the danger portrayed in her voice. She tried to sleep, but her mind was still racing. Soon enough, however, she sluggishly thanked God for her friends...and especially for the sedative Josiah had injected into her IV.

When she awoke, she couldn't see the clock to find out how long she had slept. Someone or something was blocking her view. She turned toward the door and found it closed. What was that all about? Her mental fog gradually began to fade. The person before her wore a nursing uniform, so she didn't think anything of it. She figured it was just the nurse who made the hourly rounds, periodically checking vitals. She began to surrender to the sweet oblivion but was sharply and suddenly jolted into clear and terrifying reality. It was the sensation of cold metal against her chest. However, when she noticed the immediate elimination of that coldness, she became quite alarmed. That nurse was doing something with her IV, but what was the deal with the metal? Then her whole sense of equilibrium got mixed up, and she felt herself slipping into darkness again; however, this time it was like death.


Chapter 79: Imprisoned
(by NativeRose, added on 9 April 2008 11:57 PM)


The figure passed the incriminating evidence to the other person standing outside the window. The IV was left hanging with saline solution dripping on the floor. Usually, an alarm signaling the accidental removal of an IV would sound. However, the criminal deftly and suruptitiously disconnected the girl's call light and other implements leading to the nursing station. Thus, the nurses went through the corridor, peacefully checking on the other patients in the cancer ward. One of the final acts in preparation for this event was finally carried out just before the seemingly innocent nurse appeared before Autumn. An isolation sign had been posted on her door. When nurses saw that, they would catch each other coming and going to figure out what happened. By the time they untangled everything and put particulate masks on, the criminals and their quarry would be gone.

Autumn awoke in a completely unfamiliar place. It sure wasn't her hospital bed. She didn't hear the regular sound of the heart monitor. When she reached out, she didn't feel the bed rails. She was shivering, and she realized she wasn't covered with the customary but effective hospital blankets. After this thought slowly crawled through her confused mind, she realized she wasn't wearing anything at all! Where was her flannel, floral nightgown? The final thing that served to alarm her was the rope. Her arms had been pulled up over her head and tied together. Her legs were tied at the knees and ankles. Where was she? Obviously, it wasn't a safe place, and she could do nothing to defend herself. She lay on the cold concrete floor with her arms and legs bound, a perfect target for absolutely anything. Autumn heard footsteps outside a door, but they were getting closer. She trembled in fright when the key slipped into the lock and the door opened.
"You're right back where you belong," a familiar voice almost growled at her. Oh Lord, is this the end? This was her last thought before another figure, tall and imposing, standing above her with a most malicious gleam in his eye.


Chapter 80: A True Rescue?
(by NativeRose, added on 10 April 2008 02:48 AM)


Monstrocity--that was the only word that could describe a tiny aspect of the nightmare that followed the entrance of the two people. The woman stood transfixed and purely giddy with evil joy. She watched and listened to the girl as the man took over her body, and hopefully her mind. The hidious laughter flowed from her mouth as the man spoke his first words.
"You can scream all you want to, little girl, because no one will ever hear you. Besides, you won't be screaming for long, so enjoy it before you die!"

Abbie stood outside Autumn's room pondering the bewildering sight before her. Who had posted an isolation sign outside her door? Why would they have done that? Abbie instinctively knew something unspeakable was happening; something was terribly wrong. Should she call Jason or the head of infectious diseases? She decided on the doctor.
"This is melody Jenkins's..." Oh....to heck with it...I'm going to page her! Abbie rushed back to Autumn's room and paged the doctor while she speed-dialed Jason. Jason answered just as the PA system blasted the request. "Melody Jenkins to cancer, code blue..."
"What?" Jason, who had heard the announcement screamed. "What happened?"
"I'm not sure...I went to Autumn's room for vitals and I saw an isolation sign posted on her door. Something is terribly wrong...I don't know what...oh, gotta go; melody is here."
"What happened? This had better be important, as a code blue is reserved for..."
"Who put Autumn in isolation?"
"She's not in isolation. Her condition hasn't changed. I would have been the first to spot infection in her blood."
"So you didn't do this? There wasn't a doctor who ordered it?"
"No..." Melody's voice trailed off, and both women stared at each other in complete confusion. They ran to Autumn's room and reached for the door handle at the same time. When Melody flung it open, Abbie stumbled back with her hand to her mouth. Saline solution flooded the room, Autumn's bed was empty, and the window was open. The monitors and cables were strewn about the room. The heart monitor said she had flat-lined. By this time, Marla came to see what the noise was all about.
"We didn't hear anything at the nurse's station. Perhaps the system malfunctioned." But just as Sariah had spoken, the alert did sound, seeming to prove her wrong. Obviously, this alarm was for another patient, but this was proof that Autumn's monitors had been disabled. Jason ran into the room, almost colliding with Abbie. "What happened?" he practically shouted.
"There are still patients sleeping," Abbie reminded him in a whisper. At that moment, a Korean in housekeeping stopped in the doorway. She had noticed something shiny on the floor.
"Nurse...you...need...this?" she said in stilted English. Abbie rushed to her and snatched the card from her hand. "Thank you," she said a little apologetically in response to the young woman's startled look. The girl left the room and continued on her mission. Abbie glanced at the card and saw just what they needed to trace the story.
"Sariah, I know you're off duty, but I just started..."
"Jason and I will go!" Sariah grabbed Jason's arm and propelled him out the door.
They went to security to look up the name on the card to find the address. They had to play this extremely carefully. They had to get all of the people out safely. An off-duty security guard who was connected to the whole Autumn case went with them for safety purposes.

Jacob Harding wouldn't admit his own fear to the people in the car with him. He had to play this cool so as not to cause any more distress for them. When they reached the house, Jason went in with a radio of sorts. The extension would be with Sariah and Jacob, so they could enter at just the appropriate time.

Jason nonchalantly walked to the door and knocked, but not in an urgent manner. A frazzled Lynn opened the door.
"What are you doing here?" she asked. In a sense, Jason was glad she was drunk. That meant he might be able to pull this off without too much trouble.
"So Lynn," he began casually.
"Yeah?" she said in a slow drawl.
"There was a really important letter that was sent to me. However, it's yours, and it said it was urgent." Jason made sure he was positioned so he could look out the window without Lynn suspecting something. She stared at him, which meant her back was to the same window. Jason saw Sariah slowly crawl along the same wall. She made sure she was below the level of the window as soon as Jason saw her suttle clue to him.

Jacob and Sariah had more radios set to a different frequency, so they were able to converse without interception. Jacob thought there might be a basement, and she was sent to investigate. No one but Jacob knew she carried a gun. If she found Autumn, the girl would willingly go with her, whereas she wouldn't go anywhere with Jacob, because she didn't know him quite as well.

Lynn snatched the envelope from Jason's hand. He had purposely typed some nonsensical characters in a print too small for Lynn could read without her glasses. It would take her forever to make sense of it, even if she wasn't drunk. He knew this only bought him time, but Jacob and Sariah were skilled in this. Jason could see that they already worked together for the rescue operation. As Lynn squinted at the small letters, Jason suruptitiously glanced out the window. He did this just as Jacob made a v-shape with his thumb and forefinger. Autumn was there, and Sariah had found her!

It was time for Jacob to make his move. He walked toward the house, just as casually as Jason had done. When his knock summoned Lynn, he carefully took an appraisal to figure out just what to do next.
"Hello, ma'am," he said in a relaxed manner. "I'm here to see Lance." She paled slightly, and Jacob knew they had found all they needed.
"Lance?" she asked sharply.
"Yeah, I'm Kenny, one of his friends. This is where Lance Armstrong lives, right? I mean, I know he moved recently, but perhaps I wrote the address down incorrectly." He pretended to be thoroughly confused so she would let down her guard.
"Oh, sure." Lynn stepped aside as he entered.
"Hey, Jason, can you read this letter for me? The print is too small. What were they thinking?" By this time, Lance had heard the activity and wanted to find out what it was all about. He shuffled into his kitchen and stopped abruptly.
"Is ou!" he slurred.
"What's wrong?" Lynn wanted to know. "he said he's Ken, and I know you mentioned--"
"No, I seen this boy at the hospital!"
"What is this?" Lynn screamed, charging toward Jason with fists flailing. At the same time, Lance rushed the guard. But Jacob was too quick for him. As Lynn punched Jason in the nose, Jacob, who was distracted with the drunken fool, pulled his gun!


Chapter 81: Resolve
(by NativeRose, added on 10 April 2008 03:19 AM)


Jacob thanked God that Lance was unarmed.
"Listen lady, if you take one more step toward Jason, I will not hesitate to blow a hole right through you!" Jacob then turned the gun on Lance. "As for you, the activity tonight gives me enough to put you in jail for a good long time. I'll do this right, though."
"What?" Lance said, trying not to appear shaken. "What you talkin' 'bout?"
"You know exactly what's going on."
"I want to know why. Why would you..." This time, Lance charged toward Jason with murder in his eyes. Jacob discharged a bullet and brought Lance down.
"Oh God," Lance groaned as he crumpled to the floor, surveying the patch of red spreading down his leg. They all heard a scream in response to the gunshot.
"Tell that girl to shut her mouth!" Lance roared. He was completely wasted, and now he had the pain to contend with. Thus, he let that most important nugget slip without really knowing what he was saying.
"Boy, you shut up!" Lynn said firmly. Then, "what are you talking about?"
"It's time this stopped," Jason said in a carefully controlled and low voice, "all I want to know is...why?" Lynn turned away with complete and utter hatred in her eyes. Unfortunately, she now faced the window. She looked out just in time to see Sariah gently put the stretcher bearing Autumn into the vehicle.
"You...you..." she was furious and couldn't get words out. "You can just go to blazes! As Jason and Jacob rushed from the house, Lynn and Lance continued to scream obscenities at them.

They raced back to the hospital, with Sariah in the back compartment with Autumn. Jacob got a glimpse of Autumn's naked, beaten form. As he turned to grab a blanket, Jason saw the anger smoldering in his eyes.
"I don't want to know what that bast...what he did to her," he mouthed to Jason. He said aloud, "It won't be too hard to get a warrant on him." Sariah did not respond, as she was busy cutting the ropes and surveying the damage. She tucked the blanket around the fragile form and turned back toward the men. Jason saw the tears in her eyes, and she noticed that his own glistened with unexpressed pain. Jason reached out and gently squeezed her hand.
"No matter what happens," he said through clenched teeth, "I'll do anything to see them behind bars...for life!"

When Autumn was safely situated in her room, she refused to tell the story.
"We have to know so we can make sure we treat..." Sariah explained gently. Abbie and Josiah entered the room just in tome to hear Autumn's tirade.
"You people think you can do whatever you want to with my body! In case you forgot, it's still my body! You all handle me like I'm nothing more than a...a...And men," she said, though Jamison had just entered behind the nurses. "they think they can just take whatever and leave us with the consequences! I hate men with a passion! They're all a bunch of control freaks who have no concern for people, especially women! They're so degrading, and guess who has to live with the shame! My body isn't my own...they have drilled into it, shoved tubes into me, pumped chemicals into it, turned my body inside out and worst of all...raped me! Just give me a lethal dose of morphine...so I don't have to feel anymore!" This was the first Jason heard, because Abbie had just called him to tell him to get there right away. She didn't explain specific details, so as he heard this angry torrent, he didn't understand it. He looked completely shocked, as did Abbie and Josiah. The nurses had some idea of what happened, but they weren't expecting a response like that!


Chapter 82: Double Revelation
(by NativeRose, added on 10 April 2008 01:03 PM)


Jamison stood open-mouthed, surveying what he could see. Blankets covered her, so all he could see was her face. It was ravaged with pain, anger...and maybe hatred. What had happened? He wanted to know every detail, but he knew this was not the time to ask.
"I'll have to ask all of you to leave..." Sariah turned to the men in the room.
"I don't want that freak in here!" Autumn screamed with an accusing glance toward Josiah. He appeared untouched, and Sariah was glad he seemed to understand where the anger originated. Instead, he left with Jason and Jamison, leaving Abbie and Sariah to untangle the whole story along with the complex medical problems related to this nightmare.

The two nurses looked at each other, uncertain of just how to proceed. They had no idea how she would react to anything. The sweet, gentle girl had turned into a raging, unpredictable hurricane. They both uttered silent prayers, not knowing they prayed for the same thing in unison. They slowly uncovered Autumn, explaining every step along the way. They had a good idea of...what else had happened that night.
"We will have to take you to radiology to make sure there isn't any internal damage--"
"there is always damage! Don't you get it yet?" Autumn interrupted harshly.
"I know, Autumn," Abbie said sympathetically, "the worst of the pain can't be viewed with x-rays or scans." Josiah, who knew what needed to be done, tapped on the window to get a nurse's attention. Abbie was informed that Autumn's favorite x-ray technician was available and Josiah specifically requested her. The nursing supervisor hurried to Autumn's room when Josiah conveyed the whole thing.

When Carrie Kimball saw the grave expression on Josiah's face, she knew something was terribly wrong. She was filled with trepidation, then horror, as Autumn's tale unfolded. She went to the girl's room at once.
"Sariah, you're still here?" she asked, incredulous.
"Don't worry, I don't want overtime!" Sariah snapped. Carrie opened her mouth to say something, and then thought better of it. She knew Sariah's words weren't aimed at her; they were in response to the stress of the recent events. Besides, she had been "on duty" for seventeen hours thus far. Just then, the technician entered to take Autumn to radiology."
"Who's that?" Autumn questioned sharply.
"It's Nancy," the woman responded softly.
"Oh, I guess you can take me," Autumn grumbled.

"so what happened?" Abbie asked anxiously.
Jason and Sariah explained the various parts of the story, punctuated by Abbie's horrified gasps.

Lynn awoke to the glaring sun in her eyes. She groaned as she rolled over so her back was to the window. She was so darn tired! She had taken Lance to the nearest emergency room. She really wanted to go to the hospital where Autumn was being treated to get the whole lot of them fired...and then some! However, she had to get him to an ER as soon as possible. That was fifteen hours ago. Lance had slipped into a drug-induced sleep as soon as they returned to his flat. Lynn looked at the clock. She had only gotten three hours of sleep! She was so tired and hungry. Then she remembered why the whole thing had affected her so profoundly. She remembered that she hadn't told Lance yet. Great, she thought, just one more thing to... Well, that was all Autumn's fault anyway. That was why they had to get back at her. Lynn knew revenge was an immature game, but she just had to play, and Autumn deserved Lynn and Lance's twisted recreation. Would she tell Autumn about what she had done? Yes, she decided. Autumn hadn't suffered enough emotionally; Lynn would inflict the same pain upon her that she and Jason had used to destroy Lynn. They had made her look outside herself, and they tried to tell her of things that brought fear. Worst of all, they revealed her so-called weakness and her darkest secrets. That act alone justified all of Lynn's actions.


Chapter 83: The Fire
(by NativeRose, added on 12 April 2008 01:36 AM)


It was time to call Autumn. If Lynn was the praying sort, she'd pray for them all to be there. But if she had been the praying kind, she wouldn't be in this situation...She forced her mind back to the present. A malicious smile spread across Lynn's face as she picked up the phone and dialed.

Autumn picked up the phone with some trepidation. Who would be calling?
"Autumn, it's..."
"I know who you are." Everyone knew who was on the lind just by the change in Autumn's voice. The girl listened for a moment without saying anything, and she activated a speaker phone.
"Apparently there is something Lynn wants to talk to us about."
"Do you have no respect, girl? I am still your mother!"
"Yes, I'm aware of that...so what is it you wanted to--"
"It is all your fault, Jason and Autumn."
"What?" Lynn heard a chorus of voices, and she was glad many of the sentimental fools were there. She could smear Jason and Autumn, and then those religious nuts wouldn't want her in their hospital anymore.
"Well, I'm pregnant, and it's all because of you!" Lynn cried.
"How is that our fault?" It was Jason who answered, and Lynn felt angry because she did not have the privelege of hearing Autumn's answer.
"Well, when you started working more often, I needed something to take the pain. Then you were hardly ever home, and I just needed someone to affirm my worth. I needed Mike. And then you left me, never once considering your daughter. You ignored her, too. And Autumn, as for you, the reason your father almost killed me was because you told him all kinds of lies. He never would have left if you hadn't embellished the story about my affair. It was not an affair at all. Mike just showed me kindness, more so than you two ever did. You're such hypocrites!"
"I don't get this, and I will not listen to you attack Autumn and Jason's character--" Josiah said firmly.
"And then when you got sick, Autumn, Jason came back. You made me remember all the pain, you weak specimen of a--"
"You know what?" Sariah asked sharply. "You need to get your own life straightened out. Go to a psychiatrist, okay? Do not blame your daughter and her father. You are the one who created this entire mess, and I don't ever want to hear you talk to or about Jason and Autumn that way again! Now, if there is something of real...yes, I said real...importance you need to say, do it. If not, we're going to disconnect."
"Listen, lady. You have no right to tell me what to do. I am free to speak and to tell them my feelings. After all, if I bottle it up inside, I might end up doing something that can not be retracted. And then my death would haunt them forever."
"Oh, give me a life," Josiah muttered.
"and so you two forced me to go to the extreme...I mean, the night I met Lance, I just felt so alone and desperate! How else was I supposed to handle the separation of my daughter and ex? The stress of Autumn's illness is just too much for me, and Jason, you should have been there to stand beside me all the way. You only came for Autumn, not me. We were poor and had no money; I couldn't pay for all her medical bills. I wouldn't have been able to do that if we were a dual-earner, two-parent household. Jamison, you believed all their lies! How could you believe Jason and Autumn over me? Don't you all see? This is a tactic just to smear my own reputation! It's--" Abbie had had enough of this tirade. She pressed a button to disconnect.
"That...that..." Jason sputtered.
"She's pregnant? I don't think she and Lance will be good parents." She looked away as she seemed to choke on the criminal's name. "Each time I think about him or say his name," she began in a voice that sounded a milion miles away, "I see his face and hear his laughter. I remember when he told me I was going to die. And I will never forget what it felt like when..." Jason took one hand, and Sariah the other. Jamison and Abbie each touched a sheet-covered foot. Josiah, Abbie, Marla and Carrie gathered around and placed hands on knees or shoulders. Several spontaneously began to pray at once, and Autumn couldn't help but smile. I feel guilty for expressing the sadness and anger when all of my friends are here, instead of that monster and my mother." She didn't realize she had spoken the words alound until Sariah, Carrie and Josiah responded in unison.
"You have the right to feel the way you do," That was Josiah. That was interesting; he was a man, but how could he see her as a person, not a sex machine?
"Josiah is right; what that man did was attrocious!" Abbie exclaimed.
"I would think something was wrong with you if you didn't feel something like that," Marla interjected. "and you're human; it's aloud." Jason finished her statement for her.
Thus, the battle raged within Autumn. She knew her friends were right, but she couldn't help... Sariah had just said something about the baby. What was it? But the nurses needed to be elsewhere, so Autumn would have to wait to find out.


Chapter 84: Baby Answers
(by NativeRose, added on 12 April 2008 01:57 AM)


"I said, Jason and I have discussed and prayed about this, and we want to adopt Lynn's baby," Abbie said for the third time. They were all so shocked! No one knew what Lynn would do with the baby, and they all prayed she would not have an abortion. If she could be convinced to give the baby up for adoption, Jason and Abbie would be there to take him...or her. It seemed God answered their prayers when...
Lynn shoved the glass door open, and Lance ran through it before it could close on him. They marched to the elevator, and Lance slammed the button...but the door was opening. Lynn forcefully pressed the button for Autumn's floor, and when they exited, they clearly had a purpose in mind. Autumn's door was closed, but that deterred them not. Lance flung it opened, and it hit the wall with a resounding crash. Lynn nearly laughed out loud at the startled expression on Autumn's face. Good, Lynn thought, she's alone right now. However, that was not to last long.
"Something is terribly wrong!" Abbie said, bursting into Sariah's own little work area.
"What is it?"
"I don't know...just intuition or something, but we have to get to Autumn's room!"
"Well, Jason and Jamison just went to the cafeteria..."
"So what?" Abbie raced down the hall with Sariah right behind her. Just then, they heard the sound that confirmed Abbie's suspicion.

"I don't want this baby!" Lynn spat at Autumn.
"Look at what you have done! I don't have health insurance, and I sure as heck can't afford to pay for no abortion!"
Thank God, Abbie and Sariah thought, then she can't cause the baby any harm that way. God, please don't let her kill the baby another way.
"So why not put the baby up for adoption?" Autumn asked.
"What? I'm not resigned to carrying this baby. You and your pro-life sentiments can just go to blazes! You think there's any way I will carry this baby to term, go through the blasted pain of labor just to give the ugly child up?"
"Um...well..." Autumn didn'tknow what to say. She knew what her mom was like, but how could she speak so about her unborn baby? That child was a person, too.
"Lynn, see reason," Sariah began.
"And just where do you think I'll find the money for all the crap that goes into that?"
"What if we take her?" Jason heard Abbie say as he approached the room. Lynn's back was to the door, so she didn't see him enter. He tiptoed in with the stealth of a Lakota Sioux Native American. It was imperative that Lynn not know he was there until just the right time.
"What? You?" Lynn stared at Abbie in shock. "There is still the issue of money. Do you have an answer for that, you--"
Abbie didn't wait to hear what she would have said next. She plunged ahead, effectively cutting Lynn's speech short. "We will all help to cover the cost. We truly want a child, and if you do not want yours, we want the opportunity to give her a home."
"Well, I..." Lynn's voice trailed off. She didn't know what to say. Maybe they were right, but she certainly would never admit that to them.


Chapter 85: The Decision
(by NativeRose, added on 12 April 2008 07:26 PM)


"So what are you going to do?" Lance was saying.
"What?" Lynn asked, startled.
"I said...we can't have a baby! I ain't never planned for that!"
"And you think I want it?" Lynn asked.
"How we get into this mess?"
"I dunno."
They were both wasted, so this wasn't the right time to talk about this. Still, neither one would have the courage to discuss it when they were sober.
"So, some lady at that hosp...hosp...that place. Anyways, some lady want the baby."
"Some stanger?"
"Yeah, don't remember fo' sho."
"Well, give 'em to her!"
"Yeah, that it!"

Abbie was tired after her twelve-hour shift. She was more than ready to go home. Her day had been rather eventful. It started out with a child who went into cardiac arrest, another who had many seizures that day, and Autumn had yet another infection. Thus, as Abbie walked across the parking lot, she groaned inwardly. Lynn and Lance staggered toward her.
"I don't want trouble," she began firmly.
"Noooo," Lynn slurred.
"Then what are you doing here?"
"You're the one, ain't ya?" she asked.
"The one?"
"Yeah, that srange baby's mama."
"You mean, yours?"
"Yeah, have it." And with that, they shuffled away.
Abbie was no longer tired. She was invigorated, and she couldn't even think about leaving without finding Jason and Sariah. She was surprised and relieved to see Lynn leave without putting up a fuss.
She rushed to the cancer floor and almost collided with Sariah.
"Wow...what happened to you?" Sariah asked with a teasing glint in her eyes.
"Lynn just came...drunk as ever, and says I can have her baby. She said it so casually; It was like she was giving me a piece of paper or something."
"Do you think she'll remember? And if she doesn't, what will you do? This has to be all legal, you know."
"Of course I know that, but it won't be hard to convince the judge that she can not provide a safe home environment; after all, Autumn was placed elsewhere, so it's not like the authorities don't have a history with this lady."

The next day, when Lynn and Lance arrived at the hospital, they were a little more lucid.
"So how are you feeling Lynn? Is this pregnancy going well?" Sariah asked casually as they walked toward Autumn's room.
"I'm gonna give that baby to this lady..."
"Do you remember the lady's name?" The question was absurd! Still, Sariah knew this was far from a normal situation. Great, Sariah thought, as Abbie appeared...at exactly the right time.
"Her!" Lynn exclaimed, pointing at the younger woman.
"Okay, so do you remember who that is?"
Snatches of memory began to form in Lynn's mind.
"Abbie," she said, as if revealing some great truth, "that's it!"
"Do you know the process for this?" Abbie asked.
"Well, no, I ain't not done this a'fore."
"I didn't expect that," Abbie began, "maybe we should start the process this week. I'll definitely go through everything with you. After all, I'll be the one with your--"
"It ain't my baby!" Lynn practically screamed.
"Miss Keller," Sariah said firmly, "this is a hospital."
"Well yeah, but it ain't my baby! Don't ever say that again!"
"Okay, can I pick you up and take you to the--"
"What?" Now Lance got in on the yelling action. "You ain't messin' in my territory!"
"If you can not contain your voices--"
"Fine! Wher ya wan me to go?" Lynn asked in a softer, but no less harsh, tone.
"We can meet at your house." Abbie suggested this because she sure didn't want Lynn driving, especially if this kind of thing was going to continue. She was already developing a plan. She would save that baby from a life of broken or nonexistent dreams.


Chapter 86: Confinement
(by NativeRose, added on 18 April 2008 11:57 PM)


Lynn and Lance were plastered most of the time. In the beginning, she almost forgot she was pregnant...almost, but not quite. Abbie had forced her to see an obstetrician. She couldn't force Lynn to continue to go to her appointments. The lack of money seemed a good excuse to get that nurse off her back. But then, Abbie had said several others were helping to pay the lump sum. Lynn wouldn't forget the OB's words to her.
"You must cease your drinking. You must also develop regular and healthy eating habits. Your baby depends on it! The alcohol consumption will greatly impair, if not kill, your baby!" the doctor had stressed quite emphatically and often.
"So what could happen?" Lynn had asked.
"You're early in your pregnancy, so it could result in organ dysfunctions, and if you continue, he or she could have physical disabilities and mental and emotional problems. Surely, you don't want to cause such problems. Fetal alcohol syndrome is completely preventable."
"No, I'm not a murderer, but the risk of killing this thing ain't that high, right?"
"Lynn, this is a life. Would you inject poison into your daughter or intimate?"
"No," Lynn said, concealing a smile. She hadn't been the one to inject drugs into Autumn; she was just the accomplice.
"I'm going to refer you to a substance abuse treatment program."
"What?" Lynn exploded.
"That might be the only way to keep your baby alive, and it can improve yours as well. I garuntee--"
"You can't do this!"
"No, but the judicial system might have something to say about it." The doctor firmly led Lynn from the office. As she turned away from the window, she breathed a sigh of relief. It was then that she began praying for that little baby. She prayed that Lynn would abide by these conditions for the baby's sake.

Lynn was just livid! How dare that doctor criticize her for her lifestyle. It was her baby, and she should be able to do whatever she wanted to. She certainly wouldn't attend a stupid center that would be a waste of time. Different plans were in place that would reverse this decision.

Judge Amanda Nelson would preside over the hearing that was scheduled for the next day.
"You're out on parole, Miss Keller."
"Yes."
"One of the conditions is that you attend a drug addiction treatment program, where your health will be stabalized for you and the baby. You will also begin counseling sessions with staff at Meadow Springs. If you violate these terms--"
"You can't send me back to jail!" Lynn shouted, though it sounded more like a whine.
"Miss Keller!" the judge reprimanded severely, effectively silencing the pregnant woman's tirade. "you are court ordered to begin this treatment before five days are out. Because of the serious and life-threatening nature of this problem, we must proceed with expediency. If not, you will be heavily fined and you will return to jail without parole." She finished with finality, whereupon Lynn was led out of the courtroom and to the authorities who would transport her elsewhere.


Chapter 87: Lance opens up and other surprises
(by jennifer palmer, added on 30 April 2008 08:49 AM)


Lance Jacobs walked down the street. Lynne had just been forced in to rehab and he didn't have a clue what to do. He noticed a blind woman calmly sitting on a bench trying with no luck to light a menthall cigarrette he watched as time and time and time again the wind hit her bick lighter putting it out. "Hey, need some help" he asked as for the fifteenth time her lighter didn't light. "yeah, waiting on the 114 to take me to the AA hall downtown. I gotta get to a meeting before i drink myself in to a coma again." Her voice was calm but Lance understood. "Mind if i go with ya? He said as he took her lighter and lit the cigarrette. "no, but its a closed meeting, unless ya wanna quit drinkin they may put ya out they usually don't though." "Oh, i need to quit my girl is pregnant and i got some stuff to confess that put me in the pin probably for life but i wanna do this by the way, my name is Lance Jacobs, who are you?" Jennifer Palmer wasn't shocked at all by this man or his confessions to her. She had heard the story many times directing men and women to AA she found herself pulling out the big book in braille praying god would give her an answer. "the name is Jenni" she said a smile lighting her face as she took another drag. "look man, whatever ya did you ain't gonna fix it." "I can't fix the girl either. I did ... I raped her, i raped her a dying teen girl kidnapped her and i raped her." the last words came out in a sobbing scream and Jenni knew what to do. "ok, where is she?" "I don't know i was always drunk when i went to the hospital." "Ok, what is her name?" "Autumn Hanson, I screwed up Jenni, I can't live like this her mama is giving our baby to her daddy and his new girl Autumn is dying and i hurt her more than god can ever forgive." "Lance, god forgives all if you except Jesus as your lord and savior. And after the meeting, we are paying the hospital a visit you have to face the people you hurt, help to heal the carnage and try to repair the best you can without hurting others or the girl more." "i can't" he said flatly she will kill me. "no, she won't." Jenni pulled out her cell phone and began to tap in some numbers. "hello, yes i need the room forAutumn Hanson. Yes thank you ma'm yes, have a nice day. "hello, Autumn, listen i am on my way to an AA meeting i have a man here who claims he raped you." Listen, he wants to come by and talk i promise he will not hurt you anymore, I won't let him I am a rape victom myself so i know how you think all men are scum right now. But, he seems willing to make a mends, so i am taking him to a first step meeting and then we will be there if it is all right. All right, see ya then honey." Autumn was shocked, who was this Jenni why had Lance confessed to her, why had Jenni even tried, she decided to nap while they went to there meeting. Lance watched as Jenni got on the bus he followed uncertain what would happen knowing that if he stuck along side Jenni things would somehow fall in to place for him. Jenni wondered how this man did what he did she couldnt help but want to kill him there on sight but knew the lord wouldnt have it. They got off the bus and walked across the street Lance growing more nervous by the step Jenni praying aloud "god see this man through let him find solace in you and love and forgiveness as well in you and Autumn." Jenni opened the dorr and was greeted by the smell of coffee cigarrettes and familiar voices she reached out and took Lance's hand. "you will be fine darlin" she said, walking through the door. "I hope so, I truly hope this works." "It's not going to work unless you make the effort and work it." A man's voice boomed. "heya andy!"Jenni seemed to know the man so Lance found himself trusting the man's words. "Jenni, what ya doin with this man girl he looks dangerous honey." Jenni looked calmly straight in to the man's eyes and stated as if god had spoken the words to her long before. "Ain't no man dangerous who confesses his wrong doings and is willin to pay for them." Lance felt the tears coming then and knew he would be all right if god had his way. They sat down and the meeting started. When it was jenni's turn she totally surprised him by saying "hey, my name is jenni, and i am an alcoholic I tried to lie to myself to my friends and to anyone sayin i was sober when i wasn't damn me if it didnt slap me in the face, it hurt too, I knew i had committed a crime, I knew i wouldn't be here for a good while but i knew that god would look out for me. When andy drove me to that hospital to see that man i had stabbed that man i had tried to kill six months after he raped me, I knew god was there." Lance gasped in horor. "she had tried and killed a man he was shocked. "god was there all right, the man testified that i was trying to turn my life around that i was in treatment for my issues and going to AA to heal the demon of alcoholism. I am next to a man who was in my situation, and pray yall will pray that god will guide us today as i repeat Andy's moves today. There is a teen girl who has cancer, who may not live much longer, and who hates all men, but she sounded almost relieved when i said there was a man who wanted to speak to her." Lance was hurting now, how could this girl know so much? How did she know he was hurting beside her as she took his hand he guessed he had done something she could hear. "with that yall, I will pass." And it was his turn. "My name is Lance, i am an alcoholic, my girl is in a court ordered rehab center the girl i hurt was her daughter she thought it would be fun, I am unsure what to do hiding from the law and prayin. God help me. I hurt that little girl in more ways than the lord will probably forgive but Jenni says if i except jesus he will forgive. I want this I want love, faith, and to be free of this curse called alcohol." "I am so scared." He looked afraid to Andy Schmydt but Andy like many in the room were all ready praying for Lance. "i think i will pass now before i start crying." Jenni stood then and surprised them all by saying in that calm way of hers, "a man is not a man unless he sheds tears like any human in a plight would, oh and it ain't no crime to cry here god knows we all have." Lance let the tears come then as the meeting closed with the Our father. Then they started for the hospital.


Chapter 88: The Flip Side
(by NativeRose, added on 3 May 2008 03:26 AM)


Autumn awoke slowly, but there didn't seem to be anything amiss. She felt so relaxed and at peace. She shifted position to disentangle the IV line, but she didn't open her eyes. She started to fall asleep again, but she heard someone walk in the room. It must be Sariah; maybe she's coming to reinsert the IV, although I don't remember pulling it. She was satisfied with this probable explanation and started to drift off again.
"Autumn?" It was a female voice, but Autumn didn't recognize it. She sighed and slowly opened her eyes. The first thing she saw made her squeeze her eyes shut and turn her face toward the wall beside her bed. She wished she could roll over, for she wanted to dismiss the sight completely.
"I'm Jenny," the girl said again. It sounded like she was moving toward the bed, but she had some sort of noisy thing with which she seemed to tap a constant rhythm.
"Cut it out! Get rid of that blasted...incessant noise!" she grumbled, burying her face in her pillow.
"Maybe we should go," a male said, and the uncertainty in his voice was clear. Still, that uncertainty didn't stop the memories. They played over and over in her mind.
"Get out of here! Haven't you tormented me enough? And now you show up here, as if I can't remember! I think about it and you countless times every day. Why did you have to come just to completely make my life a living hell? You canjust ...go to blazes!"
This was not the gentle girl Lynn had described and that Lance had observed in the beginning. He alone was responsible for this! Jamison rushed into the room, turning to give Lance a murderous look.
"What in the...that is, what the heck are you doing here?" he asked quietly, but his voice was filled with anger.
"Actually, I just wanted to apologize for the--"
"You'll get out of here if you know what's good for you!"
"I know you can't believe me, but I truly--"
"This is your last warning, boy!" Jamison was still speaking quietly, but his voice was heavy with murderous rage. And why not? Lance had hurt his girl, and that Perkins kid was loyal to her. Of course he would do anything for her, and that meant he wouldn't hesitate to beat the crap out of the monster who had caused her so much pain.

Jamison didn't miss the relief displayed on Autumn's face when he spoke for the first time. It was at the sound of his voice that she turned away from the wall. Jamison had known from the beginning that her harsh words were for that monster. Still, it helped him to get a glimpse of that trust and maybe love she still held for only him.
"Will you please just give Lance an opportunity to speak?" That was right; Jamison had forgotten about the unfamiliar girl who stood beside Lance. Now he looked at her and responded to her question, "That's Autumn's decision, but I will not hesitate to get you out of here at the first indication of something uncalled for."
"Okay, I guess," she whispered in a tremulous voice. She extended her hand to Jamison, who reached her bed in no time at all.

Lance took a deep breath. He knew he wanted to make things right, as much as he could, anyway. This was going to be harder than he had ever imagined.
"Autumn, I know this seems so cheap--"
"What in God's name are you doing here, boy?" Lance almost left his feet when Jason's voice boomed from behind him. Jamison almost laughed out loud when that freak's face changed from uncertainty to confidence and utter fear within a matter of five seconds! There was something about seeing that man get his--
"What do you think you're doing here? Get out...this instant!" Jason lowered his voice just a little; it was more of a intense growl than a thunderous shout. They all turned to look at Lance to see what he would do. Jamison turnbed back to Autumn just as quickly when he noted tears. At this moment, Jamison was thankful for his 6/5 height. From his position in relation to Autumn, he could block her view of the entire hideous scene.
"I just can't stand this anymore!" she sobbed. Jamison put his arms around her, careful not to dislodge any equipment. Autumn would never tell anyone, but she desperately needed that touch. She felt secure in his strong, gentle embrace. Jamison would serve two purposes: to be her support in whatever she needed and to shield her, both physically and emotionally (if he could, that is). He wished he could take on her pain and infuse his love into her at the same time. There Jamison stood, holding the person who meant everything to him as Lance began his explanation. Even Jason was finally willing to let him explain, as long as Lance didn't move from his spot near the door.
"I was so screwed up for so long. It started long 'fore I met your mama. I been drinkin' since I was just a boy...maybe eleven years old. My daddy always said it would solve the problems in life. It made him forget. That's just what I learnt to do. He was right about it making you forget, but there's something he didn't say. He ain't never tol' me it would screw me up. My daddy didn't work, not like none of my friends' daddies. So Mama had men...and Daddy didn't never know 'cuz he's always mighty drunk. Mama had a baby who weren't my sister. Well, I mean, well...Mama and someone knew they's gonna be trouble, 'cuz that baby weren't my daddy's at all. So you know what Daddy did?" Lance looked around the room and saw the same expression on everyone's faces: shock. He thought Autumn looked rather silly there enveloped in Jamison's embrace with her head on his shoulder, her mouth hanging open. He forced his attention back to the problem at hand.
"So, when my daddy was sober 'nuf to finally see straight, he killt that baby girl. And he made me look. After he done it, he said to me, 'I gonna teach ya a lesson, boy, so you listen good. That baby don't deserve to live, an' ya know why? It weren't mine, so that mean yo' mama screwing 'round. She say that how she puts food on the table since I ain't workin'. Well, boy, I don't care what she do, 'cuz women ain't no good for nothin' 'ceptin' for good times. Still, I don't want no darn baby, 'specially a useless girl. Now you listen here, boy. You have the pretty gals, but you ain't never gonna marry one. They's nothin' but trouble, but like I said, take 'em, the pretty gals. And whatever ya do, don't let 'em complicate matters by givin' ya a baby! Ya hear what I's been sayin', boy?' I sure felt good after that, 'cuz there weren't never no more times he talked to me friendly-like. And that's how I got all mixed up in this here thing. I know it ain't no excuse, but maybe ya can understan' why I done those things. No one since my mama love me...I convince myself that your mama, Autumn, loved me, an' I just had to keep her. So that be why I done it." The room was completely silent as the others worked to digest this information.
"It makes sense, but that doesn't make it right. God intended for us to treasure, love and protect our women...and I mean the words "our women" as just that...they aren't slaves; they are people," Jamison said, not releasing Autumn.
"I ain't proud of what I done," Lance mumbled, seemingly terribly intrigued with the dust molecules on his shoes. "I know I don't 'zerve yo' forgiveness, but I's askin' for it anyways."
Autumn lifted her head to look toward the man who had destroyed all that made her woman. As she did this, Jamison saw the pleading look in her eyes, and he did not let go; he tightened his hold for emphasis.
"I will forgive you, but there is no way I can do that right now. I trust four men, and I'm still nervous around them. It seems God has given them a special measure of compassion, because they never get angry with me."
"That would be terribly insensetive and quite unthinkable!" These were Jason's first words since his initial exclamation.
"Yeah," Jamison elaborated, "it's not the Autumn I know; the same beautiful young woman lies beneath what that monstrocity shaped. It's not like you woke up one morning and decided all men are evil villains. I see your tears, rage and despair, but I still see the gentle, compassionate girl all the time...the love of my life."
Autumn was encouraged by this; her friends knew she was not acting out of spite; it was just her overwhelming fear. Even Josiah seemed to understand, and he was extremely patient and gentle when she allowed him to treat her. She thanked God for her friends and family. There were still good things to come. Josiah and Sariah would marry, and Jason and Abbie would do the same. Jason and Abbie would have a new baby and would raise him or her as their own, shaped by God's love. As Jamison helped reposition her for a much-needed nap, she asked God to help her forgive Lance. But she prayed no longer, for she had fallen asleep, only aware of the touch of the man she loved with all her heart.


Chapter 89: Sweet Revenge
(by NativeRose, added on 14 May 2008 07:49 PM)


Lynn couldn't believe what Lance was saying. He said he thought she loved him? Well, what made him doubt now? He stood there, telling all those Jesus lunatics about his childhood, but why did he think Autumn deserved an explanation? He actually seemed contrite, using the excuse that was what he was taught to do, and then there was that whole thing about how he wanted Lynn's love. Whatever gave him that idea? Lynn stood in Autumn's bathroom, dressed in scrubs...just in case someone should find her. Lynn sat in the shower chair and pulled the curtain tightly closed. That way, anyone who looked toward the bathroom or entered to do his or her thing, she would not be noticed. She strained to hear what Autumn said, and she couldn't believe what the girl said! She just couldn't believe it! She said she'd forgive him, but not right away...as if Lance had done anything wrong! That girl had revealed the truth to all those people. She had successfully fooled all the hospital staff; after all, Lynn had been playing this game for years. Now it was refined to perfection. Autumn deserved what Lance had done, but how did they find out that Lynn was his accomplice? Autumn was too ill and wasn't in a proper emotional state to tell them anything. Each time Lynn saw Autumn's anguished expression and heard Autumn's angry torrent of words, she knew she could finally control something. When Lynn saw and heard Autumn cry, she experienced a power she had never known before. Now Autumn had an idea of what Lynn was going through. After all, the girl had ruined Lynn's perfect facade and revealed what they all saw as ugly. What did they know? How could they ever understand? If the story Lance told softened their hearts, maybe she could do the same. She could spin a tale of such horrendous proportion that they would never see her as a wayward child in an adult body. But first, she needed to basque in her self-made power; she wanted Autumn to suffer, because she had ruined Lynn's life....from the beginning. Autumn needed to feel the pain of rejection and abandonment; she deserved what she got. Lynn would do her best to make Autumn's support system crumble, just as Autumn had done to Lynn. That she would do this to her own mother!...
Lynn couldn't wait to see what Autumn would do. She could almost taste her desire for vengance, and revenge was certainly much more than sweet!


Chapter 90: The Road May Change
(by NativeRose, added on 16 May 2008 06:23 PM)


"I can't trust you now, but I never did. I have no idea what will happen, but I sure don't want to have a thing to do with you at this point."
"Well," Jenny started to say, "you said you'll forgive him at some time, but you don't have much time left." It was clear that Jenny was offended, not for herself, but for her new friend.
"Autumn," that was the gentle voice of one of her male friends. Jenny still didn't have all the names straight. She heard that person walk toward Autumn's bed, but he didn't say anything more, so she had no idea what was happening.
"Well, just look at that--more insensetivity!" That was one of the nurses, and Jenny heard yet a third person gasp.
"It's not like she needs a reminder; she lives with it every day, you know." That was a man, and Jenny could tell that he had turned to face her. The next sound she heard was some sort of motor; it must have been something with the bed. At the same time, someone walked past Jenny and went toward the bed.
"You might need these," the girl said.
"What?" said the male who must have been sitting on the bed. "the box of tissues." she finished.
Oh yeah, I guess if I had been looking at you, I would have known." The boy's voice was still tense, but Jenny heard a trace of a smile. All at once, the series of sounds came together to create the whole scene. Oh no, she thought, sometimes my mouth still gets me in trouble. I have been working so hard with my therapist to work on my communication skills: thinking before I speak, finding words to build up instead of tear down, a tone of voice that is conversation level, rather than a bark. I can't believe I screwed up again, she prayed. Oh God, I just don't know if I can make this one right, but I'll try. Give me the words to say and the wisdom to know how to do this.
"I'm sorry," Jenny said, seeming contrite. "that was insensetive, and I forget that you're doing the best you can." Her tone was rather gentle, as compared to before, and she sounded sincere. Why am I so emotional? Autumn wondered. I I mean, why does everything make me cry? I feel so foolish for displaying such things. Why can I not ignore the barbs and focus only on my friends? Jamison says he still sees the person underneath all this, but I feel completely ugly inside and out...and some of these people just confirm that.

As Abbie and Sariah walked down the corridor, they talked about the unfoldingn drama in Autumn's room.
"I couldn't believe it when you spoke to Jenny in such a sarcastic manner, Sariah," Abbie began, "I mean, I've never heard you speak like that in my life!"
"Do you judge me for that?" Sariah asked quietly.
"No, and I'm surprised you haven't exploded before this, and your response to the events today were nothing likke an explosion!"
"I just can't stand to see this. I don't know what to do, but sometimes I feel like I can kill them all--Lance, Lynn, Jenny, although she did seem to be sincere."
"You know, Sariah..." Abbie's voice trailed off as they passed some other nurses, aides and doctors. "I have a suggestion, but that can come later."
Sariah was quite intrigued, and she didn't want to wait for this idea. Still, Abbie was right not to discuss such things right then. Sariah knew that several people had Autumn's best interests at heart--Jason, Abbie, me...Jamison, Nancy, Marla---maybe we should all meet to discuss this thing. Perhaps I'll set up a meeting, because they will all have some input.


Chapter 91: Confession and Confusion
(by NativeRose, added on 17 May 2008 09:32 PM)


Lynne had received permission to leave the center for five hours. She had to tell rehab staff exactly where she was going and how long she would be there. She also had to check in with rehab several times: when she got to her destination, at least once during the excursion and when she going back to the center. Despite all of the strict rules, Lynne knew how to play this game, and she could do that well.

Lynne went into Autumn's hospital room where she feigned tears. Her face was hidden behind the paper she had in her hand.
"What's wrong?" Jason fairly barked at her.
?I just found out that..." she took a deep, shuddering breath to cover her blunder. She forgot what she was going to say! As she sighed, she formed other words. "I just found out that my parents adopted me. My biological mother notified me of..." she took another deep breath, just for affect. "Well, my biological father has the same type of cancer that you do, Autumn! I never knew him, and now he's dying! They are giving him three months to live. You see, I was taken from my parents when I was two, so of course I don't remember this. Apparently, they were all into drugs. That's how it started with me. I saw them using illegal substances for a long time; their teachings got me into this mess. My foster family did the same things: drug use, abuse, inappropriate sexual activities. That's the only reason I got into this. They kicked me out when they found out I was pregnant at fourteen. I had no place to go, so I started hanging out with a gang. At least they were loyal. Maybe you can better understand why I am this way." She stopped talking so they could digest this. Perhaps now they would let her back in. Well, it was no matter; Lynne would find the most appropriate form of sabotage. She waited anxiously, before someone spoke...


Chapter 92: The Answer Questionn
(by NativeRose, added on 26 May 2008 12:41 AM)


"Which story is true: the one you told me or the one you just shared with us?" What? Lynn hadn't expected that kind of a question.
"what are you talking about?" she asked in a shaky voice. They all thought the wavering voice was because she was on the verge of crying again, but it was truly fear that consumed her. What would they do? They can't do anything, she thought, hiding her smug expression behind the papers in her hand.
"Well, you told me you grew up in a Christian home, but you were tired of listening to their silly rules. You said you struck out on your own at seventeen, when we got together...before Autumn was born. So which one is true?"
"I...Well...this is all just to smear my reputation! You know what really happened, Jason!
"Oh, give me a life!" Jamison said, marching toward Lynn.
"Jason! How could you do that to me? How could you accuse me of lying? And where the heck did you spin a fairy like the one you shared today? you said I lived in a Christian home, and I just wanted to free? What nonsensical crap is that? You're turning them all away. You will not even me allow to stand beside my daughter as she dies!" She feigned tears again, but Jamison ripped her paper "mask" away and saw the real malicious gleam in her eyes.
"You know what, lady?" Jamison began in a menacing whisper, "You're the one who has created this entire mess. Do not drag Jason and Autumn into this! She's having enough trouble already. Did you need to inject your own needles into her...as if she doesn't have enough of her own! You don't deserve the privelege of walking with her through this life!" He mouthed this last sentence, so Lynn was the only one who knew what he said. Jamison didn't want anyone to hear his harsh declaration. All the nurses could handle it, and Autumn probably could, too, but he'd rather not find out. She was going through enough stuff already. Jamison believed his statements made in righteous anger were not sinful; would God not want us to protect His child? Would He not want us to shield her and then carry out of this life, where He would receive her? Because Lynn was the only person who saw this last statement, her next words were a surprise for all others.
"No! You can't take her away! I'm her mother, and you will not refuse me!"
"What?" several people asked.
"I gave her life, and you would deny me the privelege of going through until she dies?"
"Shut up! I'm starting to feel like a toy!"
"But I didn't--" Lynn began.
"Shut your blasted mouth, lady! I don't want you to go with me until I'm done. Otherwise, I'll have the nightmare with me until I die, and I want peace! Do you even know what that is?"
"I am still your mother!"
"To heck with you, lady! You're nothing to me! sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if I was never born." Where did that statement come from?
"Yes, well, there were, and still are, many times I wish I had had an abortion. If I had known I'd be in this mess with everyone here, I surely would have done that!" She delighted in seeing the stricken expressions and hearing the surprised gasps. Then she saw the tears in Autumn's eyes. Despite what Autumn said, Lynn could still reach her. Although she said she didn't care about Lynn and whatever she did, but Lynn could see that was not true. Well, let her live with that to comfort her on her road to death.


Chapter 93: the end of Lin
(by emma , added on 26 May 2008 09:02 PM)


Just as Lin was thinking these four security guards came in and picked up Lin and started to carry her out of autumn’s room. As Lin was getting carried away she screamed at autumn “I will be back for you autumn!!!” When she had left the ward autumn burst in to tears of fear. Jamison, Sariah, Abbie and Jason went up to autumn’s bed and tried to comfort her. But it was no good.

As Lin was walking back to the rehab centre she was plotting in her mind what she was going to do to autumn to make her last few months a living hell. But as she was crossing the road just outside the rehab centre Lin tripped over. As she lay on the road a car came and ran her over. When the ambulance turned up Lin was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver in the car was never found.

Jamison, Sariah, Abbie and Jason stayed for a few hours before they had to get home for some sleep. Just before Sariah and Abbie went off shift they brought Nancy and Marla up to date on what had happened that day. Autumn could not sleep what with the fret that her mother had made. She jumped at every noise. But she must have dosed off because the next thing that she could remember was Abbie shaking her awake for her morning medication. Abbie had a grate big grin on her face. “Good morning autumn how are you feeling this morning? I have some good news for you.” Autumn looked up at abbbie and asked “what is the good news. “Just wait a minute!!” Just then Jamison, Sariah and Jason came in to the room with big smiles on their faces. “Your mother has dyed autumn she was on her way back to the rehab centre when she got run over” said Jason giving his daughter a grate big hug. Autumn jumped out of bed and gave her dad a hug. “You are telling me the truth rant you” all four of them nodded at her and grinned. .


Chapter 94: the Inevitable Struggle
(by NativeRose, added on 2 June 2008 03:06 AM)


The adrenalin that propelled Autumn out of bed was soon gone, and her body protested the sudden, quick movement. Her legs gave way beneath her, but Jamison and Sariah reached out in time to prevent her fall. As they lifted her and positioned her back in bed, Josiah entered. However, he was not alone.
"Jason, Jamison and Autumn" Josiah began, "I just found out what happened, so I called the hospital chaplain. Meet Kyle Corbin. His wife, Judith , accompanied him this morning."
"What?" Autumn questioned, "but it's 5:30 in the morning. They just came to do vitals, and I know that's at 5:30! You didn't have..." Autumn's words faded into oblivion as the chaplain walked toward her bed.
"This is what I'm here for, Autumn," he reassured.
"There is one thing that really bothers me," Autumn began hesitantly. "and I'll never know the answer...or maybe I already do...but the actions don't seem to...still, could she have...in her last moments?"
"What are you talking about?" several people inquired.
"Well, my mom wasn't a believer...at least, I don't think so. I don't know her heart standing with God, and I think that will haunt me for the rest of my life."
"Unfortunately, that is never an easy thing, because it doesn't have a definite answer. You won't know here."
"I know, Kyle. It just fills me with dread!"
Autumn glanced up to see her father filling out her menu for the day. She always ordered the same food for breakfast, so he knew what items to check.
"What do you want to eat for lunch?" he asked, as she looked toward him.
"Oh, I don't care!" she snapped.
"Should I check the--"
"I don't want food!"
"You do have to eat, even though you may not want to," Sariah gently reminded her.

"You're right...sorry, Dad...I just can't believe this! to answer your question...um, check a hamburger patty with cheese, mac and cheese, jello, angel food cake and...milk. And for tonight..." her voice trailed off...or at least Josiah could no longer hear her instructions as he left the room.

"We're switching shifts, Autumn. You know how this works." That was Abbie, and she explained further, "Josiah just came on, so you'll work with him today. Marla is here for the day, and your nurse's aide is Chandra." As if on cue, both women entered Autumn's room.
"Josiah just told us what happened," Carrie, the charge nurse, said as she entered behind the other two women.
"We just wanted to let you know that we're praying for you, and we will check on you in between rounds as well," Chandra said.
The aides and nurses exited, and they were clistered at the nurses' station to update those who were just arriving about the condition of each patient.
As they exited, another group of people entered, this time in the form of the Corbin daughters.
"We read your note as we were getting ready to go to the gym," sixteen-year-old Katelyn explained, in response to her parents' surprised expressions.
"Yeah, we decided to skip the gym to come justt to be with you, Autumn," Katelyn's twin sister, Kambra, said.
"Thank you," Autumn managed to say through trembling lips. She couldn't believe how God had blessed her. Although Lynn had made her life so miserable, it was still awful to think of her death. Her heart was breaking a little at a time as she realized her mom might be separated spiritually...forever!
"I know what you're going through," said Kendall, the youngest Corbin daughter, said quietly. Kendall did indeed know how Autumn felt. Kyle and Judith had adopted her at age five, when her parents died in a car accident. Kendall was now fourteen, but she could still remember the pain and sometimes even experienced the sense of loss all over again. There was one difference, however. She had started out life in a Christ-centered home, and she knew she would see her parents again. She had that hope, and she noted that it was vacant in the older girl's eyes. She understood why Autumn was extremely troubled about her mother's spiritual condition. Her heart went out to Autumn, who had experienced her share of troubles in her life...well, more than her share of struggles. Not only was Lynn gone, so was the baby she had been carrying. But the baby was lost in a most startling way, as they would come to discover later, with the appearance of a familiar man.

ance slowly trudged down the corridor, staring at the ground. Thus, he didn't see the nurse approaching, and ran into her, making her drop the charts in her hand.
"I's sorry, Miz Marla," Lance said, looking into the eyes of Marla, who, realizing who the man was, fixed a cold gaze upon him, .
"I'm sorry," he said again, "I wasn't lookin'."
"You were surely not looking. What are you doing here?" Lance knew he deserved the cold stare and the questions, but mostly the tone that suggested she didn't trust him at all. "I came to see Autumn. I, uh, done heard what happened to...to...well, to, um, Lynn."
"you have ten minutes, and I will tollerate no disrespect."
"I ain't never gonna cause More pain for that precious child...I be knowin' better than anyone what that there girl done gone through...." his voice trailed off as the things he had done and the things Lynn described flashed through his mind like a slide show in his nightmares. Lance tentatively entered, not sure what to do or say first.
"Stop right there!" Jason commanded. Jamison rushed to stand beside Autumn to provide support and a physical barrier if that was necessary. Lance looked down at the floor, with the shame apparent in his eyes. He completely understood their words and actions. He knew he fully deserved these things, and it would take a long time for him to obtain their trust. He had disturbing news to report. He didn't want to do that, since they were already going through a lot.
"I's ain't here to cause no trouble," Lance quickly assured the group. "but I sure do got somethin'...somethin' to, um, well...somethin' to tell y'all." Lance finished in a rush.
"What is it?" Autumn asked suddenly.
"Well, that their baby...she done lost the baby a'fore the accident," he began hesitantly.
"Is Abbie still here?" some lady interrupted.
"Perhaps you should go see if you can find her," the man beside her said.
Judith rushed out of the room, instinctively knowing Abbie would have to be there for this news. She knew of the plan to adopt Lynn's baby, so it was only right that she be present. Besides, if she wasn't there, someone would have to give her the news later, and they were going through enough already.
"Oh, thank God!" Judith exclaimed as she saw Abbie.
"You have to come right away!" she said urgently when the younger woman looked up.
When they returned to Autumn's room, Lance began again.
"Your mama lost the baby a'fore she died, Autumn," Lance stopped, not sure of how to proceed. Finally, he took a deep breath and continued, "She miscarried. She didn't listen to that doctor who tole her to stop drinkin' and I figure that how she lost the baby. She sure didn't care. She done said she's actually relieved. She never wanted to carry no more babies to term and go thru' all that nonsense jus' to give that their baby to someone else or somethin'."
"Do you think she did it on purpose?" Jason asked flatly.
"Don't rightly know. I could tell she's r'lieved, 'cuz she's smilin' when she done tole' me she miscarried 'er somethin'. Then she said there's no reason she couldn't start that drinkin' again. She ain't have no baby to fuss over no mo'. Thar's no reason to worry 'bout what that doctor done say no more. Cuz she ain't got the baby no more, anyways, so's it couldn't hurt nobody anymo'. That's what she done said, anyways." Lance realized he was rambling, and he knew it was just an attempt to put off the inevitable moment. What would happen next?


Chapter 95: Lance exposes more
(by jennifer palmer, added on 21 June 2008 03:06 PM)


Lance found himself wondering what the world would think of his next statement Jenni had told him whatever he did to do something good and he knew this would be tough but decided it was worth it, his life had never been easy but he knew he had to make amends and work to put the pieces he had shattered back in place. "I done decided to go back to school I gotta go get my GED I dropped out of school in eighth grade I know my intelegence shows when i talk more like the lack of it. I am such a mess. I gotta get my stuff together. But, i need some help." Jason looked at the man standing there such shame in his eyes knowing how he felt for the most part, he knew what feeling hopeless felt like. "hmmm, I guess i could help" this was from Autumn who sat up with much difficulty. "No, you need to rest I can find help Jenni knows some people i just need prayer that i don't return back down the path i have walked for twenty years. Ya know, I had a daughter I decided driving drunk was absolutely wonderful well, I hit a utility pole she is now in a nursing home unable to feed herself and i was told i was no father to her but i miss her, god do i miss her." Lance felt tears in his eyes his little girl Anna was his life before that night and after he remembered all the times he had tried to drink her off his mind and couldn't.Suddenly his cell phone rang. He knew that it was probably Jenni, she had added him on her plan not too long ago "ya feel like drinking, or using, you call me. those words had meant the world to him he had never had anyone offer to help him in his life. Lance glanced at the caller id, "who the???" He didnt realyze he had spoken aloud until jason glanced at him. "hello, what??? Yes this is lance, how can i assist you??? What Anna! What about her i was told i could... Um where??? I am there actually, what floor??? Oh lord... Ok, i am on my way where is her mother?? What walked out! Ok, on my way in a few minutes tell her Dad is on his way..." Lance stared at the phone who was that woman why had she called and who had given her the number??? all these thoughts ran through his mind as he glanced at Autumn with a smile. "Speaking of Anna, she is here, and her mom walked out on her, amazingly, she wants me... Wow how did they find me??? Oh well, i gotta go see her." "Lance hey come back when ya get a chance ok??" Autumn found herself speaking without thought, "oh and yes i will pray for you. ya got the number up here call if ya need anything if i can help i will." Lance looked greatful and shocked at the same time. "all right, i will hun be safe and just know Lynne felt no pain when she went and i certainly hope she found Jesus before hand." Lance walaked down the hall Marla looked at him there was a look in the man's eyes she found concerning but didnt stop him as he ran in to an open elavator. "seven" he said calmly the person in the elavator with him hit the button and he found himself praying. "god I know i have been lost, Please forgive me the sins i have committed, give me the strength to do what i must for anna and show me your love and courage.." He felt at peace as seven flashed on the consol, he ran out found the room and looked down at his sleeping Anna. "anna, hey honey it's me, I am here, It's all right." His voice broke on the last statement and he found himself crying. "daddy?" The voice was frail and not at all his little girl. "yeah honey?" "Why did you leave me??? Why did you keep drinking?? And who is Autumn???" "oh lord honey daddy hurt Autumn bad, I did stuff i really shouldnt of, I did so much harm I hope i can just be forgiven..." "Believe me you are," she sounded sure of herself. "I left cause i knew i had screwed up badly and also your mother told me to stay away. that i was worthless as a father. I kept drinking to erace the memory of that night they told me you would never recover. and from the looks of things they were right..." "no, no daddy, i did recover for the most part, I can move my arms, the only thing is i cant walk and i can't see in one eye but hey thats not so bad, I will survive I got that from my father.. You are not worthless or you wouldnt be here." Her voice sounded stronger but she looked weak. "honey what's wrong???" He found himself asking. "I have to have some stuff done on my good eye, gotta get somethin fixed and some plastic surgery to fix some stuff. but I will be fine. Daddy, will you be here will you be here when i wake up???" "Yeah," Lance had tears in his voice but he found himself reaching out for his daughter's hand. "of course I will." He smiled inwardly knowing some stuff was working out.


Chapter 96: Postponement of True Meeting
(by NativeRose, added on 30 June 2008 06:23 AM)


Lance had just gone to the cafeteria, and Anna shifted in her bed so she could get a nap in. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, that was not to be. Anna turned away from the wall when she heard something rubber squeaking across her floor. She faced a young nurse pushing a girl in a wheelchair and pulling an IV stand along with her. Lance must have just gone to grab a cup of coffee. He returned just as the nurse explained their presence.
"I'm Sariah, and--"
"Autumn!" Lance exclaimed. The girl turned as much as she could and greeted him coolly. "Lance," was all she said. She seems withdrawn, he thought. She had been more friendly of late, but things were different this time.
"Maybe...maybe," Lance began hesitantly.
"What?" Sariah asked.
"Maybe this isn't the best time..."
"No, that's okay. Sariah worked hard to get me up here, and I won't waste her efforts. Sariah gently touched her shoulders and rubbed her back to help disperse the agitation. She understood what was going on, because Autumn had told her what happened the night before.
"Well then...Autumn, this is my daughter Anna."
"I'm in for eye surgery...so yeah, this is the surgical unit. What are you here for?"
"I'm on the fourth floor, the oncology ward."
"The what?"
"Cancer!" Autumn snapped.
Anna, unabashed continued, "So how did you and my dad meet?"
"Um, I'll tell you later, honey," Lance interjected quickly. He saw the pain in her eyes and didn't want to make her go through any more than she needed to. Something was terribly wrong, and he didn't want to make things worse.
"It's time to get you back to fourth anyway, Autumn," Sariah mercifully broke in. "we can come back another time." she finished.
Lance followed them out of the room, but when they turned a corner, he stopped them with a hand. I'm sorry," he said, "she's never been tactful and just blurts out whatever comes to mind. I don't know what's going on, but I'm willing to help if I can." How could Autumn possibly explain it to him?
"No, I'm getting tired, so I think I need to go back to my room--"
"Can I come visit you later?" Lance broke in.
"Yeah, but can you call first?" He offered a reassuring smile and turned back toward Anna's room.

"I hate flashbacks!" Autumn's tears accompanied her anguished cries. "and then just seeing him there...the spector of the monster in my dreams and flashbacks...I just can't stand it anymore!" She continued to sob as Sariah pushed her back to her room. Everyone on the oncology floor knew Autumn, and she didn't care that they saw her crying. It was embarrassing because she was hysterical, but at the same time, she didn't care what they thought. She just had to get it out. Maybe she could try to talk to Anna again, but she would wait for a time when she was feeling normal, whatever that was anymore.


Chapter 97: Progression and Yet Regression
(by jennifer palmer, added on 22 September 2008 07:31 AM)


Jenni stood in the bathroom, Lance sat at her computer trying to get the application in for college. He had gotten his GED and was really trying to make progress. "Hey jenni? I need a hand" "ok," she called back putting the last touches on her hair. He was seemingly puzzled by something. "What's up? "I am trying to decide what field i want to go in too. I cant get my mind off of psychology and substance abuse and mental health." She stared at him, "what about all three?" He thought would a college allow it? Could he endure the hard work involved on being certified? "Yeah, there is a mental health services degree." "there is?" "yeah, Jenni looked shocked. I didnt know until i looked." She said this with calm trying to find her glass of water to take her morning ills. "what does it give you? "not too sure, she said taking her pills then contenuing. I think you could become a csw or something.
Really? He seemed to be shocked. Would they let me with the court possibly pending? I am not sure, have you heard anything on that? "no. I haven't and that worries me.
Jenni felt ill. She had been feeling up and down lately and wasnt looking forward to what her mind told her was coming. She was diagnosed bipolar with borderline personality disorder at fourteen but hated the illness now more than ever. Her mom had denied it at seventeen removing her from her medications screaming at her she was an addict. "Well, she said. I gotta run to school.
She didnt want to have him see her like this. She felt the physical symptoms of depression more than the mental stuff that usually accompanied it. She walked out down the hall hit the elevator and went downstairs. She hoped it was just her synthroid needing adjusted she certainly didnt need this shit now. She walked to the bus stop and waited she found herself going through her schedule with her normal sometimes pasted on smile.Then there was no denying it as the thought "what if i found a gun and just ended it" entered her mind. She seemed to know that Autumn might know what to do she pulled out her cell. "hey its jenni. I for some reason have lapsed in to depression and don't know what to do right now/. I am going over to Oakwood. Autumn knew of the place it was a psychiatric center that seemed to specialize in bipolar disorder and borderline. Will Lance stay at your place? She asked concern in her voice. Yeah, he is staying there i dont know how to explain it to him. Well, give me a call when you know what's going to happen Autumn said her voice sounding worried. You get some sleep I will give ya a call. Jenni hung up and walked through Oakwood's doors. She had never been here. But had heard that the place was good. "Can I help you a lady asked calmly. "yeah, My name is Jennifer Palmer. I am going through St. Lukes hospital behavioral health and am lapsing from mania to depression and back to mania. Having the alcoholism and borderline doesnt help either. Thing is, i am in college."ah the lady replied do you feel a danger to yourself? Yeah, I thought of getting a gun and just ending it. Jenni felt the tears, but the fucked up thing is, that i want to live! "I know dear. I know.
Jenni was taken to an adult unit and felt horrible as they orientated her to the unit did the stupid fall precossion procedures and told her that her blindness which she had for the past 22 years could cause her to fall so they must watch her at all times. Jenni glared. "Excuse me! But, i have been blind for 22 years since when do i need a baby sitter to take a bath or a crap? Miss Palmer-- No dont miss palmer me. I will tell you right now that i Miss Jennifer G Palmer do not need a baby sitter! She waled away and went for the coffee. She poured and doctored her cup then sat down. Hey, a woman said. I have a sister ho is blind sad thing, she works on the other unit downstairs. Wow, I think i could of told them off better Jenni said. "Nope, Amanda would of done the same I am going to give her a call and let her know what is going on up here. I am Angel by the way. "Jenni" Jenni replied then where is the phone? I need to call a friend he is staying at my house till he gets on his feet and needs to know where i am at. Jenni walked to the phone after Angel gave her the directions she dialed and heard lance's voice on the line "Lance, i have regressed. I am at oakwood will be a few days, can ya bring me some clothes and let Autumn know i am all right? "yeah, i can do that, dont see it as a regression, see it as a helping experience. I will see about them letting you have your stuff to study. mainly your stream so you can keep up on the reading at least. Yeah, Jenni said that means they can recharge it in the nurse's station and what not.
Lance hung up He made his way down to Oakwood and found himself staring at some of the more medicated patients. One man kept calling him Andy and kept asking him when Daddy was coming home. Another kept screaming and trying to hit people and then he saw jenni she walked up to the screaming man as nurses were saying Jenni, he is swinging on people... Jenni grabbed the man held his hands and said as if she saw this sort of crap everyday "What the hell is wrong with you..." The man stopped. "nothing bitch he replied. "the name is jenni she said, not bitch.
"sorry miss he said. dont know what came over me the voices just rule sometimes. Did ya cheek your meds or some shit Jenni asked calmly
"yeah he admitted. "hmm and you want to go home and get better but not take the steps you must to improve? Sucks to be you she said walking away "oh and thanks for the migrane she said.
Lance watched all of this mild admiration in his eyes. Jenni seemed to know what to say and when to say it. he saw the nurse looking on at jenni not at all shocked. She is a good kid he asured the nurse she just sometimes speaks her mind and performs actions that are a little odd. No, the nurse said she did what my sis amanda would of done. and angel over there has a sis namedAmanda too. my sister is deaf and hers is blind like jenni. Angel smiled. I know this isnt right but hey can yal let her have this? He handed the woman Jenni's stream which she had just gotten to read her school books. It only needs recharging every fifteen hours or so after playing that long, and takes four hours. Could yall charge it when she is in group and let her read her text books on free time? "yeah, if her doc says its all right. I hope so the thing s we dont need her behind in school. Dr. anderson walked on to the unit he stared at the man standing with the charger to a stream audio reader in his hand. "who needs the stream he asked calmly "miss Palmer the nurse said "give it to her she was woman enough to come in here and ask for help I seriously doubt she would hurt herself but yes, we will charge it when she isnt using it in the office. She wouldnt even keep her cane for fear of the other patients using it as a weapon he added calmly what makes you think she would allow us to give out harmfull stuff that they could pick up. Jenni stared at Dr. Anderson he was wise and cool all in one it was awesome she could even understand and prounce his name this place was awesome!


Chapter 98: Slow Revelation
(by NativeRose, added on 12 October 2008 04:29 PM)


Jen dialed the hospital with trembling fingers. Whatever would the girl think if Jen told her everything?
"Oh, um, this is Autumn's room?" she was startled when she heard a different voice. It sounded oddly like that of Lance.
"Jenni?" the voice continued.
"What are--"
"Anna is going to be released today, and she wanted to try to talk to Autumn again. I just thank God that she's going home...and especially that she...she...has forgiven me. Thank God she has recovered some."
"Yes. It looks like I'll be at Oakwood for some time, at least three months. I'm just so ashamed! Things were going well, and I can't believe I just slipped back into this again. I guess it started when..."
"When what?" Lance gently prodded.
"Oh nothing!) Jenni snapped. "

Hannalaura Whitedove, Jenni's nurse, entered to find the girl sobbing. The immediate connection that had developed between the two women prompted Jenni to tell Hannalaura what was on her heart.
"You know the thing with Lance and Lynn? It just reminded me of...and tomorow is the anniversary..." Her voice trailed off, but her nurse sat patiently waiting for her to continue.
"I'm a killer! I had an abortion three years ago!" The words spilled from Jenni's mouth as she crumbled under the weight of her grief yet again. Hannalaura could relate, as she had done the same when she was sixteen, and she'd never forget it. She was healing from that experience emotionally and spiritually only through her relationship with Jesus Christ.
"I know, it's something you never forget," Hannalaura quietly responded.
"Help!" Jenni cried as she plunged to her knees before this gentle woman.
"I will help you, Jennifer," she promised, "and your therapist is a lady who has also experienced the same. She will also help you, and she won't judge you."

Natalia awaited the arrival of her latest patient, Jennifer Palmer. Hanalaura had already told Natalia of one of Jenni's struggles. She had obtained permission from Jenni before she told Natalia she'd need to help her get through an abortion experience. This is partially why I entered this field, Natalia thought, as she moved toward the door to welcome Jenni. God, give her comfort.


Chapter 99: A Day At Oakwood
(by jennifer palmer, added on 30 October 2008 04:46 AM)


Jenni woke early people standing by her bed light on burning the sleep from her eyes. "Miss Palmer, we are here to draw blood." Jenni hated this but knew it was a necessary evil of anywhere related to psychiatric treatment She glared but revealed her better for blood drawing arm her right. "Right" she said blandly. They stuck the needle in to her arm at least six times before getting enough blood. She then got up ran out in to the hall found towels and asked the night nurse who didnt get off till almost eight for stuff to shower. She came out thirty minutes later she knew that because the tech kept knocking on the door to do checks she knew she was a q15 meaning they had to check on her every fifteen minutes. She went and sat next to a loner who seemed to be reading but she couldnt be sure. She heard his breathing she had sat next to him before she knew his name was Sean and he had done a lot of dope. She thought back to her therapy session yesterday remembering her mom's pressure to abort her pregnancy she was 19 and thought she was doing the right thing. She closed her eyes and prayed god help me through today give me the strength to not think of the child i could of had give me the strength to not remember the pain of that abortion my mother's beating me and dragging me to the clinic. God help me! She hadnt realyzed she was speaking until Sean put his large hand on her shoulder. "Jenni, you ok kid?" He seemed to care so she found herself opening up to him. "Yeah, its just three years ago today i had an abortion. I had become pregnant as a result of a rape. My mom Made me abort." "Wow thats some bull you shouldnt of had to do..." Sean sounded pissed but Jenni couldnt be sure. Jenni waited a bit more and soon enough it was breakfast "wow seven all ready" she thought finding her way to a table. She waited for the nurse to bring her her tray and she thought of the day's activities vitals, art therapy, music therapy, private personal therapy, pro-covery, dialectical behavioral therapy, and substance abuse group. Wow that's a lot she thought then lunch between personal therapy and pro-covery then the other groups and dinner and then she thought then what? Well, she thought that's right AA that was always good. She wondered if the people in that group came from all over oakwood or just the unit and would she know any of them. She found herself eating silently and hoping today would be somewhat easier as it droned on. She breezed through the morning groups up untill personal therapy she found it hard to talk about the abortion but knew she must. She started to tell the story she found herself crying as the hour closed. She found pro-covery interesting but dialectical behavioral therapy dbt more interesting along with the substance abuse group. Sean was there and kept silent and aloof he seemed unresponsive wow she thought i kinda like him. she ate then did evening shift vitals and another community group they had forgotten the morning group but no one cared Jenni was one of three people who showed Sean james and herself. The world seems so tiny Sean said quietly. He seemed to be looking jenni's way but she didn't know for sure. She went to the AA group and found Sean trying to coax someone obviously suffering from some sort of psychotic condition that this wasn't their bedroom and he was slightly successful by getting the man to walk out of the room in to the hall where a nurse and tech escorted him to his room. The aggressive man from Jenni's first day was sitting calmly at a simple table which for some reason still had stuff from the art group on it. Jenni sat on the wall for some reason all of a sudden she didn't feel like talking. The group was ok but the lady tried to push her to talk finally Jenni snapped "Look! I don't want to talk right now, I am deprived of nicoteen, and i just may fly over the roof in ten seconds so kindly don't fuck with me." She sat back. Well, looks like you need to be here longer Miss Palmer the woman said. "lady, look that girl had trauma happen to her three years back today. don't screw with her or you will piss me off and ya know what that looks like remember the broken nose i gave you? This all from sean who sat near Jenni and seemed to want to jump up and deck the woman on the spot. Sean stay out of it she screamed. "Drauma queen in the house." This was from Trina another girl on the unit."i am not a drauma queen the woman screamed. "Hey why is this chick still working here? Jenni finally had to ask. Cause, they can't find anyone else This from sean. "well, i can. Jenni looked absolute as she ran to the hall she dialed the house and Lance answered on the first ring. "hey wanna give back to the planet? "Yeah, what ya talking about Jen? Well, Jenni decided to pick her words slowly the lady leading AA is a real drauma queen and likes to force people to talk." "She try that on ya?" Lance sounded annoyed. In fact lance stood glaring at the wall he had just come home from a meeting he finally had a month sober. He stared in shock as Jenni told him the story. "I am calling them first thing in the morning and I am also calling the charge nurse on right now to discuss this with her. this is crap Jen and none of yall should have to put up with it. He told her he would be by in the morning to check on her and hung up. Jenni didn't return to the group she couldn't take anymore. She got her night meds and fell in to bed praying for a better day tomorrow.


Chapter 100: The Intertwined Life
(by NativeRose, added on 30 October 2008 09:48 PM)


Lana rolled out of bed when she realized the time.
"8:00! Oh no! I have to get to the bus stop by...oh, I'll never make it in time!" It was a darn good thing Lana's best friend was the director at Oakwood. It wasn't for that reason she was hired; rather, they chose her because of her credencials. As Lana ran to the phone to call the director, Leah, to tell her of the circumstances, she glanced at the calendar. She sighed with relief when she saw that her first day with the people at Oakwood would be tomorrow.

It was strange--how the whole thing came about. Lana had taking an addictions course for her MAC, and she was in the same class with Lynn...what was her last name? Lana remembered seeing Lynn's conflicted expression whenever they talked about alcoholism. She dropped the class two weeks into it, but Lana had heard enough to know things weren't quite right. She learned that Lynn had a daughter named Autumn, and she was dying. The only reason Lana remembered the girl's name was because she thought it was lovely the first time she heard it. She also revealed something about some guy; the events surrounding that man eluded her. Just then, her phone rang.
"Yeah...um...are you Lana, uh...the AA person?" What in the world was this all about?
Her focus shifted to the conversation at hand.
"I heard about that deal with Jenni and that Oakwood place. She said that the group leader did some unacceptable stuff, and she was fired. Well, someone told me you're the new person?"
"Who are you?"
"Oh, sorry. I guess I didn't tell you that in the midst of my babbling. I'm Lance, Jenni's friend."
Lance! That was it! He was the one who screwed things up for Autumn.
"...can go tonight? Oh, I have to go; Anna needs something." Before Lana could open her mouth, she heard the "click" on the line. She hadn't heard the first part of Lance's question. Her immediate revelation just took over her mind, and she hadn't heard a thing beyond his question about "tonight." He didn't even leave a number. Maybe he would call back.

Now Lana remembered the rest of the story. Lance was the man involved in Autumn's life, and it hadn't been a pleasant experience. She was able to fill in the rest of the pieces, because she had met Autumn some time later. It appeared that Lance was really changing. She hadn't heard a thing about Lynn since she signed herself out of rehab; according to Lynn, it was a complete waste of time. What a connection! How did Lance ever get mixed up with Jenni? Lana would find out soon enough.

That night, everyone introduced themselves and shared something lighthearted. They all had issues with drinking, among other things, so Lana decided they would start out with something a little less serious. These people were labeled "alcoholics" and eventually, that became their identities. And when Jenni spoke, Lana knew she was about to reveal something more.
"Yeah, so there is this girl who's in the hospital. She's super cool. When we played cards together, I told her she would have to close her eyes and read the Braille. Of course, she didn't know a thing--she's sighted--but she laughed all through that game. That's one of the few pleasant things I remember, but I'm glad I can think about that and not all the tragedy."

As Lana went through the next few weeks, she learned more of the story. She was beginning to figure out how the puzzle fit together. But noone knew what would unfold back in Autumn's hospital room.


Chapter 101: The Real Apparition
(by NativeRose, added on 5 November 2008 12:24 AM)


Autumn recognized the voice. She had to be dreaming. There was no possible way this could be true! Still, the voice continued, and Autumn knew what she would have to do. She opened her eyes to the tiniest slits and quickly squeezed them shut again. It was that person She never thought...well, it jujst couldn't be...no, she just wouldn't believe it! But the nightmare was not over for Autumn.

"Hey, don't ignore me, you little good for nothing..."
It was just like always. Could things ever really change? Well, the sooner Autumn talked, the sooner that incidious poison would go away. I thought it would end with Lynn, she thought, refusing to think of her mother in any other way.
"Yeah?" Autumn finally opened her eyes and spoke, but she didn't look at the visitor. She didn't have to; she knew exactly who it was.
"Look at me!" the woman raged.
"What do you want??" Autumn snapped.
"I am still your mom's best friend. Don't ever speak so to me again!"
"Okay, so tell me why you're here."
"I'm gonna tell you somethin' ya should have figured out a long time ago. You have gotten used to this special treatment and think you deserve this. Well, let me tell you, little girl, that ain't the way it goes. You start to think you're a person, but you're less than a snake."
"And you came to tell me this because..."
"You told your ma she needed to treat you like a person. You're the oddball. you held your mother back some. She had a kid so that dampened her social life a little. But don't worry: we wouldn't let her ruin her life entirely. But you know what? You were the thorn in her side. You got this cancer stuff and screwed things up. and then you got your father here, but what in blazes happened to him? Now he's just like the rest of you hopeless blobs of nothing. Your simpering devotion to each other really made us sick. Do you know how hard it was for your mom to play..."
"Get out!" Autumn said as loudly as she could.
"Listen here! You ain't gonna talk to me thataway. So shut up and listen...and look at me!" She grasped Autumn's face and abruptly turned the girl's head so she had no choice but to look into the smoldering eyes.
"Well, at least she's free of you. If you had died earlier she wouldn't have had to deal with you. See, the cancer would have allowed her to throw you into the trash so she could get on with life." Autumn lay there silently with her mouth slack. Becky laughed maniacally.
"So you think the last time we partied together was that day your no-good excuse for a father came to get her out of there?? Lance was the best thing that happened to her since you and your dad betrayed her. But you ruined that, too! You're just a..." Autumn finally wrenched her body away from Becky's grasp. Autumn had never known a time when they weren't together. After all, they were best friends. What the heck was she doing here now that Lynn was dead? Would Autumn's torment never end?
"What in God's name do you think you were doing to that poor, stupid fool?...I mean, your dad. I never thought he'd fall for that nonsense!"
"You'd like to know what we were doing in God's name? We were trying to point the way to Him!"
"You're all so darn stupid..."
"What's going on here?" the sharp voice and demand for immediate answers made Becky spin around. She faced some human tree. He towered above her some eight inches. And he wasn't just tall; he was quick, agile and strong. Why hadn't Lynn ever mentioned this person? Maybe Autumn didn't meet him until after her mom's death. But if that was the case, why did he look like he'd just as soon beat the crap out of her as look at her? And Autumn's expression and voice suggested something more than a passing acquaintance.
"Jamison!" she exclaimed. Becky could tell that she was relieved to see this mountain of a human being.
"Well, who the heck are you? Don't demand things of me, boy. You have no right--"
"I have that right if you mean to harm my friend. Now tell me who you are, what you're doing here and why you can say all that stuff to her?"
"It's...well, um, it's her fault that Lynn is dead. I was Lynn's best friend, and I know what really happened!"
"Listen here, lady. No matter how it happened, you have no business coming here to berate her. She is a person, one of God's creation, contrary to what you might believe." Becky peeked at the girl and almost laughed when she saw Autumn cower against the bed rail closest to the wall and cry. Becky decided she could handle this loser. If he believed all that nonsense about God, surely he wouldn't do anything to her.
"You sniveling, useless version of a--"
"That's enough!" a new voice shouted, just as that tree-sized man's fist connected with Becky's nose.
"Oh God!" the nurse gasped at the same time Becky screamed, "You blasted--" she started to talk as blood spurted from her nose and rushed down her face. The boy looked as shocked as she felt.
"What in blazes is going on in here?" yet a third voice demanded. The two latest arrivals could see that it would be difficult to separate the brawlers and get them out of Autumn's room without a fight. One had what looked like a cell phone in her hand, and the other person sprinted toward Autumn's bed. The man in scrubs turned to a smaller figure Becky hadn't noticed before.
"Kambra," he said, and without a word, the girl pulled the I.V. pole along as the man rolled the bed out of the room.
"Get someone from housekeeping in there when we get security over here," he ordered. The CNA he addressed immediately went to do his bidding.
"I hate this!" Autumn said. She managed to infuse her voice with some resentment. Three more people were walking toward Autumn's room with grim expressions. Two continued on their way, but the third went straight for Autumn and the male nurse.
"Josiah, what the heck happened here?" Jaycee spoke softly, though she was seething inside. But Josiah had turned back toward Autumn's room when something caught his eye.
"Don't leave her," he commanded Jaycee, the hospital social worker. By this time, there were some seven people in Autumn's room, but Josiah went straight for just one.
"Go take care of that," Jacob the security guard said. Then he turned to Josiah and continued, "and you see that she does." Josiah ushered Sariah out of the girl's room and turned down the hallway opposite of Autumn.
"Let's go this way," Sariah said, pointing in the direction she wanted to go. "I don't want Autumn to see my bloody face."
"So what exactly happened?"
"I guess Jamison could tell us the whole story. That boy isn't violent...he's such a gentle person, but I guess he just snapped...I mean, I can't figure anything else." Sariah spoke as Josiah got supplies to help her clean up.
"I can do this, you know," she began.
"No!" Josiah said in a voice that did not invite argument.
"So that woman was one of Lynn's drinking--" Josiah stopped when he saw Jamison walk toward them.
"what the heck happened in there?" the two nurses asked in unison. Jamison explained what he knew and finished with, "I just...I don't know what happened. I mean, that's not something I would usually do. This is all my fault!" Jamison said in utter despair as he looked at Sariah's swollen face.
"Nonsense!" she said, "I have known you for quite some time, and I know for a fact that you do not have a violent nature. The pressure became too--"
"When she saw Autumn shrink back and begin to cry and said that was amusing, I just...I didn't think. So I apologized, but she...well, you saw what happened."
"Yeah, and I can sure feel it," Sariah said from behind a cold compress. "I'd rather have her break my nose than for her to harm Autumn..." Sariah's voice trailed off as Jacob and another security guard physically carried Becky away.



Chapter 102: Aftermath
(by NativeRose, added on 5 November 2008 12:37 AM)


Autumn refused to talk to Jaycee; she just had enough of the lot of them.
"Go away," she managed. Jaycee walked to the other side of the hallway so she could still see Autumn and take any neededaction but give Autumn the space she needed.
"I said...go away!" Autumn's attempt at a shout passed through feeble lips, but it was clear that she was livid. Just then, Abbie approached to talk to Autumn, so Jaycee walked back toward her office. She knew Autumn didn't mean a thing she said. It was just that most people in her life took advantage of her, and now they were using her physical weakness and emotional fragility to inflict more pain. A person could take only so much. Autumn had been pushed way beyond her limits, so her unkind words didn't bother staff at all.

"Are you ready to--"
"Leave me alone!" Autumn interrupted Abbie's question.
"I'm going to take you back to your room," Abbie tried again.
"what in blazes" Jason seemed to appear out of nowhere. Abbie raised her hand for silence and motioned for Jason to remain where he stood. Abbie would explain everything to him, but she had to get Autumn back to her room and help to aleviate her agitation. Abbie helped her to change into soft jammies and tucked a heated blanket around her. Jamison had done some detective work and purchased some aromatic lotion for just such times as this. As Abbie gently massaged the lavender scented lotion into the girl's tense body, Marla entered with some meds.
"Where is Sariah?" Autumn demanded, but her vocal expression wasn't nearly as angry. Abbie looked at Marla, unsure of what to say.
"She just left to get something for you...something you'll enjoy." Abbie wondered if this was true or if Marla just said something to explain Sariah's absence. Marla nodded almost imperceptibly to Abbie's unasked question. Marla injected the antianxiety med into Autumn's I.V. line and left just as Sariah was about to enter. Abbie put Autumn's slippers on her cold feet and smiled when she saw what Sariah had in her hand. As Abbie left the room, she heard Autumn's exclamation of pleasure when Sariah showed her the hot cocoa she had searched for. It was one of Autumn's favorite beverages, and warm liquids often worked to relax people. Abbie left, but not before she saw the tiny smile on Autumn's face. This crisis was over, and they were all praying that Lynn's past and people would leave Autumn in peace.

Jason paced through the hallway, and his agitation matched that of his daughter. Obviously, something had happened. When Jason demanded to know why Abbie wouldn't let him go into her room, Sariah explained what had happened and what caused the girl's emotional state. Now Abbie sought him out to offer reassurance. She gave him a more complete version of the story.
"Well," he said when she finished, "I don't have anything against the boy. I mean, it takes all of my self-control and God's strength not to make them all pay for what they have done. I'm surprised nothing like this hasn't happened until today." Abbie's back was turned toward the door, so she didn't see the figure until she heard someone say his name.
"She's asking for you, Jamison," Sariah was standing in the doorway to Autumn's room. Abbie turned to see the uncertainty pass over his face. It only took a moment for him to collect his emotions so he could do whatever Autumn needed to get through the latest catastrophe. He felt a measure of guilt. After all, he was the one who had hit that lady. But he just couldn't take anymore of that, especially when he saw her triumphant smile when she noticed Autumn's "pathetic" form. Jamison hesitated; he didn't want to do anything to make this even more difficult for her. Sariah smiled reassuringly, despite her swollen and bruised face. Then Jamison looked toward Autumn, who gave him a groggy smile as she struggled to keep her eyes open. She lost the battle and was asleep within one minute. Although she was no longer aware of her surroundings and hopefully sleeping peacefully, Jamison wouldn't leave her for anything.


Chapter 103: A Friendship Ended
(by jennifer palmer, added on 11 November 2008 07:33 AM)


Lance sat at Jenni's computer writing out a college application online. He heard the phone ring and answered it. "Hey Lance" It couldn't be he thought. "Why don't you and me go out tonight" she said her speech was slurred beyond comprehention. "Becky, don't call here again" Lance said his tone angry. "Ah lance ya didnt take up with that girl of Lynne's did you." He stared. "why? He was puzzled. "Cause that girl wasnt nothin but trouble to us ya shoulda killed her instead of just raping her." Lance started to feel his blood boil. "What did you do that for. I was just starting to turn shit around how could you' He found himself screaming.
"she doesn't deserve nothin but trouble" "you bitch" he screamed don't you ever do such shit again cause i will sight you as an accomplass". Lance stared in shock praying for guidance the while. "But lance, i did it..." He cut her off you did it for yourself! Well, i am tending to this right now." He hung up and dialed the hospital. "Hey Ms Golden do me a favor, keep that woman Rebecca away from there and know it didnt have a damn thing to do with me" he said flatly. "I didn't know of any of this and i am getting an order of protection and sighting her as an accomplass to the rape I will not be the only one goin down for this I refuse." He waited for the nurse's response praying. Lord help us now we need it so badly." "Ok, she was banned from the building and Autumn probably doesn't hold anything against you I jus couldn't believe that woman came here talking that stuff about you after all of the progress you were making how is the schooling stuff going anyway?" "it's all right i am in the application process for colleges that will take my scores and such." I gotta go he said this thing has a time limit and I need to get ready to run to Oakwood, there is an AA meeting tonight and i am going to see if they will let me join in. He hung up returning to his application praying for something good to happen. If he only knew the answers to his prayers were soon to come.


Chapter 104: Spreading Pieces
(by NativeRose, added on 17 November 2008 12:29 PM)


Carrie saw the documented events of the day, but she didn't know if she had it straight. She walked toward Autumn's room, but stopped when she saw Sariah.
"So...want to explain what happened? I don't think I have the whole story figured out."
"Okay, here's how it went. Becky, Lynn's best friend and drinking partner, came here to...well, the same verbal abuse Autumn got from her mom. Jamison was the next person to enter, and he tried to put a stop to it. Then I came in just in time to see her glance at Autumn and to see Jamison punch Becky full in the face. Then, Josiah and Kambra--Pastor Corbin's daughter--came in and took Autumn's bed and all the machinery out. Meanwhile, I was working to disperse the "crowd," but Becky turned on me and effectively broke my nose, and I ended up with eyes almost swollen shut later. Josiah must have seen that right away, because the security guard told me to leave and work on cleaning up my face at the same time Josiah entered. The guards took Becky away, and several of us have spent the last hour trying to help relieve Autumn's agitation."

Lance was greatly relieved when he learned that Becky wouldn't be permitted to enter Autumn's room, and she had no other reason to go to the hospital. Nevertheless, all security guards were especially vigilent. He felt his burden was a little lighter as he made his way to the AA meeting. He strangely anticipated a reunion with Jenni. What was this hold the girl had on him? He appreciated, admired and respected Jenni for sure, but was there something more? She helped to rescue Lance from his impending fate at the bottom of a beer bottle. Maybe his intense gratitude caused this attraction.

Jenni met him outside the Oakwood entrance. Her smile was so genuine, and a new mirth seemed to color her life.
"I did it, Lance! I just...well, I decided I want God in my life. Lana has been helping me to untangle this whole deal, and I'm ready!"
"That's great! And I have some news for you. I finished my application to Mesa State and sent it today. I'm finally getting my life back together."
But neither person's joy was to last, at least for this night.


Chapter 105: Becky's Turn
(by NativeRose, added on 17 November 2008 12:43 PM)


Lana was not present, and Lance and Jenni soon discovered the shocking reason. Another group leader rushed to explain, though she was not eager to do so.
"Becky, the lady who was here once and abruptly left telling us this was a waste of her time...anyway, Becky was killed today." Her voice trailed off, and gasps filled the room. How could this be?
"She left the Sugar Shack, but on her way home, she crashed into a median, sailed across the street and slammed into a telephone pole. Then, the car spun totally out of control and she collided into a pedestrian--a woman in a wheelchair, holding a baby." Several faces darkened and others bowed their heads in shame. Many of these people got into similar situations, and that was why they were here tonight.
"Becky was killed, as was the woman in the wheelchair. However, she must have seen what was going on, because she shielded the baby from direct impact with the car. The baby is alive, but she sustained many injuries. I happen to know some staff who are working with her, and I know for a fact they are praying for her. We're all praying she lives."
"Yes," said a quiet chorus of AA members.
That meeting turned out to be a time for sharing their stories like that. Although it was painful, they needed this release, and it was one of the first steps to healing.


Chapter 106: Weaving Life
(by NativeRose, added on 23 November 2008 05:34 PM)


Jason and Abbie stood, looking with great concern at the baby in the bed. Her tiny body was almost completely obscured within monitors and machinery. The two prospective parents quietly prayed for Shalana as she struggled to grasp fragile life. She was only six months old, and she just lost her mommy! Her father was long gone. True, Shalana had been born outside of marriage, which didn't make for a stable home. However, soon after Suzannah realized she was pregnant, she found her Lord and Savior. That little baby couldn't have had a more devoted mother than Suzannah. Shalana's father didn't want to have a thing to do with her, but Jason and Abbie were most willing to take Shalana, should she survive. As they stood over the baby they hoped would be theirs, a third person entered quietly. Jason turned to see the unfamiliar man standing behind Abbie, peeking over her shoulder.
"You!" Jason gasped in surprise.
"Yeah, it's me..." Lance's voice trailed off as he surveyed his...daughter?
"It was before I...Lynn...you know." He's been around, Jason thought. So he has this history of leaving women pregnant and alone.
"You might not believe me, but I never meant for this to happen," Lance said in an unusually contrite tone.
"How many other fatherless children out there are yours?" Abbie asked coldly.
"Thank God there are others who will love your children. How many of these women will be destitute and living far below the poverty line just so you can have your "good times?" Jason asked tartly.
"I know I am responsible for a lot of tragedy, and I ain't proud of what I done. I wish I could go back and change all of this. I think the best thing for Shalana is to let you take her. I know you'll make great parents!"
Jason and Abbie could see the real shame in his eyes and hear the regretful tone of voice.
"Forgive me," they said in unison, and then Abbie continued, "The way I responded wasn't Christ-like."
"Yeah, I know you're doing the best you can to straighten out your life. Forgive me for speaking so harshly." Jason concluded
"Well, y'all got every right..." Lance's voice trailed off again, this time because of the doctor's arrival.
What have I done? Lance mentally screamed as his heart plunged into despair. Now the pediatrician was telling them Shalana probably wouldn't be able to walk and talk. She'd need constant care. The doctor tried to impress upon them just how difficult this would be. It was clear she thought it would be far too trying for the probable worth caring for this child would be. Well, she didn't know their God, and she didn't know the dedication of these two people.
"Dr. Frye," Abbie interrupted her tirade, "Shalana is a person. She's a life God created, and He made her for a reason and with a purpose. We wouldn't be here if we didn't believe this was what God wanted." The doctor left, shaking her head in bewilderment. What if she was right Even if Shalana never took a first step or uttered a sound, they would still love her as their own, because as God's creation she was a member of their family. No one could tell them anything different.
"Oh Godd!" The anguished cry brought Jason and Abbie out of their troubled thoughts.
"I have screwed up my life many times over!" Lance continued speaking his own tormented thoughts aloud.
"Lance," they said at once, "you're obviously repentent, so now you can figure out how to get your life in order. Self-recrimination isn't going to help you. And by stating that you want your daughter to stay with us shows that you're thinking of her best interests. That's a great sign."
"But you two don't understand. First, there was Anna, and now her mom is dead. Then there was Shalana, and her mom is dead, and then autumn, and her mom is dead! I can't believe the connection...Becky killed this baby's mama, and Lynn's daughter is dying, and I still can't abide what I done to that girl, either! How could God ever...no, I don't deserve that!" And with these agonized words, Lance turned and fled the place of his destruction.



Chapter 107: Autumn's brother
(by reinhard stebner, added on 13 December 2008 09:20 AM)


Two children played in the park below Autumn's window. One little boy looked like he had seen better days. His closing looked a bit raged and his friend looked like he also looked like he had seen better days as well. Autumn has seen this two boys paying out there. When ever she say them playing it always helped her deal with the bumps and turns in her life. The read headed boy reminded her of the friends from school. it had been a while now sicne she had seen them and some times she wundered how they were and what was up with them. The way how she was feeling these days, she realy did not want to see any of them.

Lance kept thinking about what had happened and thaugth about what had happened and how badly he felt. He often thaugth about the little sister he used to have. A sister who looked very much like Autumn. His mother who he enver new and a fother who he did not get along with all that well.

Autumn looked at the two poys playing again and remember many years ago a brother, a brother who was simple but very challenged. He was challenged by expernaces and hapenstances. She kept watching the two boys and wundered who they were and who their parents were. She was glad that these two boys found the park by the Hospital. The park was new, they had just opend it a few weeks ago. She often thagut that they opened it for her benifit so that she could watch people and be part of something again.

Lance new that he may never find his little sister expecually how messed up was was now. He knew that he had a long way to go before he would become werthy. It was something to have met Autumn. He stell felt verly badly about what had happened and somehow he felt that he had hurt Autumn much greater then he could ever amagen. Somehow he knew down deep that he had hurt himself, that he had taken something away from himself. Somehow he knew that his little sister was damaged, damaged far beyong any normal person could bar.

Autumn looked away fromt he boys and back at her room. The flowers kept fresh by her dad, the letters and pos tcards on the table set out for her from many people around the contry who had heard about the Autumn's plite and wnated to send their support. She new thta this rode of recovery would be a long one. She also new that with her Loard next to her side that things would be okay. She felt violoted, and did not trust very many people. At times she even had problems trusting God. She had to remind herself that Jesus would enver give her anything that would be two hard for her to deal with. For the first time in a long time she thaught about who her brother coul be. She new she had a brother, but was not shure who or where he could be. She turned over and looked out the open door of her room. Ever since that offel night, she wanted the door of her room always open and a gard stationed just outside the door at all times.

Lance decided that the only way he was going to know who his little sister was, was by starting a search for her. He was not even shure who his mother was.


Chapter 108: the start of larnce's new life
(by emma, added on 14 December 2008 07:45 PM)


Larnce decided that he would go down to his local registery office to see whether he could get a copy of his birht certificet. When he arived at the resgistery office he went up to the desk and gave his name and aged to the lady behind the desk. As he was waiting for the result he was thinking what to do if the lady could not find him on her computer. The lady looked up and smiled "i have found your infromation would you like me to print it out for you sir."
"yes please that would be grate."
"do you have any proof of who you are sir." larnce took out his driving license and showed the lady. "that is grate." She then passed over the copy of his birth certificet and he just stood and looked at it. His mother's name was sally white. He shook his head and read it again. It could not be sally it was the old lady who lived opersit him and jenny. He phoned jenny and told her the good news. She was so happy for him.


Chapter 109: the Connection
(by NativeRose, added on 20 December 2008 01:09 AM)


Sally White--that was Lance's mother? Her name was familiar to him. He had heard it somewhere other than from the lady at the department of health and human services office. Yes, that was it. Once, when Lynn was drunk, she said her sister's name was Sally White. He thought he remembered her saying she'd had a son about his age...a son named Lance! Could he really be Autumn's cousin? Her parents were Jason and Lynn, and his, according to the birth certificate, were Sally and Jim. He did some checking and found that his mother's maiden name was White; his dad's last name had been Jacobs. And White had been Lynn's maiden name. Oh God, he thought. I can't believe how twisted this thing is. I raped my cousin! Incest is even more demented than...oh God, what have I done?

The two redheaded boys had seen Autumn through her window and finally decided to meet her.
"Hi!" One skipped into her room, abruptly rousing her from a nap. At first, she was quite frightened, but as she trained her eyes on his face, she calmed. They looked oddly familiar. She puzzled over this until an unexpected source of clarity arrived.

Lance stopped short when he saw the small boys in Autumn's room.
"Sorry," Sariah muttered as she bumped into him. She was walking behind Lance. She had turned to say something to Jamison, who was with them, and she did not see Lance stop. She peeked around him to see the young boys.

"Philip, Matthew!" Lance exclaimed, surprising everyone.
"Hi." They turned to him and spoke the word, then turned back to Autumn.
"Wait a minute," protective Jamison fearlessly marched into the room as if to do battle for his friend. "what's going on?" he asked, taking his place beside Autumn.
"Well, y'all know how I was born. My mama was sixteen. Several years later, she had twins. That was when I was fourteen. Matthew and Philip are my brothers. She named them after people in the Bible. They were born after she got religion. They're your cousins, too, Autumn...just like me!"
"No way!" Philip said.
"You're our cousin? How does that work?" Matthew looked terribly confused.
"Y'all know the gal I was with for a time."
"Which one?" Philip asked rather snidely. Lance felt a pang of guilt and pain, but he knew he deserved his brother's disdain.
"Lynn. she was Autumn's mom. And you know that Lynn was Sally, our mom's sister."
"this is just getting too weird," Sariah sighed as she turned to leave the room. So it wasn't a sister Lance was looking for...Autumn was his cousin! What a twisted life! And that lady who lived in the apartment across the hall from Jenni's place couldn't be his mom! She sure looked different, but maybe she changed her identity to get away from the murderous rage of his father. It had all started with his father, but Lance couldn't blame him for everything. He was learning to face the consequences of his choices...his awful choices, especially those that affected Autumn, Shalana and Anna. Maybe the best thing would just be to stay out of their lives. But then he remembered Jenni's reminders about God, and how He could turn the ashes of Lance's life into something beautiful.

Autumn was shocked! Could things get any more bizzarre? She was almost afraid to know the answer to that question.
"God, I just don't understand!" she cried in anguish.
"Why do You allow this stuff?" She felt guilty for beseeching God in such a manner, but she remembered her nurses reminding her that nothing was wrong with expressing her displeasure and asking God about what was going on as long as she didn't doubt His sovereignty. She knew God would do as He saw fit in His infinite wisdom. That didn't mean she understood or had to like what God did. Then a thought occurred to her; it was something to lift her plummetting spirit. All that God did was for her good, and no matter how she questioned, cried and railed, God would never abandon her.



Chapter 110: Jesus, our Blessed assurance
(by Reinhard , added on 20 December 2008 07:23 PM)


Lance sat down at the end of autumn’s bed and looked at her. He just could not believe the weirdness the oddity of life. He had never heard of such twice crazy life. He wondered if autumn ever thought this would even have been a possibility just a few months ago. Lance kept looking at autumn and thinking about how weird, broken and messed up this girl really was. He felt so guilty so out of sorts. Here he thought autumn was his sister, but turned out that she was not but she was a cousin. He felt so offal about what he did in sin. He knew that he was going to have to face this monster and he just wished that when ever it happened that it wood be quick and it would be over. Lance looked around Autumn’s hospital room and wished for the 1000th time that she would not have to stay in such a drab room. A room were deaf happens. It is a pretty room. Flowers are placed here are there. Some on the TV. Someone had brought in a small table and placed it next to her bed. On the table are pictures of her at the beach. Just behind the pictures are a grouping a small pictures all of which were taken with a Polaroid camera. The pictures were of her class mates smiling, holding balloons and showing joy. Lance looked at these pictures and thought about the kind of life Autumn had before al of this craziness started. He new that things were not as happy as all that, but they must have been better then they were now. He was also sure that Autumn was not this reserved be for … Oh God why did I have to go off and make a mess of such nice girl?

Lance looked up from the pictures and say Jason come though the door. He sure did not look all that happy to see all of these people in Autumn’s room. He was hoping that he would have a few minutes alone with Autumn. He had found out that he had some very bad news and he did not know how he was going to brake it to her. Looking at Lance he realized that Lance also was full of love for his little girl. At times, he know that he had problems forgiving Lance for what he had done. But, he prayed to the Lord that he would be her life line. He could not believe how things had changed over such short amount of time. He was, walking in to his little girls room and seeing all of this living people talking and sitting or leaning on walls talking to Autumn. He new that Autumn had not seen him since she was still talking with Matthew and Philip (Jason had met them a few days ago as he was leaving the building). He looked at Autumn and Lance.

Lance was looking out the window when Jason came in to the room. When he turned around there he was, Wondering for the 100th time why this had to happen why he had damaged such a beautiful girl. Lance looked at Jason and immediately knew that something was wrong, something that was not going to be fun and something that was going to brake.

Jason walked all the way in to the room and everyone stopped talking and all looked at him. The only sound in the room came from the hall and the quiet buzzing of the TV turned on low..
“Autumn…” He began and had difficulty continuing.
“I think … I …” He broke down crying. Autumn never say her dad cry just like this. Everyone looked at Jason, strong tall Jason and wondered what was coming. They all new was ever it was it was not going to be fun.
Lance stood up and mad room for Jason to set on the bed with his daughter.
Jason took a big breath and started again to speak. He sure hoped that he could get this out before he totally lost it.
“Autumn, I just came from … talking with the doctors.” Jason prayed, O Lord give me strength to tell her was I must say. I had asked permission to give her this news and not have it come from the staff. “I do not know how to tell you this … but, you are ummm … present condition is temporary. The doctors looked at your tests this morning and … the cancer is starting to build up in your mind …” Jason list it. He just could not continue telling his little girl who he only new fir a couple of weeks now that she only had weeks to live. There was no denying the truth. The cancer was beginning to invade the brain tissues at the bottom of the brain stem. “Autumn you have only a couple of weeks left …” He hugged her firmly crying uncontrollably. “the doctors say that it could be any time now. They say that it will be painless and very quick. The staff say that hospice will be coming in daily to help.” At this, Sariah and Jamison sped forward and said,
“we are volteers for hospice and will not be leaving you.” Jamison continued “I will be brining up my homework and doing it here with you. I will always will be bringing you school work as well.” He new cried as well hugging Autumn. “Jesus is here with use and he will and always will be here with us. I am so happy that Jesus is here was us and that he is in total control. Jamison and Jason stepped out of the room in order to allow Sariah to have a couple of moments. The boys just stood there watching and listening. They new something was very wrong and this is why they decided to come up to the room and give her a berth of the freshness of outside. They made t leave, but Lance (from the doorway) said that it was okay if they stayed.
Sariah bent down and hugged Autumn. “I will be here for you. When you want a girl to cry with I am here.


Chapter 111: What Next?
(by NativeRose, added on 23 December 2008 12:09 PM)


"Oh, seet Lord!" Autumn's frightened exclamation sent Jamison shooting out of his chair like a cannon.
"What's wrong?" he asked, trying not to make his own fear evident.
"I...I can't move my right arm and leg!" Jamison was torn; he just didn't know what to do next. He needed to tell someone what was going on, but Autumn was crying and hyperventilating, and he just couldn't leave her. God surely heard Jamison's prayer, for at that moment, the neurologist entered the room. She quickly put the chart down and immediately dismissed whatever she had come to say. She rushed toward Autumn's bed, bumping into Jamison in her haste.
"What is wrong?" Bridget OConnor asked in her Irish accent. Noone realized a third person entered until his voice and words brought a semblance of calm to the distraught group.
"Grab Melody," he said into his phone. Oh no, Autumn thought, the new oncology nurse is going to think I'm crazy! Dr. OConnor was immediately summoned to the hospital emergency room for a stroke patient, so Zachariah, the new male nurse, took her place. "this is one of the most frightening things...of my life!" Autumn lamented, quickly dismissing her earlier embarrassment. Surely Zachariah would understand, and the compassion in his eyes reassured Autumn that he would not judge her.

When Bridget returned later, she had a surprising proposition for Autumn. She asked Sariah; Melody, the hospital social worker; Kyle Corbin, the chaplain; Abbie, Jason's future wife; Jamison and Jason to be present. She decided it would just be too traumatic for Lance to be in on this most personal, momentous meeting. Someone could tell him at a more appropriate time.
"I wanted to talk to you about treatment options, benefits and risks. I have spoken to the oncologist, and there is a specific treatment that will work best since the tumor is metastatic."
"And that is...?" Jason asked.
"I want to do another CT scan so we can pinpoint the exact location. We can try to surgically remove it if there is minimal risk to other brain damage."
"I want you to remove as much as you can."
"The risks are bleeding, infection and possible brain damage."
"I'm already going through enough of that with seizures, these awful headaches and now the paralysis and weakness. Sometimes I just wish it would all go away...somehow." Jamison reached for her hand, and Jason started to speak.
"Don't say such things!"
"How would you know what this is like? You're not in my body, and you have no idea how this feels, so kindly shut your mouth!"
Jason stood there with his mouth open and shock displayed on his face. First, he knew that wasn't the right thing to say as soon as the words left his mouth. But this wasn't normal behavior for Autumn. But wait. The neuro and cancer docs had said personality changes could take place. Jason just had to remember that this monster was really the cancer emerging, and the same sweet, gentle spirit dwelt within her ravaged body.
"We can also do whole brain radiation..."
Oh, what was the doctor going on about now? Autumn couldn't believe how she had just responded to her father. What the heck was wrong with her? What was happening? She never thought she would ever turn into this conflicted, emotional bomb. The silence drew her out of her thoughts.
"I guess I want whatever you think will help."
"First, I ant a CT scan, and then you can decide for sure." As the doctor opened the door to exit, Jason and Abbie slipped out of the room unnoticed. Abbie had seen the stricken expression and thought he needed immediate and serious emotional support. Besides, there were still four people in Atumn's room to see to her. Abbie and Jason would return when it would be possible and minimally stressful to hold it all together.

They were giving Autumn another chance at life. If she thought this was a living death, shouldn't she be the one to decide what to do next? Jamison would never let her consider something like euthinasia or assisted suicide. Aside from the fact that it was illegal, he couldn't let anyone, even Autumn, play God. He refused to follow that train of thought. Autumn wanted to do whatever possible to prolong her life. She wasn't giving up, so it wouldn't be right for anyone else to do so.


Chapter 112: Jenni's Role
(by NativeRose, added on 23 December 2008 01:09 PM)


Jaycee, Autumn's regular social worker, had been at a conference for psychologists, so she wasn't there to hear Autumn's news with the others. That was why Dr. OConnor had asked Melody to take her place.
Now Jaycee was trying to explain the recent news to Lance.
"She has a metastatic brain tumor, but they are going to remove as much as they can. They will also begin radiation..."
Lance had no idea what Jaycee said after that. Hadn't Autumn been through enough already? So what if she snapped at people yesterday, as Jason had explained. Couldn't they be a little more leanient? He sure hoped no one would...

Lance answered his ringing cell phone only to hear surprising and dismal news.
"Hey, I figured you would want to know..." Jenni was saying.
"Yeah?"
"There is a lady who is being released today, and I heard her say something about Lynn Keller. No one here knows about my connection with those people. So she's going to be released this afternoon, and I don't know if she'll try to cause trouble for Autumn."
"Oh, thank you so much for telling me. Who is this lady?"
"Her name is Virginia Swenson. You just have to warn those people."
"I'm on it!...Jaycee!" he called after the retreating worker.

Fifteen minutes later, several people met in Carrie's unofficial office for an impromptu staff meeting.
"Jacob, you were asked to be here because we need a security guard to be stationed outside Autumn's room for a time."
"Joshua is on the next shift, and he knows about Autumn's sticky situation. Do you want him next?"
"You, Joshua, Gabriel, Isaiah and Joel have been approved to help with this." Carrie handed Jacob a sheet of paper. "This is a tentative schedule for the five of you. Take a look at this, circulate it to the others and get back to me ASAP to let me know if this will work." She turned to the others in the room to explain the situation. Lance just told me about an increased threat for Autumn. Apparently one of Lynn's friends is being released from Oakwood today. We have no idea if she will try to pull a Becky, but we're not taking any chances!"
"You got that right!" Jamison exclaimed, jumping to his feet.
"Sorry...it's just that these people can't use her for target practice! It's just not going to happen!" Sariah reached out to touch his arm in a motherly fashion.
"Jenni got the staff to fax us a picture of the woman, Virginia. Jacob, you'll hand these out to your guards with discretion?"
"Absolutely!" Everyone split up with pictures in hand and somber, determined expressions. There would be no way that Lynn could continue to haunt Autumn's life.


Chapter 113: A Chance for Lance
(by NativeRose, added on 23 December 2008 01:29 PM)


Lance didn't know of the plan to have the security guards stationed outside Autumn's room. He decided he would be extra vigilent to be sure nothing could happen. It was decided that Autumn wouldn't be made aware of the hitened security, because that knowledge would just add stress to her life. She certainly didn't need more of that. Maybe Lance could be vindicated from his own self-imposed incrimination by helping her in this way.

Lance saw an oddly familiar person before the security guard did. Lance happened to be in a lounge of sorts looking for Abbie. He saw the woman as she rounded the corner. But the security guard could not determine her identity at that point because she was just around the bend.
"Hey!" he hurried to the woman.
"Yeah?" she barked.
"Ain't you that gal I seen at the Sugar Shack??"
"What you talkin' 'bout, boy?"
Lance frantically searched for something to say to divert her attention and to slow her progress to Autumn's room.
"I seen you there with Becky and Lynn. We hang together sometimes."
"Don't you know they's both dead?" she rasped.
"Well, I knowed 'bout Lynn..."
"Yeah, and that girl's gonna get hers for what she done to my friends." Lance supposed he morphed into this mode of speech to make his part appear more believable.
"Aw, don't worry 'bout that none. Let's go get us a drink." Lance prayed she would take the bait and he could get her out the door. She stopped and looked at him oddly.
"What? I ain't never met you! You a freak!"
"Naw, let's go have some fun!"
"Well, I s'pose that will make this deal funner."
"Yeah, then you can tell me 'bout what ya wanna do with this girl. I wanna help."
Lance had just decided he would go undercover to see what he could find out. Then he could go to the police or at least alert the hospital staff of Virginia's plans. If only he could help that girl he had so wronged...




Chapter 114: A Daring plan
(by jennifer palmer, added on 28 January 2009 01:08 PM)


Lance remembered the stun gun Jenni told him to carry. "Remember that thing puts out 800000 volts of pure eletric force" He remembered her saying that as he and Virginia left the hospital. He felt it clipped to his belt as they walked He also remembered the can of mace Jenni had made him promise to carry. They stopped to cross the street and he pulled both out one in each hand. "I am gonna say this one time little lady he said coldly. You mess with me my friends or anyone I will kill you I aint got crap to lose not too mention ya was talkin bout doing crap to my cousin he jammed the stun gun in to her hip flipped the safety and hit the trigger switch at that second Jenni aproached a colt in one hand cane in the other. "Look here little bitch" she said "see this gun ya step foot in that hospital without a damned good reason like bleeding dying or via cop i end your life got it? "virginia looked shocked. "how dare yall that girl made lynne look like nothin I should kill you both" Jenni jammed the colt to her head "one more word bitch and i pull the trigger and its no more blimmish on society" Lance quickly pocketted the mace pulled out his cell and dialed Jason "hey i got virginia ya may wanna get psych down here fore jenni blows her brains out. Jenni and me made a plan to stop this chick cold I wasn't going to let her hurt Autumn got some news for ya me and your daughter, we are cousins. Jason was staring at jacob the guard, "jacob ya got experience with psych guns and a very angry blind lady? Jacob stared he had known Jenni since she was a kid and said "oh my god she brought out the colt on that lady?>??? "Yeah," Jason answered slowly. She did got her at point now. They ran down to the corner and Jacob started to talk to Jenni who looking surprized said "well? did yall think i was going to let harm come to Autumn? She handed the gun to Jacob and said I just got released from oakwood, been on my meds its a mother's like instinct this chick nor anyone else is gonna pull this crap again. I will kick ass and take names. All three men looked worried, but they all knew that Jenni would stand by her word. Virginia on the other hand lay on the sidewalk crying that she didn't want to hurt Autumn just scare her. Jenni simply slapped the woman across the face bs lady she snarled I know better remember me come on little girl look at me remember me the one who helped lock you up in isolation I strapped your butt down girly remember? Jenni felt sick who would want to hurt a girl with brain cancer of all crap a defenseless child of all people. Jenni glared down at the woman and said "Autumn has a brain tumor, how would you feel if some lady who drinks too much aint got a job and smokes more crack in a day than most smoke in a lifetime were wanting to hurt your child how the hell would you feel! Virginia just stared up at them all "what that why she in the hospital? "yeah and lynne didn't do any favors." Jason said this his eyes flaming. You my dear Lance said have just screwed up your probation and your treatment plan it appears. "Jacob, arrest her." Jacob did as requested and carted her off to the station where she was taken back to prison to a psychiatric unit on sight and locked in for observation. Jenni, Lance, Jason, and Jacob went back to the hospital to talk to everyone else on what had happened. Lance started to talk then stopped "what's up man" Jacob asked. "I was thinking about those rape charges I noticed I haven't been formally charged or anything." Well, Jenni spoke, I sorta spotted you and had a little talk with the DA I told them downtown that you had come to AA and started looking in to college and i doubted that you would reoffend let's put it this way you are being watched and when Autumn is well enough psychologically and physically they will talk to her for a decision." "I agreed to that as the custodial party in this Lance because I have seen you make progress." Jason spoke up now trying to ease the man's fears. Lance went home that night and sat down at the computer trying to figure out which degree he wanted to major in psychology or criminal justice, he had decided against the specializations for mental health services or substance abuse programs in favor of psychology which would allow him to work in both fields. He found himself on his blog talking about the plan he wrote "I feel so pethetic, I mean yeah i saved Autumn but I hurt her more than the lord will ever forgive. and I don't know if i will ever be forgiven." Autumn sat up on her bed learning to use a special keyboard that she could use with one hand when she came across Lance's blog and started to read from the day he went to AA with Jenni to now and his last words stung. "He hates himself and fears I will never forgive him when he saved me but from what?" Why she thought why do they think they will stress me out if they tell me there is a problem why do they hide crap she thought as she shut the laptop down and tried to sleep.


Chapter 115: Opening Hearts
(by NativeRose, added on 15 February 2009 08:55 PM)


"Look at this! Why do you people think you got to protect me?" Autumn shoved the computer at the first person to enter her room.
"Well, I, um..." Jamison stood there stuttering, which was a new experience for him. Obviously she had seen something upsetting.
"Is this what I saw from the window?"
"What do you mean?"
"I saw Jacob, Lance and my dad out there with Jenni and some other lady. But that one looked like she was drunk or stoned or something." Yes, Autumn would be able to etermine something like that. After all, she had seen it in her mother enough times.
"...was actually sort of amusing. Obviously she got hers when Jenni--" Jamison realized he had missed something, but he desperately tried to piece it all together. She was quite agitated, and it wouldn't help if he told her he missed what she said. Something in his expression must have given it away.
:I said," she paused to carefully study his expression, "when Jenni shoved that gun into the woman's face, things changed drastically. When she crawled to a safe distance and curled up into a ball...well, that was sort of amusing. I imagine she was pleading for her life." Jamison was relieved that she didn't seem to be angry with him. But the next words quickly scattered this impression.
"In a way, I'm glad. How many times have I had to plead for my life?? How many times have they shoved tubes and catheters into me, shot electricity through me, taken me out of here for their pleasure? And what in blazes did I do to deserve that last? The medical crap doesn't bother me nearly as much as Lynn and her friends. I refuse to address her as my mother, because she wasn't one. And then you all felt the need to orchestrate something in my life without telling me. This is still my life, and you people can't control all of it!" Jamison knew she didn't mean anything by that statement, but it hurt anyway. How could she say those things? Didn't she know they were all just trying to help her? Well, no matter what she thought, he couldn't just stand there bashing her caregivers. But perhaps this angry torrent was aimed at her abusers rather than Autumn's friends, families and nurses.
"We just wanted to help. I mean, your mom's friends have given you enough trouble, so we wanted to try to intercept her. Jenni got wind of it, and she told Lance, who explained it to the rest of us. We just figured it would be easier for you not to have to worry about extra danger."
At this point, the psychologist entered with medication.
Autumn was distracted when Jaycee entered, and Jamison had a moment to think about what she had said. As Autumn and Jaycee talked, Jamison tried to enter into her "lens." She was right. The fact that they didn't tell her anything probably wasn't the best thing to do. They should have told her about the increased danger and then continued with the plan. Upon this realization, Jamison determined to be her advocate.
"...some Ativan during this--" Jaycee was saying. Jamison had to make sure they were giving Autumn this choice and not just taking over her body.
"What?" he asked, a little more sharply than he had intended. Autumn seemed to understand his new revelation and his true purpose. He was relieved to see her reassuring smile.
"I said," Jaycee began again, "you told me about the anxiety and intense sadness you are having trouble controlling. A lot of stuff has taken place, so your emotions are completely understandable. You also said you would be willing to try some medication to see if it would help. I have some Ativan, which can begin to help right away. We're also going to try Cymbalta, which could take a little time to work. Cymbalta is often given to treat depression and anxiety. Remember that this doesn't mean you'll be on these meds for life. They can just help to stabalize everything as you work through the considerable obstacles."
Jamison was shocked! As Jaycee had said, these things were quite understandable, and Jamison had to admit that he had expected them. What surprised him was that Autumn had made no mention of this. He smiled as he realized she, too, was trying to protect him. She didn't want to burden him. I guess that's what this sacrificial love thing is all about, he thought as he prepared to speak.
"I want to help you through all aspects of this thing. However, I need you to tell me when things like this happen," Jamison hoped his words didn't come out sounding like recrimination.
"But you already have so much going on. This is stuff I can handle without bothering you with it. You don't need any more stress, and you already do so much to help me." Autumn sighed with frustration. She wanted to continue to comfort her friend, but she knew she'd soon fall asleep. She had been missing a great deal of that of late, and it was finally catching up with her. Maybe her friends knew her better than she knew herself. For certainly knowing about the most recent danger would have robbed her of sleep and some peace. She knew that God was ultimately in control. Still, God would not condemn her for worrying and for battling this constant anxiety. She closed her eyes, even knowing her unfinished statement hung in the air between the two friends.
Jamison heard Autumn's words, and they were the very reasons for his own justification. He hadn't mentioned anything about Virginia because Autumn already had enough to deal with. He was glad they had completely opened their hearts to each other. As he watched her lose the battle to sleep, he did not wonder about her unfinished thought or struggle with any negativity regarding her actions and words. Nothing could break their bond, not even death. Jamison wouldn't think about Autumn's death. After all, she was to begin a new treatment, and the oncologist and surgeon were optimistic. This could give her a better quality of life, and Jamison, along with all of Autumn's caregivers, friends and family would do everything possible to give her the best quality of life.


Chapter 116: the Last Memory
(by NativeRose, added on 17 February 2009 03:27 PM)


It was the day before Autumn's surgery. She had been on the Ativan for a week; they were to give it to her until the day of the surgery. Of course, she didn't notice a difference with her Cymbalta yet, but Jaycee and Melody said it would take time. She was thankful for any relief. Jaycee noted Autumn's restlessness on this particular day and suggested a pleasant surprise. All of those who helped to care for Autumn, including the security guards, had a great time planning the "party" of sorts. They couldn't wait to see Autumn's reaction. This was a person who needed something different, creative and enjoyable.

Autumn was just finishing her breakfast when Kambra and Katelyn Corbin entered. The last time Autumn had seen the chaplain and his family was the day after her mother had died. What were they going to reveal this time? Her dread soon turned to joy when Kambra spoke and Katelyn extended the package she was carrying.
"We have a surprise for you today, so we came to help you get dressed," Kambra was saying. Autumn saw Carrie the charge nurse come in with an interesting outfit. Carrie smiled conspiritoraly at the other women in the room before she left.
"Get ressed? Am I going somewhere today?"
"Yes ma'am," Judith said quite properly. All of the girls laughed, for they knew Judith to be one of the most lighthearted, sensetive people.
Katelyn held up the different type of hospital gown with great flourish. That was interesting. It was flannel, not thin cotton. It had lace across the bodice and snaps on the sleeves.
"This one is designed so that you can put it on without having to remove the IV," Katelyn explained as she untied the cotton gown Autumn wore.
"Oh, thank God," Autumn said, making the others smile. Judith helped Autumn put the flannel gown on without doslodging the IV. Then came the hair and makeup paraphanalia.
"Wow...you mean I can actually feel like a girl today?" she asked, clearly delighted. They put blush on her, but she refused eye shadow or mascara, stating that her eyes were sensetive to everything. Kambra carefully combed the hair Autumn had and styled it using hair gel. They wouldn't be able to use hair bands, pins, etc. As Kambra finished her hair, Katelyn presented Autumn's favorite pajama pants and new slippers.
"Apparently I'm going out in style," Autumn said. By now, she was powerfully curious. Whatever was this all about. After Autumn was dressed, her "carriage" entered with figurative footmen in tow.
Josiah and Abbie transferred Autumn into the wheelchair. It was her own chair, but someone had decorated it quite splendidly. They had attached an umbrella to shield her head and face from the sun. It was bedecked with glitter and ribbons of Autumn's favorite color. Judith buckled her seat belt, and Jamison presented a new blanket.
"I did some detective work," Kambra said, "so we decided to make a new blanket for you!" Katelyn finished. After this, a nurse was summoned. Sariah pushed her wheelchair, while moving the IV pole along behind them. A group of friends led Autumn and Sariah out of the hospital to a peaceful garden. This therapeutic location would provide a much-needed respite and distraction. There, Jason, Jamison and Kyle and Kendall Corbin waited with approved foods.
"A party? whatever for?" Autumn asked.
"Well, you needed a little low-key excitement, especially on a day when your next treatment option can drive you crazy! I know how nature is soothing for you, so we figured this would be the perfect place," Abbie explained as she approached. She reached down to move a corner of the blanket that was about to end up under a wheel. Autumn's friends knew this would have to be a short outing, but they were determined to make it fun. Thus, they had made sure food was prepared so Autumn could eat and enjoy it right away. They scheduled this little party around med schedule. After all, no one wanted to interrupt her celebration with medications.
"It's a...a carrot cake with cream cheese icing! Wow...it has been forever since I have eaten this..." her voice trailed off as she leaned forward to read the words written into the icing: "Happy spiritual birthday!" What was that all about?
"You told me that you were baptized on this date three years ago," Jamison explained, "so it was really neat to be able to celebrate that, especially on the day before your surgery." Autumn couldn't speak, for the tears she couldn't prevent spilled down her face.
"And after all of the hard work you put into it," she muttered. Katelyn and Kambra just laughed and said, "We'll gladly create more artwork. You need to be able to feel like a girl." All of the nurses had returned to the oncology floor, so Autumn immediately noted Josiah's arrival. Does it have to end so soon? This thought was followed by mental rebuke. She had enjoyed the last two hours with her friends. And she should complain that it had to come to an end as Josiah approached to give her 3:00 meds? This, too, was to be handled differently. Josiah handed her meds, but the typical water was not forthcoming. Instead, he produced soft ice cream.
"What a way to take meds!"
"Just don't get any ideas, Miss Autumn!" Josiah teased.
"You mean, you won't give me ice cream every time? You ruin the fun!" She stuck her tongue out at her nurse, who feigned affront.
"I'm just going to leave you here." Josiah turned as if to go, and Autumn and her friends laughed at his pretense.
"You changed your mind?" Autumn asked. Then she affected a smug expression and added, "you just can't live without me!" Josiah pushed her wheelchair and IV pole back to Autumn's room. When she was back in bed, she turned to thank her friends, but they weren't finished yet. They left her in the flannel gown and pajama pants, as she told them it would be the most comfortable thing in which to sleep. Then, when the men exited, Judith and Katelyn produced lotion.
"Compliments of Marla (the x-ray technician) and Carrie," Katelyn said. As Judith and Katelyn massaged lotion into her arms and legs, Kambra added lavender-scented linen spray to her sheets and pillows.
"this place won't smell like a hospital room for awhile. Are we sure this won't cause any sort of reaction?"
"When we planned this thing, we made sure everything would be safe. Your nurses had a splendid time helping us plan this for you." Judith tucked the blankets around Autumn and quietly exited with her daughters.
Although Autumn thanked everyone profusely, her radiant smile was all they needed. They wanted her to remember the fun she had that day, rather than the anxiety before her surgery.


Chapter 117: Jenni's surprise
(by jennifer palmer, added on 9 March 2009 11:36 AM)


Jenni stood outside her apartment the cold in one hand and a piece of paper in the other along her cane. "Oh lord don't let the cops ask any questions, I aint got the stuff to explain this one" she thought moving faster towards the actor's store. She stopped opened the door and a bell rang as she walked in. "Hey, yall got any of those fake blood bullets left," she asked walking up to the counter, "Yep" the man replied looking at the colt. "All right, kinda laid this chick out and had none, need to be prepared this time. Plus i scared some people so yeah." Jenni sounded amused remembering the mess. "Ya want the kind with the fake blood on the outside or the ones that break and drop the fake blood out?" The man's question took her by surprise so she said "give me two of both." He smiled taking her money and coming back with four boxes of ammo. He smiled "these each have fifty rounds so have fun and Jenni, dont try to shoot crazy ladies anymore." Jenni gasped, "what are you talking about i didn't try to shoot her, i was gonna kill her!" The man smiled "no you wouldn't of" he sighed. "You wouldn't hurt anyone unless you were taking your last breath and you know it." Jenni smiled and turned to go, "I will catch ya later, i gotta show this to a sick girl so she don't think I am carrying an actual gun." The man smiled, "let me know how that goes and Jenni don't scare her."
Jenni headed for the hospital Lance had told her he was going to be there and she figured all of them should see the gun and everything first. She balanced everything in her arms and read the directions and floor information on the sheet of paper she was carrying and kept going, she ran through the doors cane swinging wildly and found the elevators with no trouble. Jenni arrived on the floor and found the nurse's station everyone was there Lance and Jason looked scared but Jenni just flashed them a smile and set everything on the table. "ok yall, this is a fake gun so nothing is going to get broken but i recommend having house keeping on backup in here when i am done. got two i am gonna show ya the differences are pretty clear." Jenni loaded one of the rounds with the fake blood on the outside and shut the door, "Does this door have a window?" "Um no," Lance said worry in his tone. "OK then lets see." Jenni cocked the gun held it by her left shoulder e everyone moved she knew she had a straight shot the firing range had taught her that she adjusted her stance leveled the gun at the door. Then she fired! She felt the shock and kick of the gun and heard a splat but a bang as if it were a real bullet being fired. "How the Lance said, "Oh the blood is on the outside of that one in a lose cartridge type thing that falls after the shot" Jenni explained. "now this one is what i would of used the other day if she had gone any further, This one has the stuff on the inside. These are more real sounding and visually so yeah." Jenni loaded the second ammo and went through the same method she leveled off and fired, the blast louder than the first and her hand shook. The bullet struck then exploded fake blood going everywhere and everyone seemed to stare. "Oh my god Jenni," this from jason "Dear lord, let me never mess with her," This from lance who stared at the mess of fake blood and spent fake shell casings and shattered bullets.
Jenni smiled, so that woman wouldn't of been hurt, but she would of thought she was, Jenni said her smile radiant. Dang, Jamison said his eyes wide. Oh lord in heaven Jenni! This from abby who looked scared, I certainly hope no one out there thought guns were being shot off in here Jacob said. With you here, Jenni said I seriously doubt it. She smiled and put everything away then said "so get me some supplies and i will show ya how easy clean up is on this stuff." She grinned as lance handed her stuff she quickly wiped up the fake blood and showed them how the bullets had worked. They stood in shock trying to piece it all together then a pager went off. Well, pagers are going off so guess the fun is over, how sad. Jenni said with a sigh. She made sure she had fully cleaned up the mess as they walked out Jason noticed some of the fake blood on the door frame and wiped it off with his sleeve he noticed the stuff was a jelly then he put it in his palm and hit it hard as if it were shot from a gun and came from the person it ran in a liquid form instead of the gelly it had formerally been. He stared ahead of him amazed, well at least its not a real gun like we feared he thought walking in to Autumn's room.


Chapter 118: The Brain Basics
(by NativeRose, added on 3 April 2009 03:22 PM)


Autumn was safely in the recovery room, so the neurosurgeon took this time to talk to her anxious family and friends. the group had been praying together, but when Jamison saw the surgeon enter, he jumped out of his chair.
"So what happened?" He tried to convince himself that the grim look on her face was just typical doctor "procedure." It didn't work, and he immediately knew something was terribly wrong. Jason and Sariah seemed to sense the boy's distress, so they moved to stand next to him.
"We were able to successfully remove all of the brain tumor, but in doing that, we removed some of the--"
"What?" Lance exclaimed.
"Ain't that girl been through enough?" Jenni muttered in disgust.
"We removed parts of the language centers, which are generally thought to be left side lateralized. Because the tumor was in the frontal and temporal lobes of the left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex--"
"Speak English, doc!" Jenni said in exasperation, but the doctor didn't seem to hear her.
"...so portions of both Broca's area and Wernicke's area were damaged."
"What is that supposed to mean?"Jamison asked, clearly frustrated. The three nurses just looked at each other and shook their heads. Why did the neurosurgeon have to get all technical. While the nurses had an understanding of what he was talking about, they knew that wasn't what the family and friends wanted to hear. They just wanted to know that she was all right. They didn't care about the neurological terms.
"Therefore," the doctor continued, unimpeded by Jamison's question, "This will result in a combination of forms of aphasia. there can be problems with agraphia, agramatism and alexia. Depending on the exact location, we could see some apraxias or agnosias. It will be impossible to determine the extent until neuropsychological evaluations are conducted."
"Enough!" Jamison and Jenni exclaimed in unison.
"this makes no sense...just tell us what's going on in real language." the doctor's superior attitude changed to condescension.
"She will have difficulty with language," he said slowly, "and there isn't any way to know until tests are done." Abbie, Josiah and Sariah were able to tell that the others were on the verge of verbally exploding. Sariah, the charge nurse, quickly dismissed the surgeon, who was only too glad to leave this bunch of laymen.
"What in blazes was that all about?" Jamison asked.
"I hate it when they gotta show me their smarts," Jenni complained, "maybe that doctor has brain damage!"
"I worked on a neuro floor in the beginning of my medical career, so I can explain the stuff in a way that will be relevant and understandable," Josiah said.
"An aphasia is a problem with language--reading, writing, speaking and comprehending language. A combination of these things can be present."
"What was all the graph paper, graham cracker and Alexis stuff?" Jamison asked. The room erupted in reserved laughter, which quieted as Josiah began to explain.
"the "graham cracker" thing you spoke of is called agramatism, and it means there is a lack of comprehending and employing proper syntax--that is, grammatical rules are no longer present. the "graph paper" is agraphia, and that means the person will have trouble with writing. Finally, the deal with "Alexis" is alexia, and that's a problem with reading. Your introduction to brain basics is good, since it's something we're all going to have to understand in order to help her. However, that was a horrible way for the doctor to explain it to you."
"It's like he needed to let us know that he's more intelligent than we are because we don't have our medical licenses and an understanding of all that stuff--the brain lingo, that is," It was the first time Jason had spoken since the doctor's arrival.
"Don't worry about someone like that. Her neurologist can take over from here, and we know she will treat us with more respect," Sariah said.
"It's like he depersonalized Autumn with technical terms like that, and I won't have it!" Jason continued.
"I agree...she is not a medical journal or something. She's a person, and those big words won't change her...or the difficult job ahead of us..." Jamison's voice trailed off as he left the room to join Autumn in recovery. He was determined to make sure she was not going to be surrounded by all those impersonal things. The doctor might label her with fourteen syllables, but that didn't change who she was, nor did it change Jamison's commitment to her.


Chapter 119: Waking
(by Blake G, added on 18 April 2009 05:33 PM)


Autumn felt as if she were floating. No doubt, that was due to the setatives she had been given before. Groggilly, she opened her eyes. Carefully turning her head, she spotted Jamison sitting beside her bed. She wanted to say hello, ask him about what had happened during her sergery, where everyone else was, but the words wouldn't come to her. She heard him speaking, but didn't understand what he said. A tear rolled down her cheek, and he gently wiped it away.

Autumn pointed at the door, trying to ask where everyone was, were they outside, waiting?

A nurse entered the room and came to stand beside Autumn. Autumn pointed at the paper in her hands, and the nurse tilted it so she could see it. It was a picture, a picture of her friends in the waiting room. At the bottom was a line, perhaps a path to the hospital door, but Autumn didn't quite understand its significants. She understood the picture, though, and desperately wanted to thank the nurse who had shown her what she had wanted to know. The nurse smiled, pointed at herself, and in a calm, clear voice, said, "Morgan."

Autumn blinked in confusion, not understanding the word the nurse had said. Was it a name, was it an idea? What was it? The nurse paciently said her name again, though Autumn didn't realize that was what she was attempting to tell her. On the nurses third attempt, Autumn thought she understood the nurse was trying to tell her what her name was. Though Autumn understood that idea, she didn't understand what to do to repeat it, how to thank the nurse for her help. She still didn't know what the nurses name was, wanted to see her friends.

As the setatives wore off, Autumn's mind became more focused. She felt slightly dizzy, but not as disoriented as she would have expected herself to be. She felt a pain in her head, though it was dulled by the drugs being pumped through her blood. Jamison and the nurse helped Autumn in to her wheel chair, but this one was different, more like a stretcher on wheels. They rolled her and the I.V. poll out of the hospital room and in to the waiting room.

Her friends and family crowded around her, all of them speaking, trying to ask her questions, all of them concerned. The sounds were unrecognizable and confusing to Autumn, and she found them frightening. She felt the cool, strong fingers of the nurse grip her left hand in a calming jesture. They had stopped as the nurse looked in to Autumn's eyes. The look was strong, but not intimidating. Autumn focused on it, breathing deeply, trying to calm her rising fear and panick. This woman had communicated with her, had given her pictures to see. She could help her.

"If everyone stays quiet, you can come back to Autumn's room with us. Don't overwelm her." The nurse said, though Autumn understood little.

The prosession was quiet as they continued on, and Autumn realized the nurse had probably told everyone to remain quiet. Autumn was thankful for that, and her face formed a slight smile. The nurse smiled back at her, her eyes full of joy. Still quite tired, Autumn felt herself falling asleep, but was determined to stay awake until they reached her room. When the door opened and her stretcher was rolled in to the room, Autumn only caught a glance before she fell asleep, her face pieceful.

"She'll probably be asleep for a few hours." Morgan said, her and Jamison gently placing her in to her bed.

"Is she going to be ok?" Jamison asked.

"Yes, she'll eventually recover, but it's going to take time." Morgan said.

"How did you communicate with her?" Jenny asked, her voice curious and jealous.

"I have a daughter who also has language difficulty. She was in a car accident two years ago. I had to learn patients, I had to learn the techniques required to communicate with her. It was frustrating at first, but now, I have the experience and knowledge to help Autumn. I'm going to do my best, but remember, no more than one person talk at a time when you're with her. It can be overwelming for her." Morgan said.

"Your daughter... What's her name... And can we talk with her, get her side of the story? Maybe she could help Autumn too." Jamison said hopefully.

"That's a wonderful idea." Morgan said with a smile. "And to answer your first question, her name is Michelle."


Chapter 120: Just How?
(by NativeRose, added on 19 April 2009 01:55 AM)


Autumn was thankful that she didn't have...what was it that doctor called it?...anyway, she could still see and recognize things. and that nurse--she was someone new. Autumn couldn't remember a Morgan. She would have to ask Sariah about that, but how could she possibly do that?

"Apparently her occipital lobe wasn't damaged, so she doesn't have any sort of visual agnosia..." Jamison sighed as he listened to the doctor talk. By this time, he was getting used to her speech, and Josiah was helping him to understand just what all this stuff meant.
"the visual cortex is located in the occipital lobe, and the agnosias we see with that are--"
"What in blazes are you talking about, lady?" Jenni asked. "Okay, we all know you're working with ten years of school and many as a neurosurgeon, but we don't care. can you just get her neurologist down here? She can tell us what's really going on."
The surgeon left the room and quickly summoned Autumn's neurologist...she would have to track her down. Bridget, her neurologist was either in emergency or on the neuro floor--7.
"Oh bother," she grumbled, "I have other things to do."

Josiah opened his mouth to answer Jamison's unasked question, but as if on cue, one who understood this only too well entered. This had to be Morgan's daughter--the one who had a TBI.
Morgan initiated eye contact with Autumn, scribbled something on a sheet of paper and then handed it to the stranger. The girl handed it to Autumn. So this is Michelle! Jamison detected the anticipatory expression as Autumn held the paper out to him.
"I'm Michelle, and I am four years older than you. My mom told me what happened, so..." She placed her backpack at the foot of Autumn's bed. She rummaged inside until she found just the right tool. She had noticed that the younger girl would soon fall asleep, so she would introduce this one thing.
"I don't need visual language implements anymore, so I thought they might help you. this is one of several picture books." She held up the simple book. "We figured that would be easier than a communication board or the ProTalker...um, that's something electronic...anyway, you can start off with this one. Your friends helped us figure out what things need to go in it, so we just took my own pictures out and put symbols in for you." Michelle stopped and remove the only one of her pictures left. She replaced it with something autumn could identify. "And...there are Braille labels under each picture so Jenni can read." She finished as she indicated the series of dots underneath a picture. She touched the picture and ran her fingers across the Braille label. She had no idea what that was all about. She had enough trouble comprehending words--she wouldn't try to learn this new "language" of sorts. Michelle spoke all of these things aloud so Autumn's family and friends would be able to understand, but she accompanied the speech with the things she remembered from speech and occupational therapy. It took a considerable amount of time, because she said more complex things than what she "signed." she didn't condescend to Autumn's so-called defect; she just knew it would be impossible for autumn to understand rapid-fire language in any form. Michelle had opened the book to the page devoted to bedtime paraphanalia since she could detect the girl's complete exhaustion. it was perfect, since Autumn decided she needed another blanket. It seemed that Michelle really knew what she was doing.
Michelle turned to the remaining people in the room to explain the other things she had. "There are some visual cues that she can use until her physical therapist can make some for her. They tell me that she does have some apraxia, meaning she can't remember movements to perform tasks. since it's the second day after her surgery, you have no idea just how severe this thing is, but I figured I would bring all of my stuff anyway. You see, I was driving some of the people home after youth group. We're in the neighborhood where these kids live in poverty and gang violence is normal. In order to get them involved in something constructive, we arranged ways for them to go to those types of events...you know, lock-ins and stuff. So anyway, my mom told you something about the car accident. I have no idea what happened, and I don't remember the first few weeks of treatment. I don't have too many speech problems anymore, though you can all tell that I occasionally stutter and lose my train of thought...welcome to traumatic brain injury. Sometimes I don't understand it, but God has been so merciful to me. And I can see a little of how He is going to use my own trauma to help someone else. I'm glad I kept all of that stuff. Anyway, there are prompt cards, more books, a communication board with a bedrail holder so she can always reach it and finally, a GoTalk Talker. That's an electronic device so more complex messages can be delivered, but she probably won't be ready to use that for several weeks. Since that doctor didn't really tell you anything of great use, I will...the brain is an awesome thing. I's "flexible" in a sense, and new pathways can be created when things get damaged, but it's important for you to understand that she might not regain all of her communication skills, especially since she had radiation and surgery..."
"But they were able to remove it...the cancerous tissue in her brain," Jenni said quietly.
"Yes, but at what cost?" The harsh tone that crept into Jamison's tone was quite surprising. Still, the others supposed it was only normal. He had been strong, loyal, fearlessly faithful and steadfast, despite the enormous pressure he had to be dealing with, and he had done so admirably.
"Hang in there, and know that I'll be praying for all of you. I mean, I truly understand, and I'm not just saying that." And with that, Michelle left the room. She had just communicated hope to Autumn without verbally saying a thing. Then she demonstrated immense courage when she shared her story and agreed to help Autumn. Morgan and Michelle were still essentially strangers, but they had given Autumn the gift of a different kind of voice. They had infused hope into the dark aftermath for those who cared for Autumn. This was all evidence of God's grace and a reminder that He was with them in the midst of this quicksand.


Chapter 121: The amazing recovery
(by Yasmin, added on 21 April 2009 08:22 PM)


As the weeks went by Autum began to start to speak again and under stand what her nurses were saying to her. The reason why this was was because of michelle had been coming in every day and teaching autum how to use the books and specilised equipement. Everybody was so amazed and jason was so proud of her.


Chapter 122: Bittersweet Music of Syllables
(by NativeRose, added on 25 April 2009 11:26 PM)


Something big was coming. They could all feel it, but no one had a clue as to what was going on. Autumn grew more agitated as the hours of tension built, but no one knew what to say and do. An extraordinarily large group of people crowded into Autumn's room when the news finally came.
Autumn was sitting propped up in bed, and she and Jamison were talking using a communication board. People seemed to trickle in by couples until all of Autumn's friends were there. Sariah and Josiah, Jason and Abbie, Lance and Jenni were there. Zachariah the new oncology nurse and Nancy Autumn's favorite x-ray technician followed soon after and were joined by Marla, Carrie and Autumn's favorite CNA, Morgan. Yes, that was who Morgan had become--Autumn's favorite certified nurse's assistant. They had been talking in quiet, tense groups, but all activity ceased when the neurosurgeon entered. She must have seen the expressions of dismay, for she started with, "Bridget...that is...Dr. OConnor has been transferred." Oh no! So that was why the neurosurgeon had started working with Autumn and her neurologist hadn't been seen since before the surgery--two weeks ago! But they couldn't focus on that for long.
"All of the cancerous tissue has been removed," the doctor paused, perhaps to let them digest that. At first, silence pervaded, and what came next was quite unexpected by all.
"Cake baby shoe!" The exclamation was Autumn's first coherent phrase since the surgery. It didn't make sense, but they were words.
"What?" a chorus of voices asked, while the surgeon looked on in bored indifference.
"We see this a lot. Sometimes aphasic patients will speak nonsense words, and sometimes--"
"Cake baby shoe!" Autumn interrupted.
"they repeat the same phrase at odd intervals, and it seems--"
"Cake baby shoe!"
"to be the only thing they can say. So while the tumor is gone, the effects could linger...like the paralysis. I'm sorry to say this, but--"
"Did you hear that?" Jenni turned to Lance. "It's gone!" While the others erupted in exclamations, Jamison stared intently at Autumn. Why wasn't she responding? She just looked at him, seemingly unaware of what had just happened. She glanced around the room and then cast a confused expression upon him. Apparently Morgan noted the action.
"Wait," she said, raising her hand for silence.
"you might want to consider putting her in a nursing home when she leaves the hospital." Jason was The first to note the doctor's phrase...while Morgan was trying to explain to Autumn that the cancer was gone, the doctor rambled on about putting her in a nursing home.
"What?" Abbie interrupted the surgeon's "lecture."
"I said--"
"Stop!" Jamison wouldn't let the doctor continue. "She's the one we're discussing here. Can't you wait long enough for someone to let Autumn know what you're talking about? I mean, you're treating her."
"Listen here, kid," the doctor glared at Jamison, "I'm here to report this. Y'all can talk about it later. I'm here to tell you what you need to know in the most expedient fashion. I have things to do, and the rest of you can figure out how to tell her later!" While Jamison stared at her in surprised fury, Jason and Sariah spoke to denounce her.
"First you tell me my daughter is going to live, and then you tell me it's best to let some strangers handle her life?" Jason began.
"Well, her paralysis and inability to speak coherently will leave you all with your hands full. And if you want any sort of life aside from caring for her, you'll want to secure some kind of outside help." Sariah opened her mouth to speak, and Jamison wrenched away from her comforting hold. In response to his obvious distress, she had put an arm around him. He shrugged this off and marched toward the neurosurgeon.
"Listen lady, she might not be a person to you, but it's different with us!"
Morgan had been explaining all of this to Autumn, but the doctor had been oblivious to this. With an anguished cry, Autumn yanked the board out of Morgan's hand, shoved it in the doctor's face and pointed at the picture of herself.
"Yeah, I know that's you," the doctor said, stepping away.
"Do you get it yet, lady? Although she might not understand everything you're saying, she senses your disinterest...she wants you to treat her like a person, too." This was the first time morgan had even acknowledged the doctor's presence.
"I do not have to put up with this." She left, stating that she would send the hospital psychologist to "deal" with them.
Jamison stared after her, looking as if he was ready to do battle for Autumn with his fists. That monster...she had just given the best possible news, but she wouldn't wait long enough for someone to tell Autumn, and she certainly wasn't going to waste her time trying to talk to Autumn herself.
"She's not going to live in a nursing home!" the adamant declaration came from Abbie.
"Of course not!" several others agreed. Once again, the room grew silent when Jaycee, Autumn's psychologist, entered.
"I just heard about what happened, and she'll start working with--" She stopped as an unfamiliar person entered. However, the newcomer wasn't unknown to everyone.
"Dr. Clay!" Morgan was the one to make the odd introduction.
"Morgan," the man acknowledged her as he walked toward Autumn.
"Wait a minute!" Jason and Jamison said in unison.
"He's the one who worked with Michelle, so I know things will be different here." Morgan, who had been holding the communication board, put it back in the bedrail holder, signed something to Autumn and left.
" After the doctor officially introduced himself, He clarified the previous doctor's disastrous attempted message.
"As she said, the whole tumor was removed, but you'll still need to continue treatment to kill any remaining cancer cells. The good news...at least as far as we can tell...the good news is that you will be able to go home. You're..." His voice trailed off as Autumn gasped and beamed at him. Unlike the arrogant neurosurgeon, this man had taken the time to explain it to Autumn and to let others help communicate it to her. She finally got the message...she wasn't going to die here in this place! She could go home, wherever that was going to be. She knew she would still have to stay in the hospital for a time to continue treatments, but it was enough just to know that she would go home sometime soon.


Chapter 123: Preparations of Hope
(by NativeRose, added on 29 April 2009 03:10 AM)


Dr. Clay the neurologist and Dr. Ashley the oncologist told Autumn she would be able to go home in three weeks if there were no complications. It was time to figure out how to make Autumn's transition as easy as possible. She would have to continue with outpatient chemotherapy and radiation treatment, but she could finally go home. Where exactly would that be?

It was decided that Autumn would live with Jason and Abbie. Jamison volunteered to act as Autumn's personal care attendant, but another woman would be needed to help with the more intimate aspects of her care. And that attendant came in the form of Michelle. Morgan was a certified nurse's assistant at the hospital, so she wouldn't be able to continue with Autumn's care. Michelle and Autumn had become friends during the last weeks, and when Michelle discovered that Autumn would be going home, she offered to help. Unlike Autumn, she was able to recover from her TBI fully, with the exception of some slight short-term memory loss. Still, she remembered what it was like to need help with everything. Her mother had learned all she could, and she had been an absolutely amazing parent, caregiver, and yes, even friend. Michelle was determined to pass the same kindness along to someone who had suffered so much. For while the brain tumor was gone, she still had a long recovery ahead of her. There was no way to know if she would achieve remission or if the metastatic cancer would continue to eat her body. No matter what happened, Michelle, Morgan, Jamison, Jason and the nursing staff were willing to stick with Autumn until the end, whatever that would be.

Jenni and Lance were thrilled when they discovered that Autumn would be going home. They, too, offered their assistance. It turned out that Lance had some construction experience, so he worked with contractors and physical/occupational therapists to remodel Jason's home. Jenni and Michelle were already working out a schedule to figure out who could help Autumn on specific days. They were able to organize the daily care needs around their combined work schedules. None of the extra helpers would accept payment for their time and physical assistance.
Automatic door openers were installed in all of the relevant places, and Jason and Abbie made sure ramps were in the appropriate locations. They got a full electric bed for her use and installed a vertical pole beside it to help with her transfers and balance. A bath lift was installed so she could enjoy the relaxing "soak" without having to be transferred into the bathtub. They also purchased a shower chair, installed grab bars and an adjustable shower head so she could handle as much of the bathing task as possible...when she was physically able to do so. All of the faucets in the home were replaced with automatic censors so she wouldn't have to deal with gripping and turning handles and knobs.
Although she would be quite limited (at least in the beginning), all of these things were modifided so that, when she was ambulatory--able to use the wheelchair on her own, that is--she could be as independent as possible. Everyone looked forward to the time when she could live apart from the hospital setting. She would still have to go to the hospital some three times a week for treatment, but the situation would be far different. She would have a place to call home, and she could be free of the hospital that had become her life for so long. It wouldn't be long now...just three weeks, assuming there wouldn't be any complications or setbacks. She would be welcomed into aplace free of her mother's alcoholism and Lynn's abusive boyfriends, and she could regain some semblance of peace. That was what Autumn needed more than anything.


Chapter 124: The Unexpected Gift
(by NativeRose, added on 8 July 2009 12:18 AM)


Miguel Sanchez pushed his twin sister Maria's wheelchair through the oncology ward. He just couldn't believe they were in this setting. He had thought they were done. But now they were saying the cancer had returned. The problem was that his family had just moved to Apple Valley from Alamogordo, New Mexico. It was unfortunate that they hadn't known Maria's cancer would return; now she would be in an unfamiliar place. Miguel glanced up in time to see a boy of about his own age pushing a girl down the hall ahead of them. As oncology nurses took the girls away for their respective chemo treatments, Miguel watched the nurse's interaction with the girl.
"Oh no, it's you again!" the girl said in mock disgust to the nurse who had greeted her.
"Now wait a minute, Miss Autumn. I'm the one who's in charge!"
"Oh, Josiah, you're so crazy!" Miguel sighed, wishing Maria had some sort of close connection like that. he stared at the ground in contemplative silence, so he was startled when someone touched his shoulder and addressed him.
"Hi, I'm Jamison. I just saw you standing here alone and wondered if you're in the same predicament as me."
"How do you figure that?" Miguel asked a little sharply. What right did this boy have to bother him? He was just meddlesome.
"I saw that you were here with someone, taking her to treatment. And I recognized the sadness; your expression mirrors my own sentiments." Okay, so maybe this Jamison character really wanted to help. Maybe Miguel could help him in return. After all, it was always better to travel difficult roads with someone. He offered a tentative smile and began to speak.
"Yeah, that's my twin sister, Maria. I'm Miguel, and we just moved here from the southwest part of the country. My dad is in the military, so we're often moving, but it was just two weeks after we moved here that we found out that Maria's cancer had returned. If we had known, maybe Mom, Maria and I would have stayed in Alamogordo. Still, money is tight, and..." His voice trailed off. He didn't need to share his problems with this person, who probably had enough worries of his own with his friend's cancer.
"Yeah, I understand. I truly comprehend your pain. Wile Autumn isn't my sister--she's the love of my life--I do understand how you feel. It's so difficult to watch someone you love suffer so greatly and not feel you can do a thing to help. She tells me that I'm more helpful than I can possibly understand, but I just don't know. I mean, if all I can do is hold her hand when they replace her IV, help her take her meds or sit beside her as she sleeps...well, it all seems so insignificant." Miguel could certainly understand Jamison's feelings.
"Yeah, I would trade places with Maria in an instant. I would take on her pain..." He was surprised when his lip began to quiver and his eyes filled with tears. He tried to turn away, but it was too late. Jamison put his hand on Miguel's shoulder, and the compassionate expression on his face spoke more than any words could have done. This was a person who truly understood Miguel's pain. Maybe they could become friends and support each other as they rallied around their loved ones. Miguel hadn't realized just how much he needed someone for support. He would never burden Maria or his parents with his thoughts and emotional turmoil, but this young man was someone who was offering just what he needed. Thank You, God, he prayed silently, before he raised his head to meet those eyes full of empathy.


Chapter 125: New Friends
(by NativeRose, added on 9 July 2009 09:05 PM)


Miguel, Maria and Manuela Sanchez were quite surprised to find that Maria would be moved into Autumn's hospital room. They would be together until Autumn was released. Miguel watched Jamison and Autumn in great fascination. He could see how much they loved each other, and he only wished Maria had a close friendship like that. He had no idea his prayer was to be answered so soon.

Miguel was pushing Maria back into to her hospital room after a treatment. He saw Autumn sitting in bed, laboriously writing something. She had her table in front of her with some sort of rubber mat. He noted that she was writing with one hand, and the rubber thing kept her paper from sliding around on the table. He was surprised when she reached in Maria's direction as they passed her bed. The girls couldn't reach each other, so Miguel took the paper. After he helped Maria get into her bed, he handed her the note.
"Do you want me to read it?" he asked her. She read the note and looked toward Autumn with tear-filled eyes. What had that girl written? Miguel wondered if he would have to do battle for his sister.
"Thank you," she managed before someone knocked on the door.
A young man in scrubs entered, so Miguel knew he must be some sort of hospital worker.
"I'll start with you, Miss Autumn. I know that you just can't wait for me to come and take vitals!" She laughed and turned toward the Sanchez twins. She pointed at the man in scrubs.
"Jordan," she said, then nodded toward Maria.
"Maria." she finished, and smiled at the twins.
"Thanks for introducing us. You did a great job!" Jordan said as he attached the blood pressure cuff. "Katie (the speech therapist) will be so proud of you!" When he finished documenting her vitals, he placed her chart in its holder and approached the girl he had not yet met.
:Hi, Maria. As Autumn said, I'm Jordan. I'm going to take your vital signs, okay?"
"Sure," Maria sighed. Then she turned away in disgust. Miguel was surprised that Jordan let her get away with greeting him like that. No one at the hospital in Alamogordo would have put up with it. Still, he had noticed that these people seemed to be different. They were all so kind and understanding, and they reached out to each other effortlessly.
"Hey, Autumn?" Maria asked. Autumn looked at her.
"I have a question for you, but will you be able to answer?" Autumn nodded and struggled to reach her communication board. Miguel turned to help her just as Jamison entered the room. Jamison went to her bed and handed her the board.
"that blasted neurosurgeon!" Jamison muttered. Autumn turned to him with a confused expression.
"that old surgeon came back to talk to you, I'm guessing. And she moved the holder for your board so it was out of your reach. She just doesn't care about...oh, never mind." He smiled at her and squeezed her hand.
"How can you be so happy? You seem to know all these people, and you all like each other! How does that work?" Maria asked when Autumn turned back to her. Jamison seemed to understand that the response would be a long one, and it would be more complex than what the communication board could convey. Those pictures and words were too limiting. He got the computer out of her wheelchair backpack and placed it before her. After he helped her to position her hand on the adaptive keyboard, she began to type: "It's my faith in God that keeps me going. there are days when I can't seem to hope for anything, days when I wish I would just die so I could be done with it."
"Yeah, I know what you mean!" Maria responded to what the computer said aloud.
"But you're so positive."
"Don't let me play you false! I'm not always like that...just ask Jamison! I'm sure I have put him through stuff I'm not even aware of." Jamison put his arm around her shoulders, but because she was facing Maria with her back to him, she didn't see his expression. Miguel saw the momentary flicker of pain and wondered just what the young man was thinking. Jamison clearly loved Autumn, and Miguel saw that he didn't regret sticking with her, even through whatever pain he was harboring. Maybe Miguel could be of some use to this man. He could at least extend the same offer of friendship and assistance.

He found the perfect opportunity to approach Jamison later that day. Jamison had just cut Autumn's food and helped to position her so she could eat independently.
"Do you need anything else right now?" he asked with patience Miguel had to admire. She shook her head, to which he responded, "Okay, I'm going to get some food." As he exited, Miguel turned to his sister, "I'm going to catch up with him. Do you need anything before I go?" She, too, shook her head. Miguel left the room and scanned the hallway for Jamison.

Miguel quietly approached Jamison's table, but he saw that the young man was praying, so he silently put his tray on the table and respectfully waited for Jamison to finish the prayer.
Jamison smiled when he noticed Miguel. He took the silent invitation and sat across from Jamison. He had to be no older than Miguel's nineteen years, but he seemed so much older. Here was a person who was clearly used to hardship.
"I have been thinking about your offer," Miguel began hesitantly, "and it would be great to have a friend who gets it."
"that's awesome, but there is more..." Jamison seemed to understand that Miguel had something more on his mind and invited him to speak freely with those simple words.
"When Maria asked Autumn about how she handled everything, I noticed an interesting expression on your face. It was when she was talking to Maria about causing you pain, and your expression indicated that she was right."
Jamison didn't know how to respond, but he was quite surprised when the whole thing just tumbled forth.
"It's not her fault. Sometimes she would lash out at me. It was a cover for the pain of the abuse at the hands of her mother and the good-for-nothing boyfriends. It was only in fear after the sexual assaults. I was comforted by the fact that she wasn't just rejecting me. She didn't want her dad or the male nurses, Zachariah and Josiah, around. Sometimes she even yelled at the female nurses she knew were just there to help her. Josiah, one of her nurses, encouraged me just by his actions. She would demand that he not touch her and state that she couldn't trust men. He never seemed to be insulted, and when he came to treat her or whatever, he would always ask. Sometimes she would let him, but at others, she would scream at him to leave the room. He explained to me that it would just take time, but that she would realize she could trust us. We just had to stick with her. I knew she didn't mean a thing she said, but sometimes it still hurt."
"You haven't told her any of this, have you?" Miguel could see that Jamison struggled with his emotion even now.
"Of course not! Why would I burden her with such a thing? Still, she knew. During the times when she was calm and lucid, she would often apologize, and I could see that she was tormented when she saw how something she said hurt me. She has always been intuitive like that. She just knows that stuff. It was amazing--the first time she let me hold her after a nightmare. It showed me that she still trusted me." Jamison stopped and smiled apologetically. "Wow. I didn't mean for it all to come out like that!"
"I'm sure you have had to hold it all inside for so long. Well, for what it's worth, I'm here for you." Miguel shook Jamison's hand. It was like a tangible symbol of the promise between the two men. They both desperately needed a friend with whom to share this burden. They could understand each other in ways that most people could not even begin to comprehend. Jamison still grasped Miguel's hand, and it just seemed natural to pray, "Thank You, Lord, for bringing us together today. You know how much we desperately need friends with whom to share this difficult time. thank You for seeing our needs and filling them, Lord. Keep our girls Autumn and Maria safe, Jesus. Be with them, and show them Your presence like never before. Calm their fears, and fill them with Your peace." Miguel had never heard anything like that in his life, and this Jamison just seemed to talk to his God naturally. It was so strange. Miguel found it interesting that Jamison included his sister in his prayers. After all, the Sanchez siblings were basically strangers, brought together by this terrible disease! this thing with a personal God was just way too weird, but it couldn't hurt anything, could it?


Chapter 126: Shark attack
(by RJ Sandefur, added on 28 December 2011 06:43 PM)


Auttomn was happy she was being releaced from the hospital! She was going home, and she knew her friends were planning a suprise for her! The next day, Auttom went to the beach. She'd not been to the beach in a long time. She swamm out to a sandbar, and thought about how wonderfull God's creation was. She was so deep in her thoughts that she didn't see the fin sticking up out of the water.The shark bit Auttom below the knee, and the pain was like nothing she'd ever felt before. When the shark finally let go, Jamison helped her to shore, and she was rushed to the hospital. "I'm sorry Jason and Leen, we're going to have to amputate her leg, we can't save it, unless a mericule takes place!


Chapter 127: What Happened!
(by NativeRose, added on 29 December 2011 06:04 PM)


Sariah Golden stormed into the cafeteria, where she saw Josiah eating with Jaycee. She marched toward the table and took a deep breath so she could speak--instead of scream--the news she had to tell.
"Sariah!" Josiah sprang from his chair and rushed to her. "What's wrong?" By this time, Jaycee had joined the group, and she was looking around the nearly-deserted cafeteria. Josiah and Sariah followed her gaze to the other four occupants sitting in the corner. Though they wouldn't be able to hear, Jaycee led the way to her office.
"Hasn't that girl been through enough already?" Sariah cried as soon as Jaycee closed the door. Two confused faces met her outburst.
"What are you talking about? WE just finished shifts." Jaycee said.
"Who's briliant idea was it to take Autumn swimming today?" Sariah demanded, though she knew they wouldn't have a clue.
"Um, start from the beginning?" Josiah suggested. Sariah took a deep breath and began.
"As you know, Autumn has just been released, and apparently her friend from school--you know, Anna--took her to the beach. She somehow convinced Jason and Abbie to let her take Autumn. Abbie was sleeping since, as you know, she's working this shift, and Jason left to take a business call. Apparently, Anna and her boyfriend decided it would be a terrific idea to put her in the water--"
"In the water!" Josiah cried.
"Yeah, and even though Jason was gone for twenty minutes, it was enough for a catastrophe to ensue. I don't know all of what happened, but I just saw Marla--you know, her favorite technician--pushing Autumn to the OR!"

At the same time, Anna and Alan, her boyfriend, sat bleary-eyed in the cafeteria, simply staring at each other. Jaycee's colleague, another psychologist named Kendra, approached to document the whole story.

At 9:00 AM this morning, Abbie and Anna dressed Autumn for her first day out after she was discharged from the hospital. Since Jason doesn't have a wheelchair van, he and Abbie transfered Autumn into their car for the beach trip. Abbie decided not to go along since it was already 1:00, and she was slated to work the 7:00 PM to 5:00 AM shift. When they got to the beach today, they parked Autumn in the shade and put an umbrella over her wheelchair to give her some protection from the wind. Anna and Alan went swimming, and Jason sat beside Autumn, reading one of her favorite books to her. At about 4:00, Jason had to leave to take a phone call, so Anna and Alan splashed to shore, breathless and excited.
"You know what? It would be fun to take Autumn out in the water!" Alan suggested.
"I'm not sure..." Anna seemed less certain that this would be okay.
"Yeah, we can put a life vest on her, and with two of us holding her, it should be just fine." Anna was convinced, so after they put a vest on her, they carried her to the water. Alan traveled ahead of Anna, who was holding Autumn upright. Alan took a little detour without telling Autumn and Anna; he would only be gone for a minute or so, and what could happen in that time? It was Anna who was talking to Autumn about God's creation. She didn't know how much Autumn understood, but she did know how Autumn felt about God. She had previously enjoyed nature, especially the ocean environment. Anna thought Autumn was enjoying whatever she was able to take in, based on the smile on her face. But in an instant, that changed to a grimmace, shocked expression and ended with a blood-curdling scream! Alan was only ten feet to the left with his back toward the two young girls, but he was so intent on the sea creatures he was watching, that he didn't notice a thing until he heard the scream. They rushed toward the shore and met Jason, who was frantically swimming out to where he heard the commotion. He had heard enough shrieks of pain in the previous year to recognize Autumn's distress immediately. Since he was most experienced with handling Autumn's emergency situations, he was on the phone as soon as his feet emerged from the water. In his haste to look for the approaching ambulance, he tripped over Autumn's wheelchair, but didn't even notice his bloody nose, bruised jaw and the bump on his forehead until one of the paramedics asked what happened and if he was all right.

This was where Anna and Alan's story ended, since they were separated from Autumn and Jason at this point. They rushed to Alan's car and followed the ambulance to the hospital, where they had just finished recounting this story to Kenfra.


Chapter 128: Decisions
(by NativeRose, added on 29 December 2011 06:25 PM)


Autumn had just been wheeled into a recovery room and and her family members, faithful nurses and friends had seen far too many times. Jamison sat beside Autumn's bed, holding her hand, thinking about all of the times he had done the same thing. He was the first person who had been permitted to see her after surgery, and the doctor went to inform the rest of the family and friends.
Carrie, the charge nurse, was covering Abbie's shift, so Jason and Abbie, Alan and Anna, Morgan and Michelle sat in the waiting room, anxiously awaiting a report.
"The below-the-knee amputation was successful," the doctor informed the agitated group.
"Oh, thank God!" Abbie exclaimed.
"What's next?" Jason asked.
"I can't believe this happened, and that we're responsible," Anna mumbled in complete despair.
"Well, we're going to put her on IV antibiotics, especially since she has a lowered immunity. Right now, she's neutropenic--"
"Neutro what?" Alan asked.
"Neutropenic--she has almost no ability to fight infection right now, so we're starting with one broad-spectrum antibiotic."

While Autumn was in surgery, the family made some important decisions. It was decided that, since she was still receiving cancer treatment and rehabilitation after the brain surgery, fitting her for, and starting use of a prosthesis would not be appropriate at this time. Jason and Abbie also decided that they would continue to care for Autumn when she was released. Their home was already accessible, and they had a team of personal and professional personal care attendants to assist her. Most importantly, they wanted her to be surrounded by people she loved and who loved her. She needed people she knew she could trust to care for her physically, emotionally and spiritually.

A tragic decision was also made that night after Anna and Alan saw Autumn in recovery.


Chapter 129: Irreversable
(by NativeRose, added on 29 December 2011 06:34 PM)


"...it was a murder-suicide." Kyle Corbin informed his family.
"What?" the chaplain's daughters, Katelyn, Kambra and Kendall, exclaimed.
"Oh, Lord Jesus!" his wife, Judith, cried.

Kyle had just been told that Anna and Alan had just been found dead. They had been so guilt-ridden that they decided death was the only acceptable punishment. Even though Autumn had survived the operation, they were told that, given her poor health, she might not survive any infections that could result. What if they, and not the cancer, were going to be the end of Autumn? Alan and Anna felt equally responsible, but Anna was harder on herself, since she was directly responsible for keeping Autumn safe. Thus, upon her request--or anguished demand--Alan killed her and then himself. Let God be their merciful Savior or righteous Judge. Now it was Kyle's job to tell Autumn and her family the latest in a string of horrible news. As Kyle, Judith and the Corbin daughters quietly filed out of the elevator and toward Autumn's room, Kyle wondered just how he would go about doing this.


Chapter 130: Autum meets her savior
(by RJ Sandefur, added on 29 December 2011 08:32 PM)


Kyle intered the room, and going over to the bed, he took Autum's hand. "I know what happened Pastor yle." Autum whispered softly. She' continued, "I'm now a messicinah Jew!" she said in a happy tone! "Berich Hasham!" Kyle said, so am I!" My kingdom hall expelled me, because I chose to get a blood transfution, and since you've been coming I'd been reading the scriptures, and I've found my peace with God!


Chapter 131: Return
(by NativeRose, added on 29 December 2011 09:24 PM)


It was two weeks later, and this was a big day for Autumn. She was going to be discharged once again. Her family, friends, health care team and Messianic community were all so thankful that there were no infections. They had been able to promptly and successfully treat a wound infection in the hospital, and Autumn had been fever-free for six days straight! Her white blood cell count had risen significantly, and she was no longer neutropenic.

Jason and Abbie had spent days preparing for this day. Some women from their Messianic congregation came to help clean and sanitize the house from top to bottom. The fully-adjustable hospital bed was in place in her decorated room. It had been repainted in her favorite colors with her favorite nature scenes painted on the walls and ceiling. Pictures of her family and friends were on the walls where she could easily see them from her bed. Everyone did their best to make sure this would be a pleasant environment for her. And finally, the big moment arrived.

As soon as Jason, Abbie and Autumn pulled into the driveway, Michelle appeared.
"Welcome home," she said, as she unstrapped Autumn's wheelchair. It had just been donated to the Hansen family by a family whose son had just died of exactly the same type of cancer Autumn had. At the bottom of the ramp, Morgan joined them with a banner that pictures of all the things in Autumn's room. And of course, dominating it was a picture of Autumn--one that was taken at her party the day before her brain tumor was removed. As they went into the house, Autumn smelled something familiar, but she couldn't figure out what it was. AS they passed the kitchen (though she didn't know what the room was called), she saw some lady preparing a...a...that's right! That's what she smelled! It was a chocolate cake!
"Hey, Autumn," said the strange person in the kitchen, "it's Judith, and I'm so glad you're home!"
"Do you want to go into the kitchen?" Michelle asked, turning in the doorway. Autumn nodded, but she seemed a little flustered when she saw two additional people there. Jamison and Kyle had been standing in the kitchen, talking with Judith.
"Surprise!" Kyle nearly shouted excitedly. He seemed to have forgotten that loud noise would not only startle Autumn, but it would probably induce or worsen a headache.
"Oh crap! I'm sorry..." he muttered contritely. His daughters struggled not to laugh about his error and with a mighty effort, were able to conceal the giggles. Each one came in bearing gifts. On the day of the shark attack, Json forgot the book he had been reading to Autumn, so Kendall had purchased a new copy for her. The twins, Katelyn and Kambra, remembered that she liked music, so they purchased CD's with her favorite artists. They all figured a CD player would be easier for her to operate when she was able; she could use it before she learned to read again, since she wouldn't have to decipher digital screens.

It was an hour after Autumn had gotten home from the hospital. Katelyn and Michelle had helped her with a bath, given that the cake-eating was kind of a messy operation. Now she was sitting propped up in bed as someone--she couldn't remember who--was putting lotion on her feet. She sighed contentedly and sleepily stared at the beautiful ceiling--with colors and designs she couldn't recognize. She thought it was beautiful anyway, and so thinking, she fell asleep.


Chapter 132: Reaching into the Night
(by Bethany Rose, added on 5 March 2012 09:36 AM)


It was a Wednesday, and Autumn's friends were figuring out who would help with respite care so Jason and Abbie could enjoy the weekend. Though they were going to stay at a place in town, it would still help them to feel refreshed when they returned on Monday. Autumn was sleeping sixteen hours a day, and swallowing was becoming more difficult for her.
""I can take her for her hospital stay on Wednesday before work." Jamillah, one of Katilyn's friends was saying.
"And my shift starts shortly before her schedule arrival," Sariah responded.
"Okay, so back to this weekend," Michelle interjected.
"I can be here on Friday morning at9:00, an hour before Jason and Abbie are set to leave. Abbie told me that they would bathe and put her in pajamas when she seems to be most alert so I don't have to do that. I don't mind doing those things, but I appreciate their offer."
"And I can come at," Kendall looked at a planner, "3:30 that afternoon. Will that shift be too long for you?" she asked Michelle.
"I'll be with her, remember?" Jamison asked, trying not to display his emotion. Jamison spent most of his days with her, and he was actually living with the family. He spent as much time with her as he could, but he couldn't be the only person responsible for her care.
"So whenever Michelle needs to leave is fine."
"Okay, I can stay until 9:00, and that's when my mom is coming to pick me up," Kendall finished.
"Then, so Jamison can sleep, I can be here from 12:00-8:00, since Jamison assures me that he can handle 9:00 to 12:00 with her," Lauren assured.
"And then, I'll be here at--" Katilyn began.

Before the scheduling had begun, Kambra went to check on Autumn. She had thought her friend would be sleeping, since the pain and nausea medications kept her sedated the majority of the time. However, a painfully-sleeping young woman was not what Kambra found. Autumn was having a seizure and aspirating vomit! Kambra quickly turned her on her side and stood with one eye on the clock, and the other on Autumn. When the seizure ended, Kambra went toward the bed to comfort her friend when she regained consciousness. Before she could reach the bed, Autumn started seizing again.
"I need help!" she opened the door and called out as calmly as she could, effectively cutting off Katilyn's statement. Jamison took off like a shot and was the first one to reach the room. He pushed past Kambra in his haste to reach the bed and didn't even notice Lauren and Judith right behind him.
"Oh, sweet Lord!" he exclaimed when he saw Autumn. Jamillah was already on the phone, summoning for an ambulance to take Autumn to a facility with which Autumn and her friends were far too familiar.


Chapter 133: The Last Journey
(by Bethany Rose, added on 27 May 2012 01:42 PM)


When the ambulance arrived, paramedics immediatly gave Autumn an injection of lorazepam to stop the constant seizing. Oxygen was administered, and she was put on a heart monitor. When she reached the hospital, she was taken to the pediatric intensive care unit, where her family and friends received some devastating news.

None of the treatments were successful, and fluid was building on her brain. She was going to die very soon. This was devastating to Autumn's unique family. They all knew this could happen, but none of them wanted to think about, much less accept it.

"When we discussed, well, end-of-life care with Autumn, she told us that she wants hospice," Jason barely managed to say.
"Right," Carrie, the pediatric oncology charge nurse, said, "are you going to have--"
"We already started working with a hospice nurse!" Jamison barked.
"I know this must be very difficult for you," Carrie quietly responded.
"Yeah, sorry. You didn't deserve that," Jamison muttered.

Autumn would return home on hospice after fluid could be drained. She wouldn't survive a surgery to place an internal shunt, so it would have to be drained externally.
Four days later, Autumn was transported home, where the hospice nurse and chaplain were waiting to receive her. They set up a hospital bed, IV poles, medications, suction machine and oxygen. They would do their best to make her comfortable. The Corbin family, Michelle and Lauren, Autumn's parents, her hospital family and, of course, Jamison, knew they had a few weeks to just hours with her. They were determined to make sure someone was always with her, and they wanted to spend as much time as possible with her. Even though Autumn was awake for about two hours spread throughout the day, someone was always with her. It didn't matter that she couldn't communicate well and was not always lucid during her waking hours. She couldn't see well anymore, but she could still hear and feel everything. The family and friends used these remaining senses to let her know that they were with her and that she was loved.


Chapter 134: Autumn's New Genesis
(by Bethany Rose, added on 30 May 2012 06:46 AM)


It was three weeks later, and everyone kept their word. Hospice said that she was reaching the end. She could no longer see was on oxygen, and she needed a constant morphine drip. Autumn would occasionally take in nourishment. Apple juice, cherry Jello that hadn't set and chocolate ice cream were winners on the rare occasion when she tolerated it. Her friends and family surrounded her, and they would touch her hand, head or foot. They reminded her of their love, and sometimes they would read Scripture to her or share funny or touching memories. And now the signs that death was near were present. It was late evening, and her friends and family were seated around the room. They didn't want to crowd around her bed, as that seemed to agitate her. At that moment, Jamison held her left hand, Jason her right, and Sariah stood at the foot of the bed touching her blanket-covered foot. Kylewas praying, and the rest had their eyes on Autumn. They watched. They waited. The next breath could be her last. Autumn slowly opened her eyes and said, "I love you," and a moment later, she returned to her drug-induced slumber.

On July 7, 2009 at 1:42 AM, Autumn Rose Hansen took her last breath. And in that instant, those who remained knew their precious friend was seeing the face of her Lord, her Mashiach, her Yeshua!


Chapter 135: The Next Step
(by Bethany Rose, added on 30 May 2012 07:13 AM)


Someone--Jamison and Jason didn't know who--called the hospice chaplain, and he arrived shortly after Autumn's physical end. He listened to and prayed with each person in turn. When the group gathered together, the hospice chaplain and nurse reassured the friends and family that they could help with final arrangements.
"And when you're ready, know that we want to help you adjust. Remember that hospice has bereavement groups to help you through the first twelve months. We'll keep in touch with you as well." the chaplain reminded the group. Of course, they knew these things, but it was important for them to receive reassurance, since they wouldn't be thinking about the technicalities and might not be able to think about the immediate future right then.

Five days later, Autumn was laid to rest after an intimate service that celebrated her life. But what was next? Jamison didn't know what he would do after Autumn. How could he get through the empty days ahead? His whole life had been Autumn. Had been--they were such ugly words! He still wanted Autumn with him; he didn't want to have to think in the past tense.

The hospice chaplain and bereavement support groups greatly helped Autumn's loved ones to take the next steps. They needed to switch from fervently praying for Autumn's peace and comfort--barring a miracle--to praying for God to help them heal. Morgan, Jamison and the Corbin children decided they wanted to help with brain cancer awareness and research. In that way, they could continue Autumn's legacy. Each of her friends and family members could honor Autumn in their own unique ways. Perhaps this, along with dependence on God and each other, helped them heal the most. They would strive to honor Autumn through the ways they lived. There wasn't a better way to celebrate Autumn's life.


Chapter 136: Author's Note
(by Bethany Rose, added on 30 May 2012 08:10 AM)


When I started writing this story, all I could do was imagine what this might be like. I didn't know a think about how cancer would affect everyone in a diagnosed person's circle.

Until November 1, 2008...

I was talking with my former college roommate and best friend in between classes. It was fitting, then, that she would be the one to tell me that one of our friends had leukemia. And thus began my real understanding of life affected by cancer. Kalila fought long and hard, and her compassion, humor and faith in God remained right until her physical death. She was God's beautiful creation and was brought into countless people's lives, and they would be changed.

Kalila Marie Borden: February 14, 1985-October 18, 2009
And to Kalila: I can't wait to hear your beautiful voice again, sweet friend. You are in the absolute best place: resting in the arms of Jesus. I am sure he said to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant." What beautiful words, and you were a faithful servant right until the end. We will see you soon, precious princess of the Lord Most High!

Then I got involved in the childhood cancer community. I saw something on the Internet--from a trusted source--about a little girl named Layla Grace. She had a form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma. I wanted to follow her journey, since I know how watching someone die is excruciating. I wanted to provide support. And there was no turning back after that. I was in with both feet. I learned that, in the United States, forty-six children are diagnosed with cancer, and five children die each day due to cancer or complications.

I write this and educate people so we can get one step closer to finding cures. I write in honor of cancer angels
Kalila, Joyce, Dr. Katheryn Elaine Woodruff, Tyler B, Ronan, Layla, Ellie, Ethan, Nayelis, Tuesday, Evan, Talon, Tyler J, Piper, Emma, Bryce, Emily, Noah, Thomas, Avery, Anna, Tiana, Brogan, Nick, Santos, Ayden, Sophie, Kimberly, Harley, Madeline, Paxten, Ava, Brady, Ezra, Luke, Brennan
And, tragically, so many more!
and to cancer kids still in the battle:
Braden, Collin, Patrick, Owen, Kate, Caden, Tylor M, Danielle, Mara (a different condition, but still a hero), Andrew, Serena, Natalie, Kyle, Joshua, Jordyn, Emily, Jaxon, Denali, Taylor, Haley, Ariel, Ethan, Andrew K, Codey, Brycen, Vinny, Dejon, Lola, Kayda, Jaycee, Nolan, Eli, Lewis, Emily, Erin, Bella, Carli, Austin, Callie, Brooke, Lindsey, Justin, Lindsey, Kendall, Jayda, Luca, McLain, August, Torrence, Mary Catherine, Liam, Ella, Ty
And these are just the ones I know about. Do you see these two lists? Each name has a story. Each of these people had or has cancer, and that shakes the friends, families, hospital staff, hospice workers and so many more to the core!

I write in honor of all of these cancer heroes--those who have earned their wings, and those who are still livving and marching on--and those who help them, because they are heroes, too. May God surround all of these and the countless other families with peace and comfort through devastation. May He be a refuge for them.

Just one more thing: I'm thinking about writing a sequel to this story, but I don't know if I'll do that yet.

Shalom {Peace} to you all!

Bethany Rose




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