Authors Note: Since I last updated this story, my Aunt was diagnosed with cancer, although she is still hanging in there. This, obviously, seriously affected my enthusiasm to continue writing this, and then to make things worse my mother was diagnosed with and quickly died from cancer.

The aim of this story from the start was to try and take a light-hearted look at a very serious subject, and obviously I have not been in the correct frame of mind to tackle this subject in that manner in recent years.

However, I am back writing again, and having re-read what I have so far in this tale, I feel I am able to continue it. The rating is for the subject matter, and certain things that are going to come up in the next few chapters.

Although where possible I want this to have some humour in it, at the end of the day it is a very difficult and emotive subject, and so this tale will have some very dark sections to it, and for that I make no apologies.

This tale is dedicated to my mother, and to cancer sufferers and their families everywhere.
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It was several more days before I was able to stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time, and every time I awoke during that period I had the sense that something wasn't right, that there was something missing.

Of course, there were a couple of things missing. The bottom half of my left leg for a start, and one of my testicles. And I was already fairly certain I knew which of the two I was going to miss the most. But these were things that I knew to be gone, so that sense of loss I was feeling wasn't from that. Or I didn't think so anyway.

A week after I went into hospital I was finally able to stay awake long enough to have visitors, and as could be expected the first person through the door was my mother. The look on her face as she walked through the door told me something was wrong, and I couldn't think what it might be.

I had been talking to the doctors on a daily basis in my brief moments of lucidity, and was aware that they had started the chemotherapy almost as soon as I came out of the operation theatre, hence my being so tired. I knew that this was not something they would normally do, as they would prefer the wounds from the surgery to heal before pumping poison into my body, but they had felt they had little choice.

I was young and strong, and so they were fairly confident that my body could cope with what they were throwing at it. The main reason for my drowsiness was not so much the chemo, but a combination of the chemo and the morphine I was being given to take away the pain of my two body parts being removed.

I knew from my daily conversations with my doctor that if there had been some sort of complication, he would have told me. This could only mean that the look of worry on my mothers face was not for me. Somebody else was hurt, somebody that I was close to. I looked at my mother as she walked towards my bed, reading the stress in her face, knowing that there was something that she didn't want me to know, that she was worried might impede my recovery if I found out.

"What's happened to Nicki?" I asked my mother as she reached my side, watching the look of shock come across her face as my words registered. I had blindsided her, hit her with the one thing she didn't want to tell me, and I saw her struggle to regain her composure as she tried to work out how best to give me the news I was already dreading hearing.

Now you may think that this connection I have with my mother seems a little strange. I mean, how can somebody, especially somebody recovering from a traumatic surgery, who is dosed out of his head on chemo drugs and morphine, and who has spent the best part of a week unconscious, possibly read what is going on in another persons head so well?

I can't really explain it, except to say that this was just how things were with me and my mother. We had always been much closer than your average mother/son relationship, and were much more like best friends than anything else.

I was able to keep things from her to an extent, like my reason for the party the week before, for example, but she could never keep anything from me. I could read her like a book, knew what she was going to do or say, or how she might react in any given situation, better than she knew herself.

This was one of the reasons we were classed as the best bar-tending team in town. When we worked together, no matter how busy the place was, we were always in perfect synchronicity. To watch us behind a bar together was like watching some intimate dance, one that would be impossible to choreograph, as to try to put rhyme or reason to it would stifle the natural flow of our movements around one another.

We had some weird kind of telepathic link, but one that I was slightly more attuned to than she was. She realised that I was looking at her, still waiting for an answer to my question, and I could see her brain working away, trying to come up with a response that would be honest but yet would still keep me in the dark about what had happened to Nicki. She settled on responding with a question of her own.

"What makes you think something has happened to Nicki?" she asked.

"It's obvious really," I replied. "She wasn't here when I went into surgery, she isn't here now, and you are trying not to tell me something because you don't want to upset me. Now, can we stop messing about please and you can just tell me what has happened to my girlfriend?"

My mother took a moment to try and calm herself down, hoping that a doctor might come in and rescue her, saving her from having to give me the news. She was out of luck though, and so after a brief pause she told me what had happened.

"It was one of the guys you work with, Brian something-or-other. He attacked her when she got home on Sunday night, was waiting outside her house apparently. He hit her, several times, and was trying to rape her when a couple of the neighbours saw what was going on. The police have him in custody and are going to throw the book at him."

I could see there was something more that she wasn't telling me. Inside I was seething with anger, but I knew if I let it show I would never get to hear the rest, that part of this tale that my mother thought was so much worse than what she had already told me. I thought briefly about the best way to approach this, and then her last sentence registered in my mind.

"What do you mean they are going to throw the book at him?" I asked her. "Why haven't they done it already? It's an open and shut case, right? Assault, attempted rape, maybe a couple of other minor things. What's taking them so long?"

"They don't know what to charge him with," came the reply from my mother as I stared at her incredulously. "They are waiting for reports before they file charges. It could be assault, grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm, attempted murder….."

She paused at this point, and I realised why she had been trying to keep this from me. I finished her sentence for her, a look of pure anger and hate on my face.

"Murder?"

I said it like that, as a question, but I spat it out with such vehemence that my mother recoiled from me momentarily, before taking my hand and doing her best to reassure me.

"Not yet, she is still hanging in there. She has been in a coma since the attack, and right now there is too much swelling around the brain for the doctors to know what her chances are. All any of us can do is wait and hope she pulls through."

I lay there in my bed for a few minutes, thoughts of what I wanted to do to Brian flowing through my mind like molten lava, and with just as much destructive force. I could recall seeing him looking at Nicki at the party, and thinking then that she might have to watch her back for a little while.

But I had done nothing to warn her, to let her know of my fears. In truth, I would never have thought he could go so far as he had done, but that didn't make me feel any better about myself right now. If I wasn't a cripple, I knew I would already be halfway to the police station, searching for him, wanting to do to him what he had tried to do to the woman I loved.

But that would have to wait. For now I had more important things to worry about.

"I want to see her," I said to my mother.

"I've already spoken to the doctors about it, because I knew you would. Right now you are not stable enough to leave this room. As soon as you are, they will take you up to the intensive care unit so you can sit by her bedside and talk to her.

Maybe that will help her, knowing that you are there for her. It certainly can't hurt things. But for now you have to concentrate on your own recovery, on getting strong enough to leave this room. Until then, there is nothing you can do for her except pray for her recovery."

"You know I don't believe in that religious rubbish," I scoffed at my mother. But I knew she was right, that I could do nothing right now to help Nicki except concentrate on my own recovery. Brian could wait, he would get what he deserved one day. Right now though, I was exhausted. The news about Nicki had worn me out mentally, and I fell asleep with my mother holding my hand.