IMPORTANT NOTE: REFERENCES TO TV SHOWS “HOME IMPROVEMENT” AND “BOY MEETS WORLD”. THEY ARE NEEDED, I AM NOT PLAGIARIZING!
Maddie restlessly set her iPad down on the blankets. When was someone going to come to her? Then again, the later someone came, the longer she didn’t have to endure any checkups, pain, or nerves. Add a teaspoon of fear to the recipe and you had exactly what she would be enduring sometime after someone came.
Maddie picked up the iPad again and resumed writing her story.
(Carly smashed through the thicket, emerging into bright sunlight, a beautiful green meadow, and a wonderful waterfall pouring into a sparkling pond. Off to the left was a dense, uninviting forest, and to the right was a huge canyon-ravine with a towering mountain on the opposite side.
Carly breathed in the crisp, cool, air that was ever-yet warmed with golden sunlight. It was the perfect place for a picnic, thought Carly, if you smashed the cliffs and the ravine down, and if you demolished the forest. But I wouldn’t do all that just for a picnic.
Carly stepped towards the pond, eager to taste the clear, sparkling water. But as soon as she dipped her hands in the water to scoop up a drink, she found herself flopping about like a- fish?! She looked at her legs, which were now joined together into a- tail?!
Carly discovered her hair was loose and decorated with seashells, while her sensible hiking top was gone, replaced with a bra similar to the one Ariel wore in The Little Mermaid. Her pack was still on her back. Carly discarded it, hiding it beneath some thick bushes. She wouldn’t need it for this part of her mission.
Diving down beneath the surface of the water, Carly took in her new surroundings. Fish swam about everywhere, and tall submarine plants waved merrily. There were caves, canyons, mountains- it was very much like earth.
Except for one thing. There was a mermaid swimming right towards Carly. And she didn’t look too happy.)
Maddie was interrupted by a knock at the door. “Come in?” She said it like a question on purpose because she wasn’t sure if she actually wanted this mystery person to come in or not.
The door opened slightly, and a head peeked in. Maddie was extremely surprised to find that it belonged to a boy.
“Hi, Maddie. I’m Mark. May I come in?”
Maddie nodded, closing the iPad and setting it on the bedside table. “Sure,” she said, hoping her voice didn’t quaver.
Mark stepped all the way in, and closed the door behind him. “I’m your nurse for right now- Emma’s busy with another girl.”
Maddie didn’t mean to say it. “Being my nurse involves what?”
Mark picked up an ear thermometer. “Basically just bringing you places, taking your temperature, and checking your pulse.”
Maddie thought she could handle that. Even if Mark was a boy.
Maddie suddenly realized that Mark had snuck in taking her her temperature.
“Are you ready to go meet one of your specialists?” Mark asked.
“I guess,” Maddie said, still trying to figure out where Mark was familiar from.
Mark swiped a wheelchair from the hallway. “Hop in,” he said. “Adventure awaits!”
Maddie, wondering if maybe she could make a break for it, just to get away for a little while, climbed into the wheelchair and allowed Mark to bring her to an office.
“You’re seeing Jensen today,” Mark told her. “Then you have a dentist appointment afterwards, just to make sure there’s nothing dental to fix before you have the transfusion.”
Maddie snapped to attention at the word “dentist“.
“Where is the dentist?” she asked.
“We take a bus to another hospital,” Mark explained. “Tim drives us, we see the dentist, and then he drives us back here again.”
Ooohhh, boy, Maddie thought. More people to meet. Nice.
Maddie’s thoughts were broken by Mark suddenly saying, “Jensen’s ready for you, Maddie.”
“Don’t you come with me?” Maddie asked, somewhat puzzled.
Mark shook his head. “You’ll be fine, don’t worry.”
Maddie boldly stepped away, towards the door where the girl was waiting.
“Hi, Maddie.” The girl welcomed her with open arms and a big smile. “I’m Jensen, and I’ll be your specialist today.”
Maddie followed Jensen down a hallway to a room.
“It’s nothing but a talk today,” Jensen assured Maddie, sitting down on the rolling chair. “So you’re having a blood transfusion soon, and we just need to talk about it a little before it happens. We have all the blood you need- it’s all ready. You’ll be in your own room, and a lab tech will come in and give you a tiny IV of the blood. That’ll happen every day for a week, and then we’ll keep you for a while just it make sure everything’s settling in right, and that nothing’s wrong. Do you have any questions?”
Maddie had a big question. “Is there any way to know who the donor is? I want to thank whoever it is.”
Jensen shook her head. “Sorry, Maddie. There’s no way to know.”
Maddie nodded dejectedly.
“No other questions?” Jensen asked.
Maddie shook her head.
“Then let’s get you back to Mark, so he can bring you wherever you need to go next.” Jensen led Maddie back to the waiting room.
“Ready for the dentist?” Mark asked her as they walked to the bus.
Maddie shrugged. “It depends on whether it’s a boy or a girl,” she said, stepping onto the bus.
“It’s Nick and Kelaina,” Mark said. “If it tells you anything about the dentist, Kelaina’s the assistant.”
Maddie slumped in her seat, then straightened back up as the bus lurched into motion. “Wonderful,” she muttered. “Just wonderful. I come here, already terrified of the blood transfusion, and then I find out that I have to see a boy dentist my first day at the hospital.”
“It’ll be all right,” Mark told her. “Nick’s really nice, and you shouldn’t have to freak out with him.”
“Hope not.” Maddie glanced out the window at the city streets rushing by.
“Hey, why so quiet back there?” Tim asked from up front. “Am I driving four zombies to the dentist?”
That got a laugh. “No, the girls are just nervous,” the girl sitting across from Maddie called.
“I’m not nervous, Emma!” The girl sitting next to Emma retorted. “I’m just quiet naturally.”
“You sure about that?” Mark asked Emma. “She about blew my eardrums with that holler.”
Emma grinned. “And is this Maddie?” she asked, changing the subject.
Mark nodded. “I got to her first, but she’s fair game tomorrow.”
“It’s just a joke we have, Maddie,” Emma explained. “We do think of you as a valuable human life, and it’s not like you’re just a toy, which you’re not.”
Maddie knew that.
“I look forward to seeing whose ‘game’ I am tomorrow,” Maddie thought with an inward eye roll.
“What did the farmer say to the cow?” Tim hollered from up front.
“I don’t know!” Emma and Mark called out.
“No need to bawl me out; I’m going!” Tim laughed, bringing a more cheerful air to the bus.
Emma, Mark, Maddie, and the strange girl laughed too. Maddie felt better after that. Especially since they arrived at the other hospital about ten seconds afterwards.
Maddie followed Mark in and to the dental office. Emma wasn’t far behind with her girl (Maddie wondered if she’d ever find out that girl’s name).
Maddie hoped that she wouldn’t get too scared. Especially considering that Mark and Emma apparently didn’t go back with the girls.
“Who’s going first?” Emma asked. “Leslie, you want to? You can get it over with faster.”
Leslie shook her head violently, and clung to Emma.
Maddie sighed. That meant that when Kelaina came out, she would be going first.
That time might have been a little closer than she’d originally thought...
“Who’s first?” Kelaina called.
Maddie glanced at Mark for confirmation. He nodded, giving her all the information she needed without a single word.
Maddie reluctantly stepped up and followed Kelaina back through a hallway to a room. To Maddie’s shocked terror, there was already a boy in the room.
Maddie had to tell herself not to run from the room. Where would she go? Mark and Emma would stop her if she got as far as the waiting room. Kelaina would stop her immediately if she didn’t run fast enough at the beginning. And if she managed to get past the waiting room, where would she go then? She couldn’t very well run to the bus- she had no idea where the bus was. So really, although it was extremely tempting, the idea of running away didn’t make any sense at all.
“Hey, Nick,” Kelaina said. “This is Maddie.”
“Hey, Maddie,” Nick said. “Who’d you come with?”
Maddie cocked her head inquisitively.
“He means whether you came with Emma or Mark,” Kelaina clarified.
“Mark,” Maddie said.
“Good; Mark pays close attention to everything.” Nick paused for a second. “Well, if there’s someone else out there- and I know there is- we’d better get started on the simple check.”
Maddie sat in the chair, and for time’s sake, allowed Nick to look at her teeth.
“The only thing I would recommend fixing sooner rather than later is getting an expander, and eventually, braces,” Nick said. “Kelaina, would you bring Mark in?”
Maddie groaned inwardly. She knew that if they brought the escort in, it was a serious thing.
Nick apparently sensed her uneasiness with bringing in Mark, and said, “Don’t worry- I just need Mark’s okay on it before planning anything. I also need to know when your other stuff here starts so we can schedule everything properly.”
Maddie relaxed, but only a tiny bit.
Kelaina returned just then with Mark in tow.
Nick explained to Mark what he needed to know before scheduling anything, and Mark in turn told Nick Maddie’s schedule. Together, between the two of them, they worked out a very feasible schedule for Maddie that wouldn’t require extremely full days.
“So we start with the spacers tomorrow after her first IV?” Nick asked, just for clarification.
Mark nodded. “We might be a little early or late, depending on how she handles it.”
Nick nodded this time. “That’s okay,” he said, “since I don’t have a very busy day tomorrow.”
Kelaina walked Maddie and Mark out to the waiting room, and in turn escorted Leslie back to Nick.
“So did you catch all that, Maddie?” Mark asked. Maddie shook her head. She’d been busy wondering exactly what a blood transfusion involved.
“Tomorrow after your first IV, you’ll come back here and Nick’s going to put in the spacers, to prepare you for an expander later on,” Mark explained.
Maddie nodded, still a bit confused.
“I’ll put it on your charts, so that if Emma reaches you first tomorrow, she’ll know what’s going on.”
“Thanks for thinking of me,” Emma teased. “If you had been assigned to her as a personal nurse, you would still have put it on the charts.”
“You’re a rule-follower too, Emma, so don’t try to tell me what I’d do and what I’d not do,” retorted Mark good-naturedly.
“True,” Emma acknowledged.
Just then, Kelaina came back with Leslie.
“Are we ready to go?” Emma asked.
“I’m ready if you are,” Mark answered.
Maddie was glad to get back on the bus. At least now she was going back to a place she was a tiny bit familiar with.
Maddie half awoke to someone gently shaking her. “Maddie,” a girl’s voice whispered. “The lab techs’ll be here soon.”
Maddie jolted fully awake. “What? What lab techs?”
She recognized Emma from the day before.
“It’s going to be Randy and Ella today,” Emma said, raising her voice back to a normal volume.
“You know, my second biggest fear is boy doctors, nurses, lab techs, the like?” Maddie asked her pointedly.
“Well, for the transfusions, we always assign two lab techs to each girl, and we only have one girl tech.” Emma smiled sympathetically. “I bet you’ll do great.”
“Geez.” Maddie sank into the pillows. “Sure... with my two biggest fears: needles and boy medical personnel.”
“Tell you what. I’m supposed to take your temperature and do all that anyway. Why don’t we talk about your fears? Maybe it’ll help you feel better about it.” Emma reached for the ear thermometer and took Maddie’s temperature as Maddie told her about her needle fear.
“I think what we need to start doing is praying about this.” Emma reached for the pulse monitor. “What scares you worst: the thought of pain, or just the knowledge that it’s a needle?”
“The thought of pain,” Maddie said.
“Then if you tell yourself that it won’t hurt, maybe that would help for now.” Emma picked up a stethoscope and asked about Maddie’s fear of boy medical personnel.
So Maddie told her about that one, glad that Emma wanted to know. It wasn’t like she could’ve told Mark about it.
“So it’s not exactly them, it’s just knowing that they’re a different gender and stuff that scares you?” Emma asked. “It makes sense. But I bet that having at least one boy lab tech for a week straight, plus Nick, will help you with this one. And you can bet I’ll be praying for you about this one too.”
Maddie smiled for the first time that day, and probably for the last. “Thanks, Emma.”
Just as Emma finished putting away everything, a knock sounded at the door. Maddie froze and clutched her blankets.
“It’s all right, Maddie,” Emma whispered as the door cracked open. A face peeked in as a voice said, “Knock, knock. May we come in?”
“Sure.” Emma answered for Maddie, much to Maddie’s mixed relief and dismay.
The door opened all the way, bringing two lab techs in, one boy and one girl.
“Hi, Emma,” the girl said.
“Hi, Ella, Randy,” Emma said. “This is Maddie.”
Randy extended his hand out to Maddie, who shyly reached out and shook it. Ella held up her hand for a high five.
Maddie personally thought that a handshake was signaling a promise on her part to trust Randy, and do her best not to move or be difficult. A high five, on the other hand, signaled that she trusted Ella, but was making no promises not to move, or be difficult.
But not everyone thought that way, obviously. It was just Maddie.
Emma gave Maddie an encouraging smile before leaving her alone with Randy and Ella.
Maddie once again contemplated bolting for it, but once again very sensibly realized that it was futile to run. Maddie crossed her fingers underneath the blanket, where nobody would be able to see.
Ella reached up into one of the cupboards, and began taking out various necessities for doing what Maddie considered torture, while Randy picked up an IV bag off the cart they had brought with them and hung it on the IV pole beside Maddie’s bed.
“Ella’s going to take some blood before the transfusion, because we need to get some of the old blood out before putting new blood in,” Randy explained. “Then I’ll give you the IV, and when it’s done in a few hours, one of us will come back to remove it. Sound good?”
Maddie shrugged. “For something to do with needles, anyway,” she said.
Ella giggled softly, and put on a pair of gloves. Reaching over to the bedside table, where she’d laid her things, she picked up the cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol, gently took up Maddie’s left arm, and rubbed the cotton ball on it. Then she picked up the needle and, while Maddie was distracted by Randy making a face, quickly stuck Maddie and drew the blood.
Maddie let out a short howl of surprise before her violent emotions seized her and she began to cry. Not because it hurt so much but because she hadn’t been expecting it, she hadn’t been expecting two needles in one day, and she was so very, very scared of Randy.
“Maddie, don’t be scared,” Ella said tenderly, wrapping a bandage on Maddie’s arm. “It’s just what we have to do to help you.”
“The worst part’s over now,” Randy offered. “The IV isn’t nearly as painful.”
Maddie dried her tears with the Kleenexes that Ella handed her. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m just scared to the death of needles.”
“It’s okay to be scared,” Ella said. “I’m glad you didn’t fight me.” Then she added, “And just in case you’re wondering, Randy’s the best at IVs.”
Maddie’s logic skills were beginning to kick in by now and she was able to think rationally about what Ella had just said. Maddie knew that Randy was going to give her the IV, period. No question about that. This was a great opportunity for Maddie to start overcoming her fear of boy medical personnel. And Maddie decided to seize the opportunity.
Maddie clenched one fist under the blanket as she set her teeth for pain.
But when Randy had inserted the IV, and taped it down, there was still no pain, save a slight discomfort that comes from having an IV.
Maddie suddenly wanted nothing more than to shout and scream for joy. She had successfully let Ella take blood, and successfully let Randy (who was a boy, to top it all off) give her an IV.
“One of us’ll come back in a few hours when it’s done,” Ella said as she and Randy were about to leave.
Maddie nodded; waved her free hand in farewell-till-IV-is-done-ness.
As soon as the door closed, Maddie picked up her iPad with her free hand and resumed writing her story.
(Carly swam cautiously to meet the mermaid, wondering if she was friend- or foe.
“What is your business down in the Depths of Immortality?” the mermaid asked, fingering a jeweled, dainty dagger which hung at her waist in a belt.
Carly figured she’d better play it carefully. “I am an explorer, searching for the Lost Falls, and when I bent down to take a drink from this pool, I was transformed into a mermaid.”)
Maddie set her iPad down and sighed wearily. Her creative juices just weren’t flowing right then.
Closing out of the story, Maddie instead decided to get on InTouch in the News server she and three of her friends had created.
Checking her notifications, she saw that Kali had asked where she’d been the last few days. Abby had asked when they could role play again, and Cody wanted to know when she was going to play online again.
Maddie responded to all of these in one with a quick overview of what had happened to her in the past three days, and that she would be available for about two hours that day, starting now.
Abby must have been on InTouch already, because she jumped in and asked if Maddie would like to role play. Since there was nobody else jumping on Maddie, she accepted and spent a very happy two hours role playing with Abby.
Just as Abby had sent a new character profile, a knock sounded at the door.
“I’ll let you know what I think later; someone’s coming into my room, and, you know, that probably means I’m about to get something medical done to me,” Maddie sent quickly.
Blacking out her phone screen, Maddie called, “Come in.”
Randy poked his head in. “Is the bag empty?” he asked. “It should be by now.”
Maddie glanced at the IV bag, which was now empty. She nodded.
Randy came all the way in, and immediately put on a pair of gloves. “How’re you feeling? No dizziness, no nausea, no aches or pains?”
Maddie shook her head. “I’m feeling fine.”
“Good.” Randy took a bandage from a cupboard and started to untape Maddie’s IV. Maddie nervously jerked her arm away and covered it with her other hand.
“Come on, Maddie, it’s okay,” Randy said, uncovering Maddie’s arm and replacing it where it had been before. “It won’t hurt.”
Maddie, being an emotional yet logical girl, decided to put her logic to good use.
What if I keep fighting? she asked herself. What if I keep moving my arm away? Where will that get me? What will it get me? It’ll get me even more emotional and afraid, and it’ll get me portrayed as a baby. So, should I let Randy take the IV out! If I do, that’s basically saying that I won’t be any more trouble. You know what, I’ll think about that later.
Maddie, having finished her private conversation, made the very hard decision to keep her arm still. She allowed Randy to take the IV out and bandage it without even so much as a twitch.
“Emma or Mark will be in soon to bring you over to Everett,” Randy said before he left.
Maddie seized the opportunity to read Abby’s newest character profile.
Fur color: white with black ear tips, paws, tail tip
Hair color: black
Hair length: bobbed around ears
Eye color: green
“I never lose a battle, even if I’m dying.”
Maddie had just enough time to share her honest opinion with Abby before another knock sounded at the door.
“Who is it?” Maddie called, closing InTouch and laying her phone down.
Mark stuck his head in, much the way Randy had earlier. “May I come in?”
“Sure.” Maddie set her phone on the bedside table. “I assume you’re here about the dentist?”
Mark nodded. “You’re seeing Everett the orthodontist today. He was out yesterday, so that’s why you didn’t get to meet him.”
Great, Maddie thought. Another boy I don’t know, and have to meet on the spot. Amazing.
Maddie shifted restlessly in her chair. She and Mark had been the only ones on the bus, making the ride a quiet, almost awkward time. Wishing she could have brought her phone, Maddie glanced at the wall clock that hung above the door to the inner rooms.
Maddie was startled out of her reverie by the door unde the clock clicking open and a girl’s voice calling Maddie’s name.
Maddie didn’t recognize the girl, but Mark told her to go ahead, so Maddie assumed that she would end up in the right place.
“I’m Reese,” the girl said as she led Maddie to a room. “So it’s just spacers today, and you’ll get the expander in a week. Sound good?”
Maddie shrugged. She didn’t know. “I guess; not that I know anything about orthodontics,” she said.
“Well, it’ll be pretty easy today,” Reese said. “Everett’s already in there- just so you know. Kelaina warned me that you get surprised when you find the dentist already in the room.”
“That could describe me,” Maddie said, stepping into the room. Thankfully, she didn’t act or look surprised when she saw (who was obviously) Everett already sitting in a chair.
“Hi, Maddie. I’m Everett. If you’d sit down and we can get started, it’ll be over faster.” Everett winked at her, which unnerved Maddie.
However, Maddie did sit down, and allow Everett and Reese to put in the spacers, which she honestly hardly felt.
Once back in her room, Maddie checked InTouch, wondering if Abby had seen the character she’d created.
Maddie discovered that the whole server was talking about that character.
Abby: it’s the best character I’ve ever seen... never knew Maddie was so talented.
Kali: well, she is pretty creative, and creativity comes in handy when role-playing.
Cody: SEAmonster isn’t even that good.
Maddie laughed. SEAmonster, one of Cody’s creations, was a great character, one of Maddie’s favorites. SEAmonster should have gotten the vote for Best Character.
Maddie decided to stay out of the conversation. She didn’t want her friends to know that she’d seen their discussion.
Emma entered the room a few minutes later. “Just wanted to see how everything’s going,” she said, checking Maddie’s temperature, pulse, heart rate, etc.
Maddie sighed. “It’s going all right, but I really want to know who my donor is.”
Emma smiled. “Wanting to thank them?”
Maddie started. “How’d you know?”
Emma laughed. “Lots of people ask me that. Actually, I could help you out.”
“Really?” Maddie hoped Emma could.
“Let me check our files. I bet they’ll be in there. I’ll give you their name, but nothing else- you can have the fun of tracking them down.” Emma winked and hurried out of the room.
Maddie settled back, a little bit puzzled and more than a little happy. Jensen had said that there was no way to know- and Emma was going to prove her wrong.
A few minutes later, Emma came back in. “Great news,” she said, waving a folder. “I found them! Here, quick, note his name down in your phone or somewhere- I have to get this back before they notice it’s gone.”
Maddie quickly typed the name without really noticing it, and Emma took the folder back.
Only when she had gone did Maddie truly take notice of the name.
“Trent Williams?” she asked herself. “Heck, there could be a million people with that name. Well, I’d better start looking.”
However, after searching for an hour straight, Maddie fell asleep, exhausted.
Maddie half-awoke to hands shaking her shoulders. “Hey, wake up,” a familiar voice whispered. “The lab techs’ll be here soon, and you don’t want to be caught napping.”
Maddie turned to look at the speaker, and discovered that it was Mark this morning.
Maddie sat up, shaking her head to clear the fog from her brain.
“Which lab techs?” she asked, hoping it would be Randy and Ella again- at least she knew them.
Mark shrugged. “No way to know until they come, and frankly, you’d probably like any of the techs here. They’re all really friendly with nervous people.”
If you only knew the whole of it, Maddie though sarcastically. Mark didn’t know anything about her fears.
Maddie’s thoughts were broken by a knock sounding at the door and a head peeking in. Maddie breathed a silent sigh of relief. At least Randy was here, if not Ella.
“Knock, knock.” Randy grinned. “Hey Mark, can we come in?”
“Sure,” Mark replied. “Who’s with you?”
“Reid,” Randy answered, opening the door all the way and stepping in, followed by another boy, who Maddie figured must be Reid. Scary, in Maddie’s opinion. But she’d do fine. Wouldn’t she?
Mark waved as he walked out, leaving Maddie alone with Randy and Reid, and ultimately, her second biggest fear, x2.
Reid began the process of taking the little blood sample, while Randy connected Maddie’s IV. Surprisingly, Maddie didn’t freak out at all- she stayed perfectly calm and still.
As soon as they had gone, Maddie renewed her search for the donor, Trent.
Maddie was in the middle of typing into the searchbar when she suddenly noticed that she looked a little longer under the blankets. No, wait- a lot longer. What was happening? Did she need glasses?
Maddie cocked her head inquisitively. Then she snapped a picture and sent it to her friends on InTouch, asking, “Hey- second day of blood transfusion, and I look a LOT TALLER. Tell me if you think I look taller- tell me I’m seeing things!”
Kali: WOW! You’re not seeing things- you look a lot taller. When your nurse comes back, ask them to measure how tall you are, and then tell me on this server. This is weird!
Cody: WHOA! Maddie, what happened? You’re like, a foot taller!
Abby: Probably something to do with her transfusion- maybe the donor’s chromosomes are giving her extra height. I’ll research that and let y’all know sometime this afternoon if that’s even possible.
Maddie: Well, thanks for telling me I’m not crazy. I’m certainly not crazy about getting this tall.
Abby: Don’t worry. Even if you do get super tall, it won’t affect who you are and who we see you as.
Cody: *cough, cough* Are you sure about that?
Abby: Cody, not helpful!
Kali: Yeah, we need to encourage Maddie, especially since she appears to be growing to an unusual height.
Cody: Sorry, sorry. Maddie, don’t worry. Abby’ll be able to find some info on this, and hopefully your nurse comes soon so you can tell us exactly how tall you are now!
Abby: Maddie, can you ask to be measured every day? I’d like to know if you’ll get even taller throughout the week.
Kali: She probably won’t even have to ask. They’ll probably keep track on their own once they find out how tall she is.
Cody: True. Good luck, Maddie!
Maddie: Thanks, all of you. I’ll keep you posted!
Maddie set down the phone and once again pondered whether she was actually taller or not. Knowing how tall she was right now would help with this mystery- wait! That was it! She could probably figure out whether she was growing because of her blood transfusion, and then she could eliminate any Trent Williamses who weren’t especially tall!
Emma entered the room just then, with Randy following her.
“Picked up this straggler in the hall a minute ago,” Emma teased cheerfully. “Thought maybe he could help you get unhooked from this IV.”
Maddie laughed, and waited until Randy was gone before asking Emma to measure how tall she was.
“Sure,” Emma said, puzzled- until she saw how tall Maddie was. “Um, Maddie, I don’t know how to tell you this- but you’re nearly six feet tall!”
Maddie felt like she been punched in the stomach. “Whaaat?!”
Emma nodded as she helped Maddie back in bed. “Five foot ten inches, to be exact. I think we should measure every day until this transfusion is done.”
Maddie whooped silently. Yes! Kali had been right! She hadn’t had to ask- and Emma was going to keep an eye on this!
Emma left, leaving Maddie free to update her friends on what had just happened.
Kali: WOW, almost six feet tall. How does that work?
Abby: I keep telling you, it has something to do with this new blood entering her body. Listen: I found on the internet that it’s definitely possible. Maddie, you should ask your nurse about this, and let us know.
Maddie: All right- thanks!
Maddie sat back, suddenly exhausted. She was used to being only five foot three- now she’d grown seven inches in three days? Impossible! Yet, it was happening.
Maddie was more determined now that ever to find this Trent Williams and meet him- and find out if he really was tall.
Maddie groaned and shook her head to clear the fog from her brain. Where was she? Oh yes, the hospital. Why wasn’t anyone there? Oh, she must have woken up early. Duh. Maddie smacked her forehead, disgusted with herself.
Maddie picked up her phone and checked the time. Whoa! It was 5:30!
Maddie figured she could sleep a little longer, but sleep wouldn’t come. Finally, she gave up, picking up the iPad and opening her story.
She wrote steadily for about three hours, until she heard a knock on her door. “Come in,” she called, totally used to knocks on her door by now.
Ella poked her head in. “Hey, it’s me and Reid today. May we come in?”
Maddie nodded, setting the iPad aside. “Sure.”
Ella came all the way in, Reid behind her. Maddie let them do what they needed to, then picked up the iPad again. But half a second later, she set it back down again, and picked up the phone. Getting on InTouch, she checked to see if any of her friends had asked questions about her hospital experience.
Kali: How’s it going, Maddie?
Maddie: All right- I seem to be doing okay with all the boys (second worst fear) sticking me with needles (first worst fear), and somehow, I seem to be taller yet.
Cody: whenever that nurse comes back, ask her or him to measure you, and let us know!
Maddie: will can do. Is Abby on?
Abby: What do you think?
Maddie: Apparently you’re on. Hey, did you find anything else out?
Maddie: Well, can y’all help me with something? I’m trying to find the donor- his name’s Trent Williams if you’d like to help.
Abby: Why not? It’ll be fun, tracking someone down.
Kali: Of course!
Maddie searched another ten websites for the mysterious Trent Williams before Ella came back in to remove the IV.
“I heard you’re afraid of boy medical personnel,” Ella said conversationally as she bandaged Maddie’s arm.
Maddie nodded. “How did you hear?”
“Emma told me,” Ella said. “She said you seek to be doing all right, but she asked me to tell Randy and Reid to be extra nice, gentle, etc. to you.”
“Thanks, Ella, and just in case Emma doesn’t come back to me today, tell her I thank her too.” Maddie waved to Ella as she left.
Maddie resumed searching. Twelve websites later, she bingoed. There was a Trent Williams living in Chicago, Illinois- and she could contact him. She decided to let her friends know before emailing him.
Maddie: Hey, I might have found him! Don’t give up, though- might not be the right Trent Williams.
Kali: Great! I hope it’s the right one!
Abby: Cool... I’ll keep looking, just in case. Like you said to.
Maddie: Thanks! I hope it’s the right person!m
Maddie found this Trent’s email address, and sent an email introducting herself and telling him why she was emailing him in the first place.
Maddie sighed in hopeful contentment as she leaned back against the pillows.
“Fingers crossed it’s him,” she whispered to herself right before she fell asleep.
A few days later, Maddie awoke to find her feet hanging off the hospital bed. Oh, no, she thought. I’ve grown even more.
Just then, Mark came in, apparently to wake her up, because he stopped short in surprise. “Did you magically grow overnight?” he asked, puzzled?
Maddie shook her head. “It’s been going on all week, pretty much ever since I started the transfusion. Last time I measured, with Emma, I was six feet eight inches tall.”
“Wow,” Mark said as he took her temperature, pulse, that sort of thing. “Let’s measure, quickly, before the lab techs come.”
Maddie stood still as Mark measured her, and then stepped away and sat on the bed to view her height. “Six foot ten,” she said aloud. “I wonder if I’ve ever seen anyone taller than six foot four.”
“You’re living it now,” Mark said, just as a knock sounded at the door.
Randy poked his head in. “May we come in? It’s me and Ella again.”
“Sure,” Mark said.
Randy and Ella came in.
“Emma told me about your growth spurt,” Randy said as he inserted the IV and taped it down. “Y’all are right: it probably is the blood transfusion that’s making you grow. Luckily, today’s the last day of it, so hopefully you won’t grow any more.”
“I can’t believe I ever wished to be tall,” Maddie said. “Now I wish I was short again.”
Ella giggled, breaking her silence. “Well, you’ll get used to it,” she reassured Maddie. “It won’t seem so bad after a while.”
“Hopefully,” Maddie added under her breath after they’d left the room.
Maddie, instead of grabbing her phone or iPad like usual, leaned back and sighed, long and deep. She was tired of being in the hospital, tired of being cooped up in bed all the time, tired of being stabbed with needles every day. Maddie wanted to go home, to church, to school- she wanted to live.
But until they released her, she’d have to make the best of it. And what better way than to at least get to voice chat with her friends?
Maddie picked up her phone and asked her friends via InTouch if they could voice chat.
Abby: Sure, I’m free for a while.
Cody: Sorry, I can’t right now, my mom’s telling me to do my homework.
Kali: Sure! I’d love that! And Cody, that math is easy. Don’t worry about it- and that’s actually all the homework we have. It’s supposed to be spring break, after all.
Cody: I still can’t voice chat. Mom’s really laying down the law here.
Kali: I know. I’m just telling you that it’s easy and you don’t have to stress over it.
Cody: Since when have you seen me stress over math?
Abby: Um, yesterday.
Cody: Abby, just go voice chat with Maddie. I, having a private argument with Kali here.
Abby: Suits me. I don’t need your dumb argument anyway. See ya.
Abby called a minute later. “Hey, what’s up?”
Maddie laughed aloud. “It’s so good to be able to actually talk to you again! I’m fine. Especially since it’s my last day of getting stuck with two needles every day!”
“That’s great!” Abby exclaimed. “Does that mean you’re coming home soon?”
Maddie sighed. “No idea- I’m due for an expander on Monday and sooner or later, braces. So I don’t know when the heck they’ll release me.”
“Aw,” Abby pouted. “But hey, we can still voice chat, text, email- we can obviously communicate. Speaking of communication, have you heard back from that Trent person you found locally?”
“No, not that I’ve seen,” Maddie said, “but I’ll check right now. I emailed him on my iPad, and we’re talking via my phone. Hold on a second.”
Maddie checked her email, and was extremely delighted to discover an email from none other than the Trent Williams she’d emailed.
“Yes, he emailed me back! Here’s what he says:” Maddie cleared her throat, and read the email for Abby.
Wow. I didn’t know that you could find who your blood donor is, but congratulations on finding me! In answer to your (sorta strange) question, yes, I’m tall. I’m six foot ten inches, to be exact. Please write back and tell me how tall you are! I’d like to know.
“Wow,” Abby said in an awed voice. “Are you going to write him back?”
“What, are you crazy? Of course I’m going to write him back!” Maddie set the iPad down and picked up the phone again.
“Well, I’d better go,” Abby said. “We’ll talk later?”
“All right, bye,” Maddie said.
Switching back to the iPad, Maddie began a new email: to Trent Williams.
Thanks for writing back so fast. In answer to your question, I’m now six foot ten as well! No joke. I believe it’s the blood transfusion- with your blood. I think maybe it’s making me grow as tall the donor- which would be you.
Thank you so much for the blood. It probably saved my life.
Maddie closed the iPad after sending the email. Finally, she knew why she was so tall. Finally, she knew that she would survive this hospital visit (without dying of boredom). Finally, she could rest easily.
Maddie stirred, stretched, and yawned. For once, she was ready to wake up, and nobody was tapping her. No lab techs were coming to stick her full of needles, no dentists and orthodontists sticking metal to her teeth, and no going anywhere. Maddie turned over and tried to go back to sleep, but something kept bothering her. Something wasn’t right.
Maddie finally just sat up and sighed in disgust. “Why do I get the feeling something’s not right?” she asked the empty room.
Silence answered her. Maddie sensed something odd was about to happen.
Maddie jumped two feet, heart pounding, adrenaline rushing. “Come in?” she said, voice quavering with surprise.
Emma came in. “Oh, I’m sorry. Did I scare you?”
Maddie nodded. “I jumped at least a foot.”
“I came to tell you that there’s another step to the transfusion.” Emma sat on the bed. “Someone’s going to come and take a blood sample, and then we’ll see if the new blood is actually what’s making you grow.”
“Doesn’t sound bad.” Maddie decided to tell Emma how she’d woken up. “You know, I woke up this morning with the feeling that something wasn’t right.”
Emma patted Maddie’s shoulder. “It’ll be fine- and you’ll know for sure what’s making you grow.”
Maddie nodded. “True.”
Emma rose and walked over to the door. “Well, I’d better go before that lab tech comes. I’ll see you later, okay?”
Maddie waved as Emma left. Then she grabbed her phone and updated her friends on InTouch.
Kali: Hey, great! At least you’ll know.
Abby: I could’ve told those lab techs that it’s the new blood making you grow.
Cody: Don’t underestimate the power of Abby.
Abby: Listen to Cody on this one (I can’t believe I just said that). Fear me! I will find out the answer and give it to you whether you like it or not!
Kali: She’s right; she will get you the answers.
Maddie: Well, I hear someone coming down the hall- and it’s probably for me. I’d better go- I’ll update y’all when I get results!
Kali: All right!
Cody: Can’t wait to hear.
Abby: I’ll be right- wait and see!
Maddie closed the phone just as the door opened, bringing with it Randy. Maddie inwardly groaned, keeping a straight face on the outside.
“Hi, Maddie. I’m not going to torture you, don’t worry. We just want to know what’s making you grow so much so fast. It’ll be over in a second.”
Maddie somehow kept it together during the sample, and managed to even reply to Randy’s casual conversation.
“One of us lab techs will give you an update when we find out,” Randy said by way of farewell.
Maddie waved. Finally, she would get the for sure answer.
Maddie woke up Monday morning to Emma tapping her shoulder. “Two things, but you have to get up first.”
Maddie groaned and sat up, rubbing her eyes and shaking her head. “What?”
“Get this,” Emma said, sitting on the bed. “Your test results showed that it really is the transfusion making you grow.”
Maddie couldn’t wait to tell Abby. “Wow. I never dreamed that was possible.”
“And... you have to get your expander today. You can come back in about six months for the braces, but you leave tomorrow morning.”
“Yes!” Maddie exclaimed. “Well, not that you guys aren’t really nice and all that, but I’m glad I can go home.”
Emma laughed. “I know exactly what you mean. Come on, we have to make the bus before Tim decides to leave us in the lurch.”
Maddie reluctantly allowed Emma to bring her to the bus. Luckily, Tim had some jokes.
“What did the violin say to the piano?” Tim asked.
“I don’t know,” Emma and Maddie replied.
“Don’t you have any house keys?” Tim said. “And the piano said back, ‘Do I look like a key ring? I’m a piano!’ “
Maddie and Emma laughed.
“Okay, okay, okay. Here’s another one: What did the neighbor say to the other neighbor?”
Maddie thought she knew. “Can I take a guess?” she asked Tim.
“Sure thing,” Tim said.
“Hi-di-ho, good neighbor!” Maddie said confidently.
“Hey, I’m impressed,” Tim said. “Okay, smarty pants, who says that?”
“Wilson!” Maddie exclaimed.
“Okay, then- which of the three Taylor boys does the ‘grunt’ the best?” Tim asked, obviously hoping to stump Maddie.
This was easy! “Brad,” Maddie said. Then she tacked on for good measure, “Oh-ho-ho-ho!”
“Hey, she’s pretty good!” Tim exclaimed. “I won’t be offended if I’m not your answer, but who’s your favorite character?”
“Take three guesses,” Maddie said, feeling bold and brave.
“Al,” Tim said.
“Nope,” Maddie said.
“Heidi,” Tim guessed.
“Nope,” Maddie said.
“Well, I...” Tim’s voice changed suddenly. “Euh, it’s not Jill, is it?”
“Definitely not,” Maddie assured him.
“Then who is it? I’m outta guesses.”
“It’s Randy,” Maddie told him.
“What- what the- he called my show Fool Time!”
“So? Maybe it was a slip of the tongue.”
“He- he compared me to an ape!”
“Okay, that was bad,” Maddie admitted, “but you also know better than I do how he was the most sensitive boy out of the three.”
“Wait, wait, hold up- you’re saying Mark’s not sensitive?”
Maddie floundered for the right words. “Well- now that I know him, I know he’s sensitive, but in the show, he really wasn’t!”
“That’s true,” Tim acknowledged, pulling into the other hospital’s driveway. “We’ll continue this debate when you get back, all right?”
“Suits me fine,” Maddie said, hopping off the bus with some self-confidence. Emma followed her.
“So, remember, you’re getting the expander,” Emma reminded Maddie in the waiting room.
“I know,” Maddie said. “You’ve told me twice already. It’s okay, just I do know what I’m getting,” she added, just to make sure she wasn’t being rude.
“I know I’m being a little bit over-informative,” Emma acknowledged, “but I feel like it’s better for you to know what you’re getting before you go in. See, Mark doesn’t do that. He typically tells you once, and if you forget, tough luck. That’s more how the real world works, so he has a good idea there. But my thing with it is, you’re still a kid. A very tall kid, but still a kid. And I say that kids should be given a little more lenience about these remembering deals.”
Emma took a deep breath. “Sorry, Maddie. I was just thinking out loud. I don’t get a chance to do that often enough.”
Maddie nodded. “I understand- that’s why I keep a diary on my iPad. But I can see both sides of that matter a little too clearly to choose just one or the other. I guess what I would do is I would let it depend on how much remembering responsibility my hypothetical patient could handle, and adjust my ways to each patient individually.”
Emma nodded this time. “Good point, Maddie.”
“Thanks,” Maddie said, suddenly shy.
The door to the inner rooms clicked open, and Reese stepped out, calling for Maddie.
Maddie stood up and waved to Emma as she left with Reese.
“Expander for Miss Gander?” Everett teased when she walked in. “Oh wait, that doesn’t work. Never mind,” he added hastily as Reese started laughing really hard.
Soon, Maddie started laughing, and finally, Everett started too, and it was a good five minutes before anyone stopped laughing long enough to gasp out a complete sentence.
“We’d- better- get- started,” gasped Everett, controlling the gales of his laughter.
Maddie, although she was not comfortable at all with Everett (Reese was a whole different story), allowed him to put the expander in and give her a list of instructions to keep by her bed.
Maddie returned to Emma triumphantly. She’d done at least the second step in conquering her fear of boy medical personnel.
“Hey, how’d it go?” Tim asked Maddie as she and Emma climbed up onto the bus.
“Got the expander,” Maddie explained, sitting in the second-row seat, right-hand side.
“Hope it works well,” Tim said. “Hey, up for more quiz?”
“Always,” Maddie laughed. “Try me!”
“All right,” Tim said. “Hmm.. lemme think..”
Emma laughed. “Tim, you’ve had all this time to think!”
“Let’s see how well you do, Emma,” Tim suggested. “Emma vs. Maddie!”
Maddie was up for the challenge!
“All right, for Emma,” Tim said. “Which kid was it who had trouble playing football: Brad, Mark, or Randy?”
Emma looked nonplussed. Maddie stifled her giggles. She knew the answer!
“Um, was it Mark?” Emma finally guessed.
“Nope,” Tim said. “Question goes to Maddie!”
“Randy,” Maddie said.
“Point to Maddie!” Tim exclaimed. “Okay, real question to Maddie: Who played Jill’s very annoying friend Karen, and what other show was she also in?”
“Betsy Randle; she was Cory Mathews’s mother on Boy Meets World,” Maddie answered.
“Impressive,“ Tim nodded. “Well, two points for Maddie, and this question’s for Emma: What medical scare did Randy have in season 5?”
“Thyroid cancer,” Emma answered. “Jill was beside herself, Randy snuck off to the arcade, Jill tipped Brad off that something wasn’t right, they were playing Scrabble and waiting for the phone to ring, Al thought Jill was having an affair with the milkman, and the episode showed when Tim and Wilson first met.”
Emma passed for breath, then asked, “Well, does that answer the question?”
“More than answer, it overviews the entire episode,“ Tim said. “Seven points to Emma, currently in the lead.”
Maddie answered all of her questions right, as did Emma, and the last question was really hard- the tiebreaker.
“Okay. In season 2, episode 3. What actress plays the woman who asked for Tim’s autograph in the restaurant, and plays the Tool Girl after Lisa leaves to become what?”
It was Maddie’s turn. “Debbie Dunning plays Kiki Von Fursterwallenscheinlaw, and Debbie Dunning later plays Heidi Keppert after Lisa leaves to become a paramedic.”
Emma again looked nonplussed.
“I think Maddie wins this round,” tim said. “Next time you two come on the bus, we’ll have to do another round.”
“Well, actually, Maddie leaves tomorrow morning to go home,” Emma said. “I know when I have to accept defeat.”
Maddie patted Emma’s shoulder. “You should face off against someone who hasn’t seen nearly all the episodes,” she said. “Try Leslie, that really quiet girl.”
Emma nodded. “I’ll see if she’s up for it next time we come on the bus.”
Maddie settled back, content. She’d shown what she knew about Home Improvement, and she’d be going home tomorrow. It was a pretty good day.
Maddie hugged Emma, Ella, Kelaina and Reese goodbye. Then she turned and put on a dignified manner to shake the hands of Nick, Mark, Tim (yes, Tim was bidding her farewell), Randy, Everett, and Reid. Then she got in her mom’s car and waved to everyone as she drove away.
When the hospital was out of sight, Mom turned to Maddie and asked, “How on earth did you get so tall?!”
“The blood transfusion,” Maddie said, and filled her in on all the happenings at the hospital.
Mom shook her head, turning into the driveway. “That Tim. Wait, he wasn’t the real Tim Taylor, was he?”
“Yep,” Maddie said, scrunching down to get out of the tiny Honda Civic.
“Yeah, and that Mark I told you about? The real Mark, going by the TV name. And Randy? The real Randy, going by the TV name. Weird thing is, they were the ages they are around the time Randy leaves the show.”
“Now that’s some insane hospital experience you have there, girl.” Mom unlocked the garage door. Maddie raced in- or tried to, anyway. The top of the doorway bonked against her head and bounced her back a little bit.
“Ow!” Maddie howled, rubbing her forehead. “Maybe I’d better duck until I know what doors I can walk through.”
Mom laughed. “Will Sadie ever get a big surprise. Sadie! Maddie’s home!”
“Big is right,” Maddie told Mom, adjusting the makeshift dress she wore, crudely sewn out of sheets from the hospital. Mom had paid them fifty dollars to reimburse them for the sheets.
“Oh, you. You’ll get used to it. Sadie!!” Mom hollered Maddie’s younger sister’s name up the stairs. “Get down here right now; you’ve been dying to see Maddie, and you won’t come down when she’s finally home.”
Sadie appeared on the top step. “Mom, I’m doing homework.”
“Finish your homework later. Say hello to Maddie.” Mom motioned Sadie down.
Sadie came down a few steps, but stopped short when she saw Maddie. “Maddie?” she asked in a low, incredulous voice. “What happened to you?”
“Got a blood transfusion from someone who is apparently very tall,” Maddie said cheerfully.
“That’s possible?” Sadie wondered, coming a step farther, now that she knew it was Maddie.
“I’m living proof that it is,” Maddie said. “And guess what, Mom- I found the donor!”
Mom gasped, obviously shocked. “What?! I- how did- that’s not possible!”
“Teamwork makes almost anything possible,” Maddie said seriously. “Neil Armstrong wouldn’t have made it to the moon without his team. Published authors have teams. Even wars are fought in teams- the armies. Teamwork can help accomplish almost anything.”
“When did Maddie get so wise?” Mom asked Sadie in a loud state whisper.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe when I started thinking before speaking,” Maddie said nonchalantly.
Mom and Sadie stared at Maddie.
Madde turned lightly on her heel and walked towards the kitchen for a snack. She was just glad to be home.