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Katy shut the door behind her and leaned against the door to catch her breath. She was familiar with the feeling spreading across her body; it was on continual cycle, so she knew it would pass but not before the pain became unbearable. Looking at the post on the table she could feel her heart beating quicker and quicker so she staggered into the living room and flopped on the sofa.

Katy shouted at the walls.
‘I wish I could have just one day without this!’ She stayed silent for a moment, almost hoping for a reply, but the wall stared back at her with the badly painted coat of deep red.
‘We really need to get round to painting that wall again’. She amazed herself; too many episodes of Changing Rooms had turned her into a DIY freak. Katy didn’t care, she liked to focus on something else, and it helped to take the feeling away, which was fine by her.

A sharp gust of wind fluttered through the window and smell reminded her of laundry. It was the just washed smell, just as it is removed from the washing machine. Katy loved that smell; she always likened it to starting over. You wash away the entire dirt and grease, then you are left with clean sheets, the entire dirt had been erased. She wondered what it would be like if humans were able to do that with their own lives, how good would it feel? Her face glistened as she imagined that she could take this horrible illness and throw it in with the wash; then it would just disappear forever.

Slowly Katy’s eyes glanced upon the present sitting on the coffee table. She lifts it unto her lap and read the label that was attached to the bow.
‘To my darling Katy, I love you more than you could ever know, this is just for you being so brave over the last few months. I love you John x’.
Her hands tugged at the paper and she began tearing at it quickly. She opened the box and the most wondrous sight appeared before her. It glistened in the shards of daylight slicing through the window, the moment she saw it, she thought it was wonderful. It was a magical gold necklace, and there was something familiar about it.

That’s right, it was when she was on the high street with John the other day. She allowed herself to go back to last Saturday when she first spotted it in the jeweller’s window. Katy wasn’t fond of jewellery, she didn’t own much, apart from her engagement and wedding rings. She only really wanted to wear something if she really loved it, not for the sake of showing off. As her eyes were drawn to the necklace, her face lit up even in the harsh conditions of a cold February afternoon. She began shaking John’s arm.

‘Oh John! Look at that, isn’t it beautiful!’
‘It’s gorgeous, just like you!’ John knew it sounded tacky but couldn’t help saying it.
‘A beautiful necklace deserves to be sitting on the shoulders of a beautiful lady.’
Katy looked at John with an embarrassed smile on her face.
‘Oh don’t say that!’ Katy said
‘Why not, it’s true’
She could make out a vague reflection through the shop glass window.
‘Look at me, who could fancy me? I look ugly and fat.’
‘Don’t be silly’. John said. Katy pulled his face toward her so he could see her complete image in his field of vision.
‘Look at me! How could you say you love me when I look so hideous.’
‘I love so much; come here.’

John pulled her toward him and kissed her on the lips; Katy began crying. He held her close as a tear appeared on his cheek. They pulled away from each other and he began rubbing the tears away from both their cheeks.
‘Look at us eh? We are a right pair. Come on we’d better go or we’ll be late and you know how my mother gets.’
He grabbed Katy’s hand and they began walking, John being careful not to go to fast for Katy. She loved the afternoon air, it felt so cold but somehow good for her; they were like imaginary knives cutting through the cruel wind. Katy didn’t want to be anywhere but here with John.

The haze turned white and Katy opened her eyes, it took her a few moments to realise she was back in the living room and not out with John. Her heart started to shake and she exhaled sharp breaths. It was starting again, but there was nothing to do but cope with it herself; she was well aware John wouldn’t be back for a few hours. She steadied herself and pushed herself into an upright position. It was the best way to stop her vomiting, but still the gagging reflex was pushing itself further toward her throat.

She grabbed below her feet and found the bowl under the table, it was always there for emergencies. Just as she pulled it toward her lap she expelled vomit into it. The tears prickled on the side of her eyes, as she threw up into the bowl again. Katy instantly felt better, it was like her old self was returning, but it was a slow process.

As she pushed the bowl back under the table she noticed something else in the box. Next to the necklace was a picture, it was a picture of John. She noticed that his head was shaved; as she pondered the picture, she realised he must have taken this earlier today, as she had kissed his gorgeous blonde strands last night. Here was her man, standing in the picture with no hair; Katy began crying with laughter, all she could think was how amazing he was for doing this.

Her giggles faded as she reached up to touch her head. Katy’s fingers ran across the bare scalp, she could feel the strands of stubble beginning to grow again. The tears started again, this time she felt as if she was powerless to stop them. Her fingers retracted from her head and she dropped them into her lap. Suddenly she noticed writing on the bottom of the picture; she followed the instructions to turn over, she began reading.

‘My darling Katy. I did this while you were asleep this morning I hope you can forgive me; I know how much you liked my blonde hair. I know this gesture is nothing compared with what you have been through the past few months. I just need to tell you how brave you have been, and how happy I am that you have beaten the cancer into submission – I always knew you could do it!
Here is to us having a happy and healthy long life together. At least I can somehow feel what it is like to lose your hair; I must admit it does feel strange! And now we can grow it back together. All my love, John xxx’.

Katy smiled and wiped the tears that were forming on her cheeks. She still couldn’t believe how strong John had been through all of this. She remembered the first few years of marriage and how difficult they had been. It seemed like this illness had made them both mature, and allowed their love to grow, to evolve into the strongest passion she had ever known. She kissed the picture of John and whispered to him
‘I love you’.

Copyright David Mackeeg 2003

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The following comments are for "The Gift"
by gray_v_00

beautiful. just beautiful.
This was a beautiful piece of writing. It's just flowing with emotion and meaning.
I know someone in a similar position, and this really does help me to understand. :) Thank you.
Score 10/10. (And I don't give perfect scores lightly)

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: March 5, 2003 )

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