THE MOMENT CLASS ENDS, I quietly gather my things and place them inside my bag.
I turn around, startled. When my gaze finds the source of the voice, it turns out to be Adrian, his blue eyes filled with a shy embarrassment.
"I'm sorry I landed that note on your desk," he tells me, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. I find this nervous habit oddly endearing. "It was an accident."
I smile at him reassuringly. "It's no problem, really."
At that moment, someone walks up beside me and speaks. "I apologize for him," Andrew's monotone drifts into my ears. "My brother can be quite insensitive sometimes."
Adrian looks positively affronted by that remark. "It was just an accident, Andrew," he says, pouting.
Andrew pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose, sending a glare towards his twin. "I suggest you shut up for now since you placed a rather... incorrect assumption about me on your silly note."
At the mention of his little message, Adrian perks up. "So, is it true?" he asks eagerly.
Andrew scowls at him. "You are being rude to Allison."
Adrian looks confused. "Allison? Who's...?" His gaze rests on me, and he instantly looks apologetic. "Oh man, I'm so sorry! I keep forgetting—"
"I understand," I gently interrupt, slinging my bag over my shoulder. "You don't need to apologize, Adrian."
I look at the two of them and smile forcibly. "I have an urgent appointment, so I have to go. It was nice meeting you Adrian, Andrew."
When I go outside the room, I pause in my tracks when I hear Andrew's admonishing voice.
"You can't tell a lady that you keep forgetting her, Adrian. It's rude."
"I get it! I'm sorry..."
Andrew seems to sigh. "She remembered your name, but you didn't. Think about that."
Guilt pools in my stomach. Not wasting any more time, I hurriedly walk down the hallway, trying to ignore the tension pulling at my chest.
'I didn't mean to make them argue a bit about me...' I take a deep breath to make myself relax. 'I didn't expect Andrew to know my name, though...'
My thoughts are interrupted by the sudden ringing of my phone.
Taking it out of my pocket, I look at the screen to see who's calling me.
"Hey, Allison... uh, I hate to say this, but..."
I smile softly. "You can't accompany me to my therapist today, is that it?"
There is silence at the end of the line before Devra bursts into frantic apologies.
"I'm really sorry, little sis! It's just that — my boss... he—"
"No, it's okay. Don't apologize!" I tell her immediately. Devra can be quite dramatic sometimes, I think to myself in amusement. "If you leave early again because of me, you might get fired this time. I can handle myself today, all right?"
"But you only got out of the hospital recently—"
"I'll be fine," I assure her. "The therapy's taking place near my school. It's only a couple of blocks away. I can manage."
Devra still doesn't sound convinced, but she sighs instead. "Are you absolutely sure, Allison? If I ever hear that you collapse again—"
"That won't be happening today," I interrupt her worries with a bright voice. "I feel a lot stronger ever since I was discharged due to the advanced medications they gave me. Besides, it's physical therapy this time, so I can really use the exercise."
There is a reluctant pause on Devra's end. "...Okay. Okay. Call me when you get there, okay?" she relents.
"Don't forget, okay, Allison? Don't give your big sister a heart attack!"
I put my phone back inside my pocket and sigh to myself. 'She has become too overprotective lately,' I muse to myself as I start walking along the pavement. 'But... I honestly don't blame her.'
I was first diagnosed with this disease two years ago.
It came literally out of nowhere, and started slow.
I had been applying for the track team as a freshman. I was excited to show them all that I was a fast runner, so I started doing warm-up exercises right away.
When it was my turn to run, I flew like the wind across the field, grinning like an idiot. I thought that I was about to break a new record.
But then, one of my legs suddenly felt stiff.
It didn't feel like a normal muscle cramp, so I kept on running. I was near the finish line already.
The next thing I knew, I almost stumbled on my feet a couple of times.
It was scary. I had never felt anything like it before. I may have been paranoid about it back then, but there was no mistaking the fact that something weird was about to happen to me.
And I was right.
Since that day, I began having trouble writing my notes. Sometimes, it was even difficult to chew my food. These were all gradual occurrences, so I didn't think much of it.
That is, until my speech started to slur.
It was absolutely frightening. I immediately came to my Dad and Devra, crying as I began to explain to them what was happening to me.
They assured me that it was probably nothing serious, but Dad took me to a respectable doctor he knew, just in case. The latter asked me tons of questions and examined me in every way possible.
It took a while due to there being no definitive diagnosis for weeks, but my doctor somehow pulled through with a conclusive report.
That was the day I learned about my disease.
"I had my suspicions, so I consulted with a number of physicians about your full medical history," my doctor explained carefully. "Since we conducted a neurological examination on you at regular intervals, Allison... we finally think that we have come to a final diagnosis."
Dad squeezed my hand. Devra took my arm in hers. Their skins were both cold and clammy. It was an attest to how nervous they really were about my results.
Somehow, feeling their genuine care about my well-being relaxed me a bit as I nervously waited for the doctor's conclusion.
My breath caught in my throat when I saw the flash of pity in his eyes.
"I'm very sorry to tell you this, but you have a rare, progressive neurological disease. It's called ALS, or rather, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis."
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