Jasmine's eyes, not their usual bright green, glistened with the ghosts of her past as she let her gaze fall from the man before her to the perfectly sanitized white floor beneath their feet. Finally, she was beginning to feel like she could stand again. Finally, she was finding her strength. Her hope. And just when the ground was starting to feel firm underneath her, it was torn out and she found herself laying flat on her back, this time metaphorically. In this particular moment in time, she wasn't sure which one was worse, being stuck in a figurative sense or in a literal sense.
At least if she was physically on the ground, she knew she wouldn't be able to stay there forever. There would be help. This time, however...
"What..." she managed to choke out, her eyes flickering up to her nurse before glancing back down at her feet again. God, she was pale. You almost couldn't see the colorless toes against the floor. She licked her lips slowly, thoughtfully, before speaking again. "What do you mean?"
"I'm being transferred out of this hospital," the man said, his tone even as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. "I don't think it's safe for your recovery or for my career if I stay here, so I asked to be relocated to a new hospital."
"Why..." For some reason, Jasmine felt like the words she knew she needed to say were strangling her. She couldn't breathe. Just last week, everything felt fine. Of course, that was before her surgery, but the procedure had gone well enough and she was on her way to a full recovery. It would take time, but she wasn't terminal anymore. She was a miracle case. So why was he giving up on her now? The young woman fidgeted with the sleeve of her hospital gown, self-conscious over the state of herself underneath the thin fabric, before pulling the useless thing tighter around her torso. She had so many questions, so many things she wanted to know, but none of them would come out. It was as though that stare of Chad's had paralyzed her and she would take anything that came out of his mouth without arguing. Anything at all.
Because Chad wasn't like the others. He wasn't a distraction from her illness. He wasn't something she could obsess over so she didn't have to focus on the fact that she was dying. No, whatever he said was wrong. It was all wrong. Chad was the one thing that gave Jasmine hope. When she felt that all hope was lost, when she'd all but given up on herself, he showed her why she shouldn't. That there was more out there, that she wasn't hopeless. She wasn't. He helped her find her ground, helped her believe in herself again. No, not "again." For the first time in her life. He had no idea what he'd done for her. He underestimated just how important to her recovery he had been.
Worst of all, he was leaving because he was scared. Because he knew what was happening. He knew that once she was out of there, once she was stronger and didn't need to use him as a crutch anymore, that there was a chance for her to become more to him than he was now. That terrified him, she could see it. He liked the idea of her, but when he was in a position to actually have her, this is what he did?
Jasmine could feel her heart breaking.
"I have to do this, Jasmine," he said, the finality of his tone causing tears to sting the backs of Jasmine's eyes. "It's for the best."
"Really?" she asked, her voice cracking as she lifted her head to meet his gaze. "You think that?"
"Yes. I do."
"What..." The young woman paused and took a deep breath, one that made her body tremble, her eyes closed in a futile attempt to keep her composure. Once she opened her eyes again, the hurt was visible within their foggy green depths. "What changed, Chad? Why now?"
"I just have to go. You won't listen to me otherwise."
"I won't listen?" She blinked. "What the hell does that mean?"
"It's nothing personal. Sometimes two good people just don't work together. Sometimes they don't fit. And I know you wish we did, but we just... We're not cut from the same stuff, you and I. Sure, it'd be great for a little while, but I don't see how this could work."
"Chad, I'm still in the hospital. I'm not myself yet. I'm working on getting there, but I just... I need time. Please give me time. I can be that girl you want me to be. I can, just... Just don't give up on me. Please don't give up on me."
"I'm sorry, Jasmine. I know it's not how you wanted things to be, but this is what we have to do." Chad looked down at his boots after that, clearly at a loss for anything else to say, before looking back up at her and attempting a half smile. "You'll be great one day, you know. A great wife and mother and you'll beat this. You'll get better and you'll be okay again. But... when you do, it won't be me that you go home to. The sooner you let this go and move on, the better it'll be for you in the long run."
Jasmine couldn't believe what she was hearing, but she wasn't in a place to argue, despite how badly she wanted to. Oh God, did she want to. She was torn between reaching out and slapping him and just breaking down and crying. But no, she wouldn't do that. Neither of those things, not around him. She swallowed her pride and nodded, her arms tightening around herself. "Right. I... I guess I'll have to do that, then."
"No," she said quickly, shaking her head. "No, don't do that to me. Just.... just go. Good luck at your new hospital."
His face seemed to fall at that. His frown pained Jasmine, but she didn't move from where she stood. She couldn't. Not anymore. "We can still be friends--"
"No, Chad. We can't. At least, not right now." Jasmine glanced aside at her bed, where she'd spent so many months wasting away before he came into her life, and she felt something within her shatter. Tears stung her eyes again, but she refused to let them fall. She wiped her face with her hands before sniffling and looking back at her nurse. Because that's all he was to her now -- a nurse. She swallowed again (damn lumps kept forming in her throat). "You'd better go. Good luck. Seriously. You deserve some good in your life, and I hope this move helps you."
Chad opened his mouth to say something, but realised it was entirely pointless and instead nodded once before turning on his heel. There was a pause, a moment of hesitation, and Jasmine found herself wishing that in that moment he decided he was being absurd and would choose her over this fear of his. But no, she knew him better than that. He was already gone.
By the time she was left alone in the room, she hardly had the strength to make it the couple of steps back to her bed before she collapsed onto it, the tears rolling hot and heavy down her cheeks. She pulled her thin legs up to her chest and just laid there in a ball for what felt like hours, crying off and on when she was still conscious. (Medication after the surgery had a tendency to knock her out, which she couldn't have been more grateful for than she was then.) She didn't want to accept it. She couldn't accept it.
He couldn't have just let her go... Could he?
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