His office even looked like it was a fake doctor’s office. On the mantel behind his desk was a huge deer head that he swore he shot down with his eyes closed years ago. Beside the deer head was what was supposed to be a black bear’s fur, but really it was just a rug he probably found from Walmart on clearance. He pushed the story of how he killed the bear with a beer can in his right hand and a shotgun in his left.

On the corner of his desk, TJ had a jar of jelly beans along with black licorice sitting on the right side.

It blew my mind that a doctor was pushing candy into the faces of his patients so much, but for TJ it made sense, seeing how his wife Effie was one of the town’s few dentists and she was always looking for new patients.

TJ and his wife should’ve used more common sense when picking out the candy though, because nobody in their right mind ate black licorice.

I crossed my arms, pressing them against my body for heat. Shit. I was freezing. My eyes moved to the chair right beside me where Kellan sat.

When I looked up to TJ I saw his lips were still moving pretty quickly. He kept explaining the situation over and over again. At least that’s what I thought he was doing. I couldn’t be certain though, because I wasn’t listening anymore.

I didn’t know the exact moment when I stopped hearing the words flying from his tongue, but for the past five or ten minutes I was simply watching his mouth move. Meaningless sounds flowing from his lips.

My hands gripped the side of my chair and I held on tight.

The shock was the worst part, not knowing if I should laugh or cry at the diagnosis. Not knowing if I should get pissed and punch a wall. Not knowing how long I had left with my brother. The overwhelming feeling of isolation took my breaths. The panicked heartbeats that rolled through my system were terrifying, yet not unfamiliar. The fear and anger made each moment unbearable.

“Logan,” TJ said, pulling me back into the conversation. “This isn’t the end for your brother. He’s working with the best doctors in the state. He’s getting the best treatment out there.”

Kellan brushed his fingers against his neck and nodded his head. “This isn’t the end for me, Logan. It’s just a hiccup.” His head nodding paired with his word choice, confused me. If it wasn’t the end, wouldn’t he shake his head instead of nodding?

My right hand brushed against my cheek and I cleared my throat. “We need a second opinion.” I started pacing the small patio porch and my hands raced through my hair. “And then we want a third opinion. And a fourth.”

That’s what people did, right? Searched for an answer that was more pleasant? More promising?

We needed a better answer.

“Logan…” TJ grimaced. “Getting second opinions will only slow us down. We are already attacking this head on, and we are hopeful—”

It happened again. I stopped listening.

The rest of the meeting continued, but I didn’t say another word. There wasn’t anything to say anymore.

Kellan and I drove in silence the whole way back to his house, and my mind wouldn’t shut up, replaying the word cancer over and over again.

My brother, my hero, my best friend had cancer.

And I could no longer breathe.


When Kellan told me that Erika wanted to stop somewhere before she dropped me off at Ma’s, I wouldn’t have imagined us sitting in aisle five of a store for over twenty minutes. It had been a full day since Logan told me the news about his health, and I only thought about using drugs every minute to cope—which was better than every second. Erika had a different kind of addiction that helped her cope with stress, though, called Pottery Barn.

“How long are we going to be here?” I asked Erika, as we stood in front of a display of overpriced plates. We’d been standing there for at least twenty minutes, as she contemplated which new sets of plates to pick up, seeing as how she broke pretty much all of the china in their house.

“Will you hush,” she ordered, her arms crossed, her eyes narrowed, and her mind obviously still completely insane. “This takes time.”

“Not really.” I gestured toward a set. “Look. Plates. Oh, look, more plates. Gee, what do we have here, Erika? Why, I think it’s plates.”

“Why do you have to be so difficult all the time? I was really hoping over these five years that you would’ve grown up a bit.”

“Sorry to disappoint. But seriously, can we get going?”

She gave me an annoyed look. “Why are you in such a rush to go see your mother anyway? You’ve been gone five years, leaving Kellan to handle everything. He had to be there when she fell apart, and you didn’t even check in on her. You never called her or anything, so why now?”

“Because my brother has cancer, my mother’s an addict, and I feel like a shit son and brother for leaving and never coming back. Is that what you want to hear, Erika? I get it, I’m a fuck up. But if you could honestly just take two seconds to stop throwing it in my face, that would be really freaking nice.”

She huffed once, rocking back and forth in her heels. Her stare turned from me, to the plates before us, and we went back to our silence.

Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen-fucking-minutes.

“That one,” she nodded, pointing in front of her. “I’ll take that one. Grab two sets, Logan.”

Turning on her heels, she headed off in the direction of the cashier, leaving me flabbergasted. “Why am I getting two sets?!” I shouted. She didn’t bother to answer me, she just hurried off.

Juggling the two sets in my arms, I staggered to the front of the shop, setting the boxes down in front of the cashier. Erika and I remained quiet until the cashier told us the final pricing of the plates.

“One hundred and eight dollars, and twenty-three cents.”

“You have got to be shitting me,” I choked out. “You’re going to pay over one hundred bucks for plates?”

“That’s none of your business what I do with my money.”

“Yeah, but come on, Erika. You could easily buy some cheap plates from a dollar store or something, seeing how you’ll probably break them tomorrow anyway.”

“I don’t question what Kellan spends his money on, or should I say who he spends it on. So I’d rather you not question my spending choices.”

“You knew Kellan was giving me money?”