When the Dawn Breaks

When the Dawn BreaksLeigh is in hospital, and she knows she’s really sick.

One night she meets Toby, a little kid who was in a serious accident, and is almost ready to go home.

But is Toby all that he seems? Or is he on a special mission?

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Doctor Deveraux told me I probably wouldn’t reach my fourteenth birthday. I guess I’m just stubborn. I turned fourteen three days ago and I’m still here. Pretty weak and wasted, but still here. I won’t be for long though. I haven’t got the strength to hang on much longer.

Three months ago everything was normal. My dad and I lived just outside Williams Bay on a huge block of land with a colony of koalas down the back. I had the best ever best friend Kelly Donnigan, and our soccer team was heading for the district finals.

Then eleven weeks ago I started feeling sick and dizzy, and getting these bad headaches in the morning. I didn’t tell Dad – I should’ve, I know, but he got sacked a few weeks before that and he was flat out searching for a new job.

And two weeks ago I had a seizure at school and the ambulance came and took me to hospital. I’ve been here ever since.

Doc Dev’s a nice bloke. He tells you stuff straight with no fancy words or mucking around, and he does it in a nice way. He took blood samples and stuck me in the MRI – noisiest thing ever! – and kept me in the isolation ward until the tests came back.

When they did he called Dad in and told us the results and what they meant. Then he left us so we could have a good cry together.

I’ve got medulloblastoma, which is a type of brain cancer. Usually they’d treat it with surgery or chemotherapy, but mine’s too big and growing too fast. I tried to joke about it and said it was just like me to do things to the max but I made Dad cry and then I cried and the whole thing was a soggy mess.

When Dad had gone I asked Doc Dev how long he reckons I’ve got. He said maybe two months.

But like I said, I’m still hanging on.

Actually I’m sort of used to the idea of dying now. I’ve been in this isolation room in the hospital for two and a half months now, and I’ve done a lot of thinking. Not much else to do really. The only people allowed in here are Doc Dev, the nurses and Dad – not even Kelly can come in – and everyone has to wear masks; my immune system’s packing up on me, and a flu germ could kill me before the leukaemia does.

The isolation room is pretty dull. The ceiling and the floor are a sort of smoky cream colour, and the walls are a pale yellow. There’s only one window, but it faces south, so I can’t see the dawn – I used to love to get up super-early and watch the sun rise. The room’s awful bare too – no flowers allowed; germs again –but they did let Dad bring in my laptop and some books and jigsaws. I’ve also got a radio and a small TV, which keep me from getting too bored.

I used to get up and prowl around my room but the last couple of weeks I’ve had trouble balancing – not fun when the world tips around you when you’re standing still – so I stay in bed unless I have to.

Nights are the worst. For the first few weeks I either cried myself to sleep or lay awake most of the night, scared that if I went to sleep I’d never wake up. I used to sit propped up on my pillows, either reading or just staring into the gloom, the moon painting white streaks across my bed.

It was on one of those stare-into-the-gloom nights that I first met the boy.