I trudged back to my room, feeling so worn out. All I wanted to do lately was sleep, but the tenderness in my jaw was so uncomfortable I never stayed asleep for long.
Despite the evidence, I’d wanted to believe the antibiotics were working. It was too scary to think that something could be really wrong even as the pain got worse and the lump under my jaw grew big enough to be visible. Why was this happening? Maybe it was a punishment?
I hadn’t yet told my parents what was going on. Why worry them until I had more concrete information? Or maybe it would just go away on its own.
Lacey sat on her bed studying, wearing a skirt and nylons even in this casual setting. I was a little relieved to see that Ian wasn’t there for once. He’d been spending way too much time in our room, trying to escape the malodorous feet and other antics of his inconsiderate roommate. I didn’t have anything against him, really, but sometimes he got on my nerves. But what could I say? He was Lacey’s friend, practically her brother.
“How did it go?” Lacey asked, putting aside her books.
I told her about the surgery, and she gave me a hug.
“My appointment is Friday morning. I’m pretty freaked out. Do you think you could walk there with me?”
“Oh, honey, I wish I could. My parents are coming to take me home for the weekend on Thursday night. But you shouldn’t go alone, and definitely shouldn’t walk there or back. How about I ask Ian for you? It’ll be better anyway. He has a car you know. ”
“I guess so.”
I thought about asking Breanne to go with me instead. But Lacey had a point. I remembered how loopy I was after surgery in August. Even though the dentist office was right across the street from campus, it was ridiculous to think of walking back after a procedure like that. Ian could be annoying, but not many freshmen or even sophomores had a car on campus, and I didn’t feel like I knew Phoebe well enough to impose. Just the thought of finding someone else to help was exhausting. Ian it would have to be.
I decided to skip the rest of my afternoon classes and take a nap before calling Mom. Lacey went to the lobby to finish studying. I loaded up on ibuprofen, hoping to take the edge off the pain so I could get some deeper sleep.
When I woke up, it was dark. What time was it anyway? After eight? Had I really slept that long? The dining hall was already closed. Not that it mattered. I didn’t have much of an appetite lately, and when I did, my mouth didn’t open far enough to eat anything other than pizza or soup.
I flipped open the laptop computer my parents had given me as a graduation present and launched Skype. It was the first time I’d called home since the second week of school.
“Giselle! What a nice surprise! I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever hear from you again.” Mom said. I could see her fiddling with her web cam as she spoke. Satisfied with its position, she finally looked at her screen. “Oh my God, you look awful! What’s wrong?”
“Do I really look that bad?”
“Your face is pale. And thin, much too thin. Your eyes—they’re glassy. I can always tell you’re sick when your eyes look like that. You just look plain exhausted to me. Are you getting enough sleep?”
“I try. I’ve been going to the campus clinic to try to figure out what’s wrong.”
“And what do they say?”
“They think the lump may be a complication from my wisdom tooth surgery.”
“This one.” I turned the side of my face to the screen and pushed my hair back so she could see the marble-sized mass under my jaw.
“Giselle, what is that? How long has that been there? Why is this the first I’m hearing about this?”
“No one knows what it is. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to worry you, I guess. I didn’t want it to be real.” I started to cry. “I’ve been so scared, Mom. And now they want to go back in my mouth and see if there’s any debris causing an infection.”
“But I reminded you every day to swish like the doctor ordered. Didn’t you keep up with it?”
“Maybe not as well as I should.”
“This is crazy. What is God doing with our family? First your Oma and now this. At least with Oma, I can visit and take care of her. With you, I feel so helpless. My baby, so far away. I wish you were here so I could tuck you in bed and take care of you. Have you thought about coming home?”
“I want to stay. I like it here.”
“But you look so sick. Maybe this is a sign—”
“Mom!” I said sharply, although I’d been wondering the same thing lately. Had it really been God’s will to come to Elk River at all?
“Sorry, I just miss you so much already, and now this. If you’re going to stay at least please don’t keep me in the dark any more. I want daily updates until you are better.”
“Okay, I promise. I’m going back to bed. Good night.”
Halfway through the night, I had a bad dream about what the surgeon would find on Friday.