Novel Excerpt
By Maggie Giles

“You aren’t hospital staff,” he said. He didn’t reach for his call button, instead eyeing Blaine curiously. “How did you get in after hours?”

Blaine looked to the door, planning to leave when the footsteps passed.

The boy seemed to notice. “You’ll have to tell me or I’ll hit the call button and four nurses will be in here.”

“Is it smart to threaten someone you don’t know?” Blaine frowned. The boy had guts, he’d give him that.

The boy shrugged. “I’m only a few years from death. I’ve been in this hospital since I was eight. There’s not much you could do to me.”

Blaine stepped closer to him. The boy looked perhaps sixteen or seventeen. It was hard to tell if he was any older.

“How long have you been here?” Blaine asked.

He glanced to his nightstand table where a clock radio with the date rested. “Ten years in two weeks.”

“Wow.” Blaine moved further into the room, reaching for his chart at the end of the bed. The boy moved his hand closer to the call button as Blaine grew nearer, but didn’t touch it or stop him taking the chart. His eyes were only filled with curiosity. “Acke?”

“That would be my name,” Acke said. ” So you can read. What else?”

Blaine put the chart down. Acke was in the hospital for a rare disease. His bones were slowly deteriorating. His body was brittle and weak. “You’re very sick.”

Acke crossed his arms. “Tell me something I don’t know. Like who you are.”

Blaine shook his head. “It’s not important.” He moved back towards the door.

“You look familiar,” Acke said. His eyebrows scrunched together like he was trying hard to remember something. “You used to visit with Ali whenever that quiet woman was here.”

Blaine frowned and turned back to him. “How often did I visit?”

“Not often.” Acke said. “Ali came more. She used to bring me things and give me a taste of the outside. She stopped coming five years ago. That woman returned only once after that and Ali didn’t come.”

“That wasn’t me that came,” Blaine said. “You must be confused.”

The boy’s frown drooped lower, his forehead creased with concentration.

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