The Question of the Year

By Daniel Hernandez

The night before his diagnosis he walked into my room around three a.m. to tell me that he couldn't stop vomiting. He called my name from the doorway and said literally just that. I squinted, and saw one long, languid figure, swaying in the light of the hallway – his shadow sprawled across my bedroom floor. "I'm vomiting blood," he said – his voice stressed the word "blood."

I avoided looking directly at him because the light bothered me. "Do you want to go to the hospital?" I said. He didn't answer right away, just stood with his chin glued to his chest in a hangdog expression. I noticed he was breathing heavily and quickly through his nose, clearly straining to control his nausea.

"No," he finally said.

"Then what do you want me to do?" I sat up in my bed and stared at him, wide awake now.

"I don't know," he said, and he mumbled some curse words in a strained whimper. "Just make sure I'm not dead in the morning."