Being Alive
Chapter Two
Chapter One
Chapter Two

I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

There are two breasts of chicken in the wok, cut into tiny little chunks and sizzling amidst the mess of carrots and peas and broccoli.

He read somewhere once that broccoli was supposed to prevent cancer in hamsters.

Maybe we should've eaten more broccoli...

He leans against the counter and watches for a moment as she stirs the mixture, watches as steam pillows just above the stove, listens to the steady hum of the ceiling fan and the gentle tap of the wooden spoon against the insides of the skillet.

Her back is to him, and he hates that he can't see the expression on her face. He wonders if she looks as defeated as he feels, standing there in the almost-silence.

He clears his throat awkwardly and moves so that he's sitting on the counter beside the stove. So that he can see the frown lines on her forehead and the purse of her lips as she stirs.

"I told the fellas."

His voice feels like nothing more than a low rumble in the back of his throat, but she looks up just the same.

"Oh?" She turns around with a delicate frown. "What'd you tell them?"

Cancer. "I just..." He pauses for a moment, clears his throat, glances at the kitchen counter the stove the oven the sink. Anything but her. "Gave them the diagnosis," he finishes quietly.

The steam from the skillet seems to blur his vision as their voices echo in the hollows of his exhausted brain.


"Shit. Shit. Kevin..."

"God, I'm sorry, Kev."

"What kind of cancer? Is there a tumor? Is it operable?"

"Man, I can't even...poor Mik. Is she okay? Man, if there's
anything we can do..."

"Kev? Kevin? Are you okay?"

It had taken him all of five minutes to break down completely. He'd spent the entire afternoon in a ball on the studio floor, sobbing unabashedly into the shoulders of his brothers as he stumbled blindly over words that did nothing express the extent of his anguish.

He wonders if she went through the same thing. Wonders if she came home and cried unabashedly in her hands. Wonders who she called, if anyone. Wonders who was there for her, because he knows that he wasn't.

He glances back at her face, searching now for the dried tracks of tears or little lines of pink around her eyes. He sees nothing and wonders if she cleaned up like he did, if she sat in front of the bathroom mirror splashing handfuls of tap water onto her face and telling herself slowly, over and over, that she needed to be strong.

If she did, it's your fault, Richardson. You should've been therethis morning. You should've held her when she found out. You should've given her a chance to cry.

And he would've, too, but he was so damn scared. Even now, sitting on the counter and watching her cook dinner for the countless night since they first married, he's still so damn scared.

When he left the studio, his eyes were no longer red-rimmed.

He still feels like there's a hole in his heart.

"I'm sure they were supportive."

He glances up in surprise at the sound of her voice. "What?"

"The Boys," she reminds him gently, dipping her chin ever so slightly in expectation. "I'm sure they were supportive when you told them."

"They were," he agrees. Not like you need the support. You're not the one with cancer. You ran out on the one with cancer.

He hates the guy that had to leave the doctor's office this morning. He never wants to be that guy again.

She smiles warmly at him. "I'm glad."

A lump settles in the back of his throat, and he frowns deeply and struggles to swallow around it as his wife returns her attention to their dinner.

"Hey, Mik?"

She glances up expectantly, eyebrows raised in something that looks like amusement. "Kev?"

"I…" I'm sorry I walked out on you this morning. I just want you to know that you're not alone in this. I'm here for you. "I love you."

It's not what he meant to say, but her smile dims and her eyes shine a bit more brightly as the words echo in the almost-silence.

"I love you too," she says into the stir-fry.

"How to Save a Life"
lyrics and music by The Fray