A world where love is literally life or death
Tom sat in the doctor's office waiting room quickly thumbing through a magazine as his right leg bounced uncontrollably. He jumped as he heard his name called. "That's me," he said.
"Come on back this way and stop at the scale," the nurse directed. "Okay, back to room 3." She pointed the way using her pen.
Tom slid onto the exam table and wiping his sweaty palms on the crinkly paper.
"Open!" the nurse instructed before poking a thermometer under his tongue. "Arm please." She positioned the blood pressure cuff on and pumped it tight with air. She typed the results into a laptop. "Okay, the doctor will be in shortly."
Sitting there he thought about his childhood neighbor Mr. Pitts. The day he died, alone. His mother's words as they wheeled him out haunted him. "He was young and healthy. Love could have saved him," She sighed. Could it be? Tom thought to himself. Surely, I am not draining.
A knock on the door startled him. "Hello, I'm Dr. Scott. I would as you how you are, but the fact that you're here to see me answers that question." He smiled.
"I haven't felt good in weeks," Tom said. "I'm fatigued; my heart does flip-flops in my chest, and look at my face! It's lost all its color."
"Let me have a closer look at you" Dr. Scott put the stethoscope to Tom's chest. "Breathe. Another deep one." He looked in his ears, at this throat and felt his abdomen. "Well, I think you're draining."
"What? How?" Tom shook his head. "No. I have someone to love me. Shelly. She loves me. I can't be draining."
The doctor looked at his chart. "There's no sign of disease and you're too young to just die."
"I don't understand. I have love in my life."
"You know it has to pure love to keep you alive, and it looks like these symptoms started about three weeks ago? Am I correct?"
"What's changed in your life?"
Tom stared at the floor. "My mother died."
"That could be it. Mother's are pure love you know." Dr. Scott wrote out a prescription. "This will slow the process down, but unless you get a dose of pure love, well, you know." Tom left the doctor's office feeling worse than before. He had to hurry and fill the prescription, so he could find a way to save his life.
Tom swallowed his pill dry as soon as he left the pharmacy and went straight home. "Shelly! Are you here?"
"I'm in the laundry room, Tom."
Tom raced to her and held her hands. "Tell me you love me, Shel."
Shelly hesitated. "I love you, "she said with no emotion.
"No shel, like you mean it." He stared into her eyes. "You don't do you?" He pushed her away. "You don't love me. At least not pure love."
Shelly turned away from him. "Not for a while now, Tom. " She took a deep breath and turned to face him. "I was going to tell you, but then your mother died and I..."
"No. This can't be happening." Tom shook his head a backed away from her. "I'm draining, Shel. Look at me. Can't you see I'm wasting away?" His body shook with anger. "I have to find someone to love me or I'm a dead man."
"What about your dad," Shelly asked. "He has to love you, right. Get a dose of love from him."
"Shel, you're right. My dad!" Tom pulled his phone from his pocket. "Dear old dad. He has to love me. I'm part of him."
He scrolled through his contacts and found Dad's number. It rang several times before someone answered. "Dad!" Tom blurted out. "It's Tom. Your son. I need to come to see you and as soon as possible to get a dose of love." Tom sat silent and listened as his dad explained he was too busy vacationing in Cancun and that he can't give Tom the love he wants."
Tom threw his phone across the room and fell back on the sofa. "Never wanted kids anyway. What kind of father tells you that, even if it is true?"
Shelly sat down next to him. "I'm sorry, Tom. Really I am." She kissed his forehead.
He turned to her, grabbed her by the shoulders. "What can I do to make you love me again?"
"Nothing, Tom! Let go of me." She pushed him away. "I'm leaving. I'm sorry."
Tom took another pill, but weakness overcame him. He went to rest and think. As he stared up at the ceiling in his room, his thought about his mother. She always loved him. Hugged him. Sent him care packages. Even when he was too busy to see her and love her in return, she gave him love.
"I drained my mom." Tom blurted out crying. "She said that wasn't why she was sick, but it had to be. She was a healthy, middle-aged woman before I left."
Tom thought back to when she fell ill. It was right after he left for college. But he'd return and she'd feel better--for a while. But once he moved out of state and fell in love with Shelly, he didn't see his mother and didn't offer love.
Tom took his mother's photo off his dresser and stared at it. "My love could have saved you."