"Alicia?" said a familiar voice. I smiled halfheartedly at its owner as she sat down across from me.
"Hey, Mrs. Iero."
"Call me Linda, honey. 'Mrs. Iero' makes me feel old." I almost laughed at her statement. She treated me like an old friend. Maybe it was what I needed.
"How's Frank doing?" I asked tentatively. She sighed deeply before answering me.
"He can't hear anything. The doctor told me that normally they would try and replace his eardrums, but the rest of his ear has been too damaged by this...disease, I guess...so it wouldn't be worth it."
"Mikey can't see," I said simply. It was all I could manage at the moment.
"I'm so sorry, Alicia. Have you talked to him yet?" she asked. I nodded.
"Just to comfort him, though. I still need to tell him about Gerard."
"What's happened to him? He didn't say anything when I told him his parents were coming," she said with a hint of worry. I looked away, feeling fresh tears fill my eyes.
"He...he can't talk. He's lost his voice." I told her about the surgery the doctors were going to try, and even though she said it would probably be successful, I could tell that neither of us had much faith in it. We both just wanted this to be over.
I didn't want to tell Mikey about his brother, but I felt he had a right to know. He would find out eventually, anyway, and if he learned I had kept it from him, he would break down.
Somehow, though, I just couldn't tell him about Frank. It would break his heart.
"I'll go with you, if you'd like," Linda said softly, interrupting my train of thought. I slowly shook my head.
"No, I'll be okay. Thanks, though," I said, standing and tossing the food in the trash. I was too distracted to eat. Besides, I had to tell him before I changed my mind. I nervously walked to the elevator, then down the hallway to his room. 'The sooner he knows, the better,' I thought to myself. It wasn't working.