They all look wary now. She is the freak. We want the norms.

Do you remember what you said to me when I told you I was going with him?

You going to let me out of the room?He tucked the tablet under his arm. I’ll clear it. But if you do start expelling phlegm again, don’t go. For everyone’s safety. Deal?

The moment he left, my parents filed back in, resuming their positions.So, Dad said. Any ‘get out of jail free’ cards?Not yet. They’re going to look at the X-ray.

Mom pulled out her knitting again, something new, probably another endless throw.You know, you guys don’t have to stay here. I’m going to be fine. Dad, don’t you have to get back to work?

I’m allowed to take sick time for family. He snapped open a newspaper. This is better than work any day.

I reached for my backpack even though I was caught up on all my reading. Gavin had brought the astronomy work home, but I had no idea what the assignments were for my lit classes. My e-mails to the profs had just gotten kind replies of Get well. I didn’t want to lose those credit hours, and I couldn’t even imagine the work that was piling up. I’d write them again today, tell them I was up for writing the papers, at least.I scrubbed the surface of the counter, taking out a stain like I could do the same with the last five years. Yeah, I’ve heard that’s a thing now.

Call waiting beeped, and my shoulders softened. Hey, Miranda, that’s Mom. I have to go. Congrats on the girl, and I’ll catch you later, okay?I’ll give Grace your best.

Tell her I’ll see her soon. Two weeks.I clicked over, hitting speaker, and rested the phone on the counter as I took ingredients out for dinner.