I traced the ink rippling up from the sketch of the boy’s t-shirt, thumbnail grazing every smear and tear. It didn’t feel so foreign anymore or like some ancient thing that needed unraveling. Because he was a person. A person who might belong there among my old books and records and my grandmother’s quilt and every tree I’d ever climbed as a child. A person I might have been meant to meet. He was a person.
I sat there trying to make sense of things, wafting between fear and impatience. Because I had two choices: I could wait on the universe or I could find him first. I could find him.
There was a light knock on the door. “Homework?”
I flipped my sketchbook closed. “Yeah, still catching up.”
My mom sat on the edge of my bed. “So, I just talked to Dr. Sabine.”
“About the trial?”
“No, not exactly. I…might have asked her what she thought about you touring some college campuses this spring.”
“What?” I sat up. “Really? What did she say?”
“She said it couldn’t hurt. But she also said we have to be realistic about our expectations.”
“You may not get to go as far as you’d like.”
“I know,” I repeated.
“You may not get to…”
“I get it. Trust me. I am expectation free,” I said, even though I’d already decorated my dorm in my head and decided what I’d pack and made my class schedule. “Zero expectations.”
“You’re sure you want to do this?” she asked.
And I was sure. I knew I wanted to go, to live that life even if it was just for a day. What I wasn’t sure of was whether or not I’d be able to find a way to manage my episodes, if some spontaneous discovery in the next few months would lead to a cure. Or if the things that were happening to me were a sign that a cure, even if I did manage to find one, wouldn’t do much good.
But I could hope, right? I could go and I could hope.
“Okay,” my mom sighed, “then I’ll make the arrangements.” She placed a hand on my forehead. It was warm. “You’re brave, you know that?”
I smiled even though all sick people are brave by default. My mom’s eyes flicked to my window. That’s when I registered the voices, someone yelling. She shot up and I followed her outside, shadows tangled in the grass. My uncle’s shoulders were tensed and then for the first time in eight months I saw my dad. He was pinned against the door of a truck I didn’t recognize, my uncle gripping his shoulders.