Chapter 7

In the morning I found Mom and Emma in the kitchen. Emma was at the table, playing a videogame, Mom rolling between the lowered counter and the refrigerator making breakfast.

“Where’s dad?” I asked.

“Sleeping in.” Mom cracked open an egg, dropped the yolk into a glass bowl. “Would you like an omelet?”

“Thanks, but I’m kind of in a hurry.”

“It’s eight-thirty. What pressing appointment could you possibly have?”

“Josh invited me over yesterday,” I said, throwing one of my best friend’s names out there to give the story more plausibility. I opened the cupboard, pulled out a box of S’Mores Pop-Tarts, and slid two of them into the toaster. “He wants me to help him set up his new computer.”

“Oh honey,” Mom said. “But after last night” — she threw a glance at my sister — “are you sure you want to leave by yourself?”

“I’m fine, Mom.”

“Still … ”

I walked over to Emma. “Munchkin.”

She didn’t answer, intent on her videogame.

“Emma, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you were adopted.”

Still no response, my sister biting her lip as her thumbs rapidly clicked the keypad.

I leaned down, kissed her on the head, then turned to the toaster as my Pop-Tarts popped up.

“Your father mentioned the officers weren’t as friendly as they could have been,” Mom said as she whisked the eggs.

“He thinks everyone could be nicer than they are.”

“Still,” Mom said, concentrating on the task at hand, and I set the Pop-Tarts aside, walked over to her, took the glass bowl out of her hands, placed it on the counter, leaned down, and put my hands on her knees.

“I love you, Mom.”

I expected a sudden pinprick on my finger, for the ring to at least glow briefly, for my mom’s eyes to widen just a little as she felt her legs for the first time in years.

“I love you too, David,” she said, and it was clear nothing had happened, that her legs were still useless, and with my teeth clenched I stood straight up, turned, and left the kitchen.

“David?” my mom called. “What about your breakfast?”

But I kept walking, intent now on grabbing my bike and helmet, my stomach so empty I was starving but couldn’t eat a thing.

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