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I opened the door to her room and she sat up, staring at me.

Tilting her head to the side, she furrowed her brow.

“You look terrible, Jake,” she said. “What the hell has gotten into you?”

Exhaling, I walked over and hugged her.

“Jake?” She squeezed my arms. “Are you okay? You don’t normally hug me for so long.”

I hugged her for a few more seconds before letting go. “How long have you been up?”

“Since six this morning. Why?”

“No reason. Do you know what year it is right now?”

“2014.” She shrugged. “2015, maybe.”

“Close enough,” I said. “How old do you think I am right now?”

“Depending on the year you’re thirty-eight or thirty-nine.”

“And what do I do for a living?”

“From the way this conversation is going, you host a version of Jeopardy.”

I laughed and she smiled.

“You fly planes like you should, Jake,” she said. “You also get angry so often that you’re considering a way to be paid for testing stress balls.”

“I’ve never considered that.”

“You should.” She laughed, patting a spot on her mattress. “Sit down.”

I took off my jacket and obliged.

“My questions are far more interesting than yours. Is it my turn?”

“Yes. Ask away.”

“Are you trying to have any babies yet?” she asked. “Any mini-Jakes I need to look forward to?”

“No. Can we talk about something else? How you’re feeling perhaps?”

“I’m great,” she said. “For now, anyway. Not sure how long this will last.”

“It’s already been worth the drive for me.”

Laughing, she pointed to her stack of blankets in the corner, and I covered her in a new one, taking my seat next to her again. When her laughter stopped, she got serious all of a sudden. “If I ask you something, do you promise to tell the truth?”

“Only if it won’t hurt you.”

“Okay.” She nodded. “Okay, that’s fair enough. When was the last time I was like this? Lucid for more than an hour at a time?”

“Please don’t make me answer that.”

“Tell me.” She smiled faintly. “I probably won’t remember this moment in a day or two anyway.”

I kissed her forehead. “Two years ago.”

“Years ago?” Tears welled in her eyes.

I nodded. “You’ve had moments, hours here or there, but full days? Two years ago.”

“Is it true that you’re the one who sends me the blankets and care packages every day? It’s you?”

I nodded, noticing the tears rolling down her face.

“And, the catering company that only delivers to me. Is that you, too?”

“Yes.” I wiped away her tears. “You hate the food they serve here. You won’t even eat their ice cream. You don’t trust it for some reason.”

She laughed, holding her stomach. “Thank you, Jake. Thank you very much.”

“You’re welcome.” I asked her more questions, trying to soak up as much time as I could, trying to enjoy the company of the only person in my life worth talking to.

Occasionally, she would interrupt my questions and say, “Okay...What’s her name?” because she swore all of my relationship questions meant something other than casual conversation. That I was thinking about someone, but I wasn’t. I hadn’t thought about Gillian until just now.

“Before I forget—ha!” She snorted, pulling a notebook from underneath her pillow. “I apparently told the staff to give me this notebook if I was ever lucid for more than a day.” She flipped the pages open. “I need you to speak with your father and your brother when you get a chance.”



“Absolutely not. They’re the reason you’re like this. They’re dead to me.”

“It’s important.” She looked sincere. “Really important.”

“Then why can’t you tell me?”

“Because you need to hear it from them.” She flipped to another page. “You also need to deliver a few messages for me. For your father, you need to tell him that I forgive him for all of his lies, and I do wish him the best with Elite. I really do.”

I touched her forehead, certain she was coming down with something, that she couldn’t be serious.

“Also, tell your brother that I miss him. That I love him and his children very much. Even though well, you know...” She frowned. “I’d rather not think about how he erased you.”

“What about Riley? Since I’m going on a hate tour, would you like me to deliver a message to her as well?”

“No.” She scrunched up her face. “I never did like that cunt. I had a feeling she was always a little too nice to your father, and I warned you about her, even. You should’ve listened.”

This time it was me who laughed. “Lesson learned.”

“Is it?” She closed her notebook. “If it truly is, whatever woman you’re currently over there thinking about—I can tell, so don’t try to deny it...Whoever she is, maybe settle down together, have some grandchildren that I’ll be lucid enough to enjoy for a few hours another two years from now?” She squeezed my hand. “I’m always right, Jake. Just do what I say.”