I touched the inside of his elbow. “Hey,” I whispered hopefully. “It isn’t all that bad, right?” He looked down. My attempt to cheer him was not truly working. “At least,” I continued in the whisper “you’ll come to see me, if I . . . ” my voice began to crack. “If I actually have to stay in the hospital awhile?” I looked down quickly. I knew the answer: I don’t want to drive that far. I don’t have time.

“Of course, Lolita.” he said, and my head jerked up because I hadn’t heard my name in so long, not in the diminutive, and because of the assuredness of the instantaneous yes.


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