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Chapter One

     “Sorry I’m so late, Cassie.” Jack appears in the lab at noon looking exhausted. “I had to take Jeremy to the hospital. We were there all night.”
     “Is he okay?” As soon as the words leave my mouth I want to yank them back. Of course Jeremy isn’t okay; he’s never been okay, and he never will be. “I mean, why didn’t you call me? I would have met you there.”
     “It was after midnight.”
     “I’m up late. You should have called.” My heart aches at the idea of them sitting in the ER while I was playing game after game of spider solitaire. “Is he home now?”
     “Yeah.” Without even taking off his coat, Jack drops into the chair next to me. “The doctors don’t know what to do for him.”
     “He keeps pulling through. He has a strong will to live. That's got to count for something.”
     “Yeah, but what kind of life is this?      He was throwing up from the pain.”
     I put my hand on Jack’s arm, feeling helpless. “Why don’t you go home,” I suggest gently. “Just for a few hours, be with him.”
     Jack stands, slips off his coat. “The best way to help Jeremy is to find the gene mutation.”
     “Okay.” Even though I am never anything but positive and hopeful, my stomach clenches up every time he speaks as if his son can be saved. Most people don’t understand what goes into “finding a cure”—they assume it’s just a matter of trying different combinations of chemicals to combat a disease, then joining forces with a drug company to produce medicines which are tested in clinical trials and eventually approved by the FDA. But determining what, exactly, has gone wrong on a molecular level is incredibly complicated, and even after ten years Jack’s search is equivalent to looking for a thumb tack on Mt. Everest.

Robin Stratton © 2016-2020