Chapter 2: Awake

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It's Friday morning.

Right now I should be cursing my alarm clock. Dragging myself out of bed so I don't miss the 9 a.m. lecture I thought was a good idea. I should be nursing a hangover from last night and tugging on yoga pants, the uniform of college girls everywhere.

But I'm not.

Instead, I'm sitting on the couch in my mom's Upper West Side apartment trying to find something entertaining on Netflix. Which is a major challenge. I've already seen everything good. For a moment, I consider Gilmore Girls, but I've already watched all seven seasons... Twice.

"You're up early." Mom glides into the kitchen wearing what she calls her work armor, stilettos and Giorgio Armani blazer.

"And you're late," I respond. I don't tell her that I never went to bed. She wants me to stick to a normal routine since sleep deprivation can trigger an episode, but normal and I don't coexist anymore.  

"Didn't I tell you?" she says, pulling a carton of orange juice from the fridge. "I'll be in London for the weekend. My flight's at eleven."

Mom is the best event planner in New York City, but she travels all over the world for her clients. Last week she did a wedding in Tokyo, and the week before that she was in LA for a charity ball. Her schedule has been so hectic lately, she hasn't bothered telling me the whens and wheres of her job.

Not sure how to respond, I pick at a snag on my sweater. I'm not upset that she's leaving, but I'm not throwing confetti either. Because if she's gone, that means—

"Don't worry. Hannah will stay here until I get back."

My shoulders slump. "Fantastic."

"Her last class ends at three," Mom says, oblivious to my sarcasm. "Think you'll be okay until then?"

I press my lips together and look away. When I'm not in an episode, I don't need to be watched like a child. I'm a perfectly healthy adult who can take care of herself. But that's something my mom has yet to grasp. It's been two years since my diagnosis, and she still doesn't have a thorough understanding of my condition. I don't think she ever intends to either.


"She doesn't need to come home, Mom. It's only three days. I'll be fine."

Hannah is a freshman at NYU, and I hate that my problems are affecting her life almost as much as they do my own. She should be hanging out with her friends on the track team or partying with her roommate at an all-ages club. I'm afraid if she spends one more weekend playing Monopoly and having Harry Potter movie marathons, she'll resent me. And more than the guilt and fear, I feel an overwhelming sense of shame. No twenty-one-year-old wants to be babysat by their little sister.

"Don't be ridiculous, Rory." Mom scoffs at me over her glass of vitamin C. "I'm not leaving you unsupervised."

A sigh escapes my lips and I turn toward the window. There's a breathtaking view of Central Park from my spot in the living room. Sometimes I like to pretend I've been whisked away to another land, and that the stretch of greenery below is an enchanted forest.

I suppose that makes this apartment my tower prison.


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