Chapter Twenty-Four

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When we get upstairs, I see what the nurse meant about the blue line; there are three stripes painted along the wall, one blue, one green, and one red, and as we walk down the hallway, the colors occasionally veer off at corners. I guess that's an easy enough way to give directions in a hospital, and my pulse picks up as we round the corner and the blue line ends at a large waiting area.

"There," Christina says, pointing to Dad's imposing frame. He's standing near a magazine rack, staring at the titles as if he can't see them, and we hurry to him. Christina slips an arm around him and he starts, looking at both of us in surprise.

"What are you girls doing here?"

"We got your text. How is...where is Mom?" Christina clears her throat.

Dad looks down at her, and then his gaze shifts to me. "There's nothing to worry about."

My throat tightens. "The guy downstairs said she was in surgery. What happened?"

Just then, a doctor in a crisp white coat comes around the corner, and when Dad spots him, he hurries to meet the man. Christina and I exchange a quick look before we follow him.

The doctor is smiling as he shakes Dad's hand. "She's out of surgery, and the prognosis looks good. With proper recovery time, I have no reason to think her sight will be permanently impaired."

"Her sight?" I blurt out, not understanding. The doctor looks at me, and then glances back at Dad before answering.

"Your mother has been experiencing symptoms of severe retinal detachment, but the surgery she underwent today has a ninety-five percent success rate, so I'm optimistic."

I look at Christina, and my shoulders sag in relief. "So it's not serious?"

"Oh, on the contrary, if we had let it go much longer without surgery, it could have been very serious. Without treatment, blindness is often the result of retinal detachment like your mother was experiencing. But," he adds cheerfully, "I believe we caught it in time."

Blindness? I stare at him, processing his words. Could Mom still scribe if she was blind? I swallow, trying to draw my thoughts away from what ifs and back to the present. "Can we see her?"

He glances at Dad, who nods, and the doctor smiles again. "Of course. I'll take you back there."

I'm bursting with questions I don't want to ask in front of the doctor, but to my surprise, Christina doesn't seem to have any hesitations. "How long have you guys known about this?" She asks Dad, keeping her voice low.

He shrugs, but he doesn't look at her. "Your mother didn't want to worry you girls. She's been consulting with a specialist to try to figure out what was going on with her vision for a month."

"And she...she won't have any problems now?" I venture, my thoughts still swirling.

Dad nods. "That's what the doctor said." He drops his voice so low I have to strain to hear. "Although I doubt she'll be up to scribing any time soon." He looks apologetically at me. "You're on your own for your Threes."

I shake my head automatically. "Shelby's going to help me," I say, feigning confidence I don't even come close to feeling. "Right?"

Christina looks at me, and we have a silent conversation; if Mom's recovering from eye surgery, there's no way we can ask her to help us before the exam. After a moment, she nods slightly. "Right."

Dad glances at the two of us skeptically, but then he smiles. "I'm glad you girls are pulling together for a change."

Christina rolls her eyes, but before either of us can retort, the doctor stops and gestures to a door. "I'll give you a few minutes alone to talk. I'm sure Elena will be happy to see you."

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