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The next day, after consulting a doctor and sleeping a choppy yet invigorating fourteen hours, I wake up feeling a lot better, my symptoms somewhat milder. I have enough energy to sit up without feeling faint, but the dull soreness in the back of my throat is just as bothersome.

I climb back in bed after a quick lunch and chug the rest of my water bottle, momentarily easing the pain. My phone rings as I finally get into a comfortable position on my side, and I groan. I stick my arm out without looking and fish for the device somewhere on my side table, almost knocking over the lamp in the process.

I hold the screen up to my face and do a double take. Dad?

I click the green button.

"Hi, Whit, how are you doing?"

I sit up straighter in my bed and hug a pillow, pressing the phone to my ear. "I'm okay, Dad. How are you?"

I hear a shuffle and then a brief exchange of words. His voice comes closer to the speaker. "I'm good—wait, you sound different. Are you sick?"

"Yes, sadly. I've come down with one of those awful summer colds. How convenient, right?"

"Oh no, I hope you feel better soon, honey. Have they let you take a day off, at least?" I hold back a chuckle. The concept is unheard of in his world, where work always goes above all, even your health. And family.

"Yeah, of course. You actually caught me right before I was going to take a nap." I glance at the clock on the wall, reading a couple minutes past two.

"Would you like me to hang up? I want you to rest up as much as possible."

"No." The word almost comes out in a yell, because there's nothing more I want than to finally have a real conversation with him. "I mean, I-I've already slept a lot. Distract me—what's going on in your life?"

"Well, I'm currently packing for Chicago. I'll be there on business for a few days. Then your mom and I want to take a trip somewhere for the weekend. God, I don't even remember the last time just the two of us went somewhere exciting, but then again, your mom isn't one for adventure."

"Oh, well, I hope you guys have fun," I say, but I doubt they'll end up going anywhere. "So, Chicago, huh? Are you looking forward to going, or is it just work as usual?"

He sighs. "No, I probably won't see much more than the inside of a hotel and a couple of air-conditioned conference rooms." His voice fades again, but when I hold the phone closer to my ear, I realize he's just talking to my mom. "Wait, isn't Chicago the city you've always wanted to visit? Or am I off?"

"Way off," I laugh and correct, "it's actually San Diego." The two couldn't be more unalike, but I guess the thought was what counted.

"Consider a trip there already yours," he says. My eyes widen, but I shouldn't be surprised. When it comes to things that cost money, he never disappoints. "How have you been holding up with all that exercise? Your mom tells me it's a lot more than you thought."

I laugh. "Working out now isn't nearly as bad now as it was in the beginning. I'm kind of liking it, to be honest."

"Ah, that's great. I always knew you had it in you, just like Poppy."

I freeze in place, hearing my least favorite words: just like Poppy. I bite the inside of my cheek to prevent a snappy reply, knowing he didn't mean it like that. But that's just this time.

"Hey, Dad, tell Mom I say hi, okay? I think I'm going to actually take that nap."

He sighs. "Alright, sweetheart, hope you sleep well."

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