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Falling by Elisha Cooper

But these are not things I say to anyone. Dr. Lee tells us that the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted her and would like to give Zoë a wish. So we throw around ideas: fly back to Chicago, see Zoë’s old friends, see a show, maybe go to Wrigley Field and see the Cubs. We are touched and humbled by Make-A-Wish’s generosity. Everyone in the room is smiling, and we walk out of the hospital into a beautiful spring day.
I have a book coming out this spring. I wrote it last year, before everything. It is irrelevant to me now. It’s about eight students in a Chicago high school whom I fol-lowed through a year of adolescent drama and breakups and college applications. It has a dumb title. 
I do all the normal things I do when I publish a book, but my heart’s not in it. I fly to Chicago for a book festival, book signings, bookstore visits. With my obligations done I go for punishing runs along Lake Michigan that leave my right ankle throbbing. I cool off in the lake. 
Elise and the girls fly out and join me. Make-A-Wish puts us up in a fancy hotel downtown. In the evening a limo carries us to the theater where we see Wicked. The orchestra swells and Zoë and Mia perch spellbound at the edge of their seats. The next day we take the L up to Wrigley Field and sit behind home plate. Make-A-Wish has thought of everything. 
At night we have dinner with our Chicago friends—it’s the first time we have all been together since we left last summer—and everyone is so happy to see one another. Everyone says how great Zoë looks. They ask how we are doing and we say we are fine. We are fine! Elise holds hands with the mothers and I give bear hugs to the fathers. I have the suspicion though that I am smiling more than usual. And I feel that same detachment I had when I was last in the hospital, more attuned to a small heartbeat of fear growing inside me: here, not here, here, not here.
Excerpted from Falling by Elisha Cooper. Copyright © 2016 by Elisha Cooper. Excerpted by permission of Pantheon Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Jun 17, 2016

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