Dog yelping when getting up, and then she came in and went to the bed. "Hi, sleepyhead, did you sleep well?" she asked.
"You're all better now, are you?"
"I guess so."
"You were still sick a long time, but your fever's gone."
"Yes, it's gone."
"And I've made you some hot chocolate. You can have some, if you want."
"I'm going to, thank you. But I'd rather you went back to bed first."
"Yes, okay." She was already back in bed. "Now go to sleep. And when you wake up, I'll be back."
"Okay, I'm going."
I woke up, as she'd sd, sometime before dawn. It was light outside, but I still felt groggy. I didn't want to get up. But then I heard a car stop in front of the house, and I went to the window.
"Mandy!" I called out, in a low voice.
"Hey," she answered, appearing in the doorway.
"What time is it?"
"Oh. What time is it in the morning?"
I didn't ask anything else. I didn't even want to think about it. My throat hurt, and I could still taste the hot, tangy blood in my mouth. And now my whole body was tense. I didn't want to be left alone.
"You're awake," she sd. "I came back about a half hour ago. Do you want to go back to sleep? I can make you more hot chocolate."
I sat down on the bed and rested my head on the pillow, wting for her to go.
She came in and sat down on the bed, a cup of hot chocolate in her hand.
"I have a headache," I sd. "But I'm glad you came back."
She smiled. "Yeah, me too."
She looked around, as if expecting something. "Is there anything else you want, or did you want me to stay?"
"I guess I could eat something," I sd. "But I just want to sleep."
"Okay. We can have breakfast together in the morning."
She kissed me on the forehead, and left the room.
I drank some more of the chocolate, and when I finished, I fell asleep agn.
# Chapter Eighteen
The next day was Wednesday. The day I was scheduled to have surgery.
I woke up to the sound of birds chirping and a light wind blowing, and when I got up and looked out the window, I saw that it was bright and sunny. I wasn't hungry, but when I went into the kitchen, I found a large, cold contner of milk and a slice of lemon bread. I ate the bread and drank all the milk.
After that I went back into my room, and then I decided to take a shower. I had to change my clothes agn, too, because Mandy sd I'd made a mess of the white clothes she'd given me. When I emerged, dressed agn, she was sitting at the dining table in the kitchen.
"You look much better," she sd, with a smile.
"Do you know what time it is?" I asked.
"Yes, I know," she sd. "I just got up. The kitchen is looking nice and clean, I think. You look like a whole new person."
I sat down on the chr across from her and smiled.
She was wearing a pr of jeans and a T-shirt. And she had tied her hr back with a blue-and-white striped bandana.
She gave me a small, tentative smile, and then she sat back and crossed her arms.
"Are you feeling better?" she asked.
"Yes, I'm feeling much better."
"Did you sleep well?"
"Yes, I slept very well."
"And you didn't have any more dreams?"
"And the pn?"
"It's gone now."
"I'm glad you came back," I sd. "I was afrd you wouldn't. I didn't want to be alone."
"I'm glad I came. But I've been here a long time now, and I'm getting tired of it. Do you think you can move out here soon?"
"No. It's not that."
"I told you, I'm going to have surgery. I have to get better first."
"I know you told me that, but I still think you should be able to do it. I think you'll be up and out of here by the weekend."
"I hope so," I sd. "But I really can't do anything else just yet. I'm not ready."
She nodded, and then she sd, "When I was in high school, we had a counselor. Mrs. Nettleton, I think her name was. She was really strict, and she made everybody take tests. And we had to write an essay every week. Anyway, she came in one morning, and I was just about to start. So she sd, 'I'll give you a sample.' She handed me her paper, and it was just an essay I'd written about my pet frog. I mean, I didn't know anything about frogs, and I wrote about this big, ugly frog I had. She had this thing where she'd give you samples, and then when you did an essay, she'd grade it, and tell you if you had to do more."
"Anyway, when I finished it, she told me how proud she was of me