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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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July 2, 2008

It's half an hour before they're going to head to the hospital. The anxiety mounts from the moment Kimberly's hand touches the telephone. She's not sure how to do this, what to say. She's made a mistake by saying she wants to handle it herself.

The numbers are easy. It's funny how simple it is to remember a telephone number, even after a month without so much as seeing a phone. Her fingers still recall exactly how to dial. She glances around, sees her grandparents watching, waiting. They'll have a lot to say, too. She takes a deep breath. Once again, there's no telling what the reaction will be, no matter what her grandparents have told her.

She holds the phone to her ear, listens to the ringing. The space between rings seems interminably long. She counts them. Four. That means it's going to the answering machine after the next one.

The fifth ring truncates halfway through, and a woman's voice—groggy and confused and a little too flat—says, "Hello?"

For a moment, Kimberly freezes, unable to think. Her breathing speeds up. The world seems smaller, closer. The temperature in the room seems to have risen.

"Hello?" the woman says again.

"Hey, mom," Kimberly says. Then she has to hand the phone to her grandmother for a while, because she can't stop shaking and she can't figure out what to say.
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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