Her mother told her to come inside, telling her they needed to talk, and to leave Ian outside. The way she said his name never left Ava's brain; it was like she was telling her to leave a toy out after it rained, that there was no use for it anymore.

She watched Ian through the door as she walked backward, into the kitchen table. Her brother groaned about how she made him spill his tea, but other than that no one in the house noticed her actions.

“Ava.” Her tone was soft. “Come into the living room me for a moment, please.”

The couch protested as her mother sat down. Ava hovered by the TV and fiddled with the remote control before anyone spoke again.

“You’re sick,” was all she said.

Ava stared at her. “No, I’m not. I feel fine, I told you. What are you doing? I have to get back outside to Ian.”

Ava's mother ran a hand through her hair and sighed. “This isn’t how I wanted to do this. I didn’t think you’d show early signs. The doctor said we had more time. Dammit.”

One of the tea cups she kept on the side table was tossed, and it hit the carpet and bounced. Neither of them picked it up. No one moved. She was crying on the couch and Ava was staring at the cup, the remote still in her hand.

She had never seen her mother throw anything before.

“What are you talking about?” she asked in a small voice. “Mom, what’s wrong?”

“Ava, baby, you’re sick. I’m sorry. We don’t have another choice. We have to go to the doctor. He’ll help you.”

Ava turned to leave the room, to go back outside, when she saw Ian. He was standing in the kitchen next to her brother, leaning over him as he read.

“Hey!” she shouted.

Jake looked up, surprised. “What do you want, Ava?”

She blinked at him. “I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to Ian.”

“Who’s Ian?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. He looked around, frowning. “Is he a pet bug or something?”

“Mom!” Ava shrieked. “Jake’s being an ass. Ian is right there, tell him!”

But the look on her mother’s face had her worried, and when she picked up the phone and spoke to the doctor, Ava knew she was serious about everything.

Something really was wrong with her.

The End

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