AC: Chapter 2

As the days dragged on into weeks, Mary’s parents began to worry. She was still unconscious, and her stubborn fever would not break. No matter how many cold cloths Sarah placed on her daughter’s forehead, Mary still burned up like a wildfire. Numerous doctors examined her, but they couldn’t find anything wrong. The family was forced to consider funeral arrangements. But Sarah and Steven would not give up hope. They sat at her beside every day, their prayers never ceasing.

Meanwhile, Cynthia had locked herself in her room, punishing herself for Mary’s situation. She would not eat, drink, or talk to anyone. Her parents eventually convinced her to move into Mary’s room so they could keep an eye on her. They had to feed her to keep her alive. She was still alive, but guilt was eating Cynthia up and internally driving her mad. She kept a blank face so she would not scare her parents more.

With two children deteriorating, the Brandons were at the end of their rope. Still, they never lost their hope or faith. On the fourteenth day after the nightmarish walk home from school, Mary’s condition changed. There was sweat on her brow, which was a sign of the fever breaking. Five minutes after the fever broke, her eye lids fluttered.

Steven noticed this subtle change first. He caught Sarah’s attention and she looked at Mary just in time to see it.

“Mary,” she said as her heart swelled with hope, “If you can hear me, I want you to squeeze my hand.”

Mary squeezed her mother’s hand and let out a low groan.

Cynthia’s head snapped up at the sound.

“Cynthia, go call the doctor!” her mother cried.

Half an hour later, Dr. Paul Radwick arrived at the Brandon’s house. A short, wrinkled, and balding man, Cynthia escorted him up the stairs to Mary’s room. The doctor sat down on a stool at the foot of Mary’s bed.

“How is she?” the doctor asked.

“Her fever broke and her eyes fluttered,” Steven answered. Sarah was too stunned to speak.

“Well, I’ll listen to her heart,” the doctor said matter-of-factly.

Mary was able to feel the ice cold of the stethoscope; it gave her goosebumps. And then her eyes sprang open.

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