My bare feet patter soundlessly against the carpet as I abandon my books for a snack. But as I reach the stairs, the voices of my parents reach my ears, and I duck down below the top of the half-wall that serves as a railing. I peek over the top of it a second later to see concerned expressions on their faces, as well as a stack of papers on the kitchen table. I only catch a snippet of their conversation: “… yes, Madison has it too, but hers is more mild.”
My what? My appetite has disappeared, replaced by a knot in my stomach. I scamper back up the stairs to my room, those few words turning themselves over in my mind. Mild — they don’t teach that word in kindergarten, and I have no idea what it means. And who else are they talking about?
The ropes connecting me to my mother begin to unravel.