“Oh, for Christ’s—” Shar looked into Jemma’s eyes. “Girl, that’s your
heartache. That’s what a broken heart feels like. Is this about that idiot
Jonathan, or your stepdad?”
Jemma rubbed her forehead. “I don’t know. I don’t know what it’s
“Maybe we should send you to talk to someone. Get your head
“My head is not the problem.” Jemma clenched her jaw, then softened
it when she met Shar’s eyes. “I really think I need more sleep than most
“But you were fine before. You were fine when you were little.” Shar
shook out and folded a pair of jeans and a T-shirt that were about to fall
off the edge of the bed. “Have you eaten anything today?”
Jemma shook her head. She was pale except for her acne, which Shar
now realized had worsened recently, and she had that flat look in her
eyes like before she got on the medication.
“I’m going to make you something while you get dressed. Steak and
potatoes. Part of your problem is you don’t eat any real food.”
Licking her dry lips, Jemma nodded. “That sounds nice.”
Anemia, Shar thought as she defrosted a flank steak in the microwave.
Bells rang in her ears. She sat next to Jemma while she ate and looked
in her home health care book, highlighting passages that matched her
Dr. Reed smiled stiffly and said, “Well, look at Doctor Mom.” He ordered tests for anemia, along with some other standard blood tests and
a leukemia test, just to be safe, and said that while they waited for the
results, she should feed the girl liver, spinach, and a good multivitamin.
If the anemia was confirmed, they’d put her on an iron supplement and
she’d be in tip-top shape. Even Jemma smiled with relief. She grabbed
her mom’s hand on the way out and swung it as they walked in the sun.
Shar smiled back and gave it a squeeze.
But it wasn’t anemia. Or leukemia, or anything else they could find.
Her blood work came back normal. Tip-top. Healthier than average.
The doctor said to keep having her take her multivitamin and eat well.
Though she was skinny, she wasn’t actually underweight, and he didn’t
suspect an eating disorder, but he did recommend a quality protein
shake that could pack on the calories in a simple and flavorful way.
“I’ve got a daughter of my own,” he said. “She recently went vegetarian.” He rolled his eyes. “They’ll do anything for their figures.”