Contributor: Anna Philpot

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Lorraine watched her daughter’s hiking boots inch further over the cliff’s edge.

Cass turned, pushing her thick, dark hair, polished mahogany, from her cheek. She sipped from her water bottle, then hurled it into the ravine. Pebbles spit down the rock face and Cass’s feet slid forward.

Lorraine yelped as her hand snaked around her daughter’s arm, pulling her back.

“I’m done,” Cass whispered.

“You couldn’t know you and Jeremy both carried the gene. The chances are one in over 1,600 for crying out loud! Cassie, you’re a scientist. You understand probability.”

Lorraine shook her daughter until Cass’s head snapped back and Lorraine looked into her daughter’s tear-glaze eyes.

“ Jeremy was going to leave,” Cass said, eyes flashing defiantly. “Leave me to deal with Angela’s dying. He told me so. But she died that day. He had to watch her die, too, knowing we did that to her. Cass’s voice drifted off, just as her eyes slid back to the precipice.

“Cassie, I’m here. We can make it through.”

“I don’t know how anymore,” Cass murmured, shoving her wet hair from her face, wiping her dripping nose on the thick fleece sleeve. “I think about what she’d be able to do now. Walking, talking. We didn’t get to any of it.”

Cass rested her head on her mother’s shoulder and wept.

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Anna Philpot is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in American Way, Celebrated Living, Parenting and Virtuoso Life magazines. She prefers writing fiction while sitting at her kitchen table, her huge dog snoring at her feet.
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