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As always, with just the family around her, Maddie has no trouble talking. I know what she’s trying to do now by talking about the puppies. She’s acting like the whole thing—getting left behind, going silent—was no big deal. She doesn’t want Mom saying she can’t go to the mall with me again.

When we get home, I’m relieved to see that this conversation about how I lost Maddie is going to have to be put on hold: we’ve got company. Flynn’s red truck is in the driveway. Flynn is the engineer who’s working with my mother on the new cell phone, the one with a battery that will last for years. Mom and Flynn have put in a lot of hours together at the lab so they’re pretty close friends. I know Flynn, too, because he’s been over for Sunday dinner a few times. He’s smart and funny, the kind of guy who will wear vintage cowboy boots and wide-brim cowboy hats even though he grew up in New York City and doesn’t know where milk comes from. One time Flynn had a great idea about the battery while they were talking after dinner, and he got so excited he jumped right up on the table—with his boots on—and stuck his hands up in the air like he was at the top of Mt. Everest. Now whenever he comes over, Mom makes him leave his boots at the door.