Lissa was very sick. She’d had to stay in bed a long, long time. “Will I get better soon?” she asked her mom.
“I hope so,” her mom said.
“Is Angela going to come visit me again?” Lissa asked.
“I don’t know dear. I can call her mother and ask.”
“Don’t. If she doesn’t want to visit me, then it would just be awkward,” Lissa said.
“If she comes, it’ll be because she wants to. I’ll just invite her over. Like a playdate,” her mom said.
“I guess so,” Lissa said. “Okay, you can call.”
The next day, Angela came to visit. “Hi, Lissa,” she said. “How’ve you been?”
“About the same,” Lissa said. “How’s school?”
“Jill moved over the summer. So I sit with Marcie at lunch now. We miss you. Maybe next time I come, I can bring her too,” Angela said.
“That would be nice,” Lissa said. “I like Marcie.”
They talked about books and teachers and the new jump rope game everyone was playing at recess. Then Angela picked up the bag that had been sitting at her feet. “Oh, I forgot. I got you something.”
“You didn’t have to get me anything,” Lissa said.
“Don’t be silly. I wanted to. Now open it,” Angela said.
Lissa opened the bag and pulled out a book and a pack of brightly colored paper. “Origami?” Lissa asked, reading the cover of the book.
“I heard somewhere that if you fold a thousand paper cranes you get a wish,” Angela said.
“I could just wait to blow out my birthday candles, it would be quicker,” Lissa said.
“But what if this works,” Angela said. “It’s worth a try. I want you to get better, Lissa.”
“Me too,” Lissa said. “I’ll try it. Why not?”
“I’ll bring you more paper next time I visit,” Angela said.
“With Marcie?” Lissa asked.
“Of course,” Angela said.
It was a while until Angela’s next visit, but Lissa kept folding cranes. Her mother bought her many packs of colorful paper. Soon the cranes covered tables and chairs and filled drawers. At first, it took a while to fold them and they had funny lopsided beaks and wings.
But as she got better, they looked sharper and more uniform. Some were big, folded out of notebook paper or pages from her dad’s newspaper that had been cut into square shapes. Others were tiny, folded from candy wrappers or post-it notes. Of course, there were lots and lots folded from little squares of colorful paper.
Lissa started to feel worse and she was slow and clumsy again as she folded. Her mind sometimes wandered when Angela and Marcie visited, and she didn’t remember all the people that they were telling her about. She kept folding the paper cranes. As she did, she imagined what she would wish for when she was done. It was enough to keep her going.
And then one day, sore and tired and sick, Lissa folded her last one. As she dropped it onto her blanket, it grew larger and softer. It became a crane that perched at the end of her hospital bed and looked at her. All around the room, paper cranes were transforming.
One by one, a thousand cranes flew out of the window of her hospital room, until all that was left was the last one perched on the end of her bed. It nodded at her and opened its wings and flew out the window. Lissa sat up. She didn’t feel tired or sick anymore. Wings sprouted from her back, but they didn’t hurt.
Somehow, she already knew how to fly. She flew up, out of bed, and followed the cranes out the window.