A son attempts to get an unpublished manuscript of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle for his dying mother, an avid science fiction and fantasy reader:

“Mom is completely nonplussed. I am a little hurt, but then I realize I haven’t seen Mom once the past several weeks with her hands on a paperback or her Kindle.

“I decide that if things come through with the Paolini book—and I spend a lot of time thinking about this, more time than I probably should, because it’s an easy and hopeful thing to think about—I will read it to her myself. Out loud, while she lies in bed too weak to hold the pages up in her hands. When my grandfather was dying of pancreatic cancer, my aunt rubbed lotion into the cracked skin on his feet. She guided a straw from a glass of ice water to his lips. I imagine my reading to Mom will be just like performing these tasks, only different.”