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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 736

Ann Weiss is not pleased with the baker from whom she orders her son Scotty’s eighth birthday cake. Though the baker is of an age to have children, and even grandchildren, he takes no interest in her son’s birthday and seems to have no time for small talk. The transaction is direct and impersonal, and Ann leaves the bakery vaguely disgruntled by the man’s coldness.

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Two days later, on his birthday, Scotty and a friend are walking to school when Scotty is hit by a car and knocked to the pavement. The driver of the car stops, but drives on when Scotty gets up, shaken but apparently unharmed. Scotty returns home, lies down on the sofa, and loses consciousness. Alarmed because she cannot rouse him, Ann telephones her husband, Howard, who telephones an ambulance.

At the hospital, Howard and Ann are assured by their physician, Dr. Francis, that nothing serious seems to be wrong with Scotty. He is only in a deep sleep, not in a coma, and will soon awaken. That evening, while they await tests results, Howard goes home to bathe and change clothes. After he has reached the house, the phone rings, and the caller tells Howard that he has an unclaimed birthday cake. Impatient and confused, Howard denies any knowledge of a cake and hangs up, only to be disturbed by a second call a few minutes later. This time, the caller says nothing, then hangs up.

Back at the hospital, Howard discovers that Scotty, still unconscious, is being fed intravenously. Ann is anxious about his not waking up. Howard suggests that Ann go home for a while and tells her about the phone calls, but she refuses to leave Scotty. When Dr. Francis comes in on late-night rounds, Howard and Ann demand to know why Scotty has not yet awakened. The doctor assures them that Scotty is suffering from a hairline fracture of the skull and a mild concussion, but that he seems to be out of any real danger and should soon wake up. He is merely asleep, not in a coma. Later that night, another doctor, a radiologist, comes into the room and announces that a brain scan will be performed on Scotty. The increasingly anxious parents accompany their son downstairs to radiology and return with him to his room at dawn.

Scotty does not awaken the next day, despite Dr. Francis’s assurances that he will do so. The exhausted Howard and Ann maintain their vigil in the hospital room. When Dr. Francis makes his second visit of the day, he expresses his bewilderment that Scotty has not awakened and this time calls the condition a coma. After the doctor leaves, Howard convinces Ann to go home to rest and feed the dog. No sooner has she arrived home, however, than the phone rings; the caller mentions Scotty’s name...

(The entire section contains 736 words.)

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