The minivan arrived home to its oil-stained parking stall, despite the daily effort its owner made to prevent that. Various teenagers piled out gratefully. Wil stood for a minute after exiting, distractedly watching her neighbor’s backside following the rest of Mrs. Crandall’s ample body.
Reagan waved a bit at Wil, then headed to the street corner after Jorge. They lived in a townhouse cluster a block away. The movement thankfully broke Wil’s concentration, and she turned and rushed to her own building.
“Mom?!” She asked anxiously, the instant she pushed into their apartment after unlocking it. She shut the door, locked it, dropped her backpack, and headed to the couch.
“Hi, Wil,” her mother said sleepily. She looked up at Wil. Her mouth spoke the simple greeting; but Cynthia’s blue eyes spoke of love, happiness, long-suffering, and exhaustion. Wil remembered that her mother was often tired after not sleeping at the hospital.
Cynthia stretched carefully, yawning. The IV tube was drawn across the couch and back as it trailed behind her stretching arm. “I’m sorry, Wil.” Her eyes now added apologetic to their lexicon. “I kept my appointment for CPT today. It may have been a bit too much.”
“It’s okay, Mom.” Wil sat down by the couch on her knees and looked happily into her mother’s drained face. “I just wanted to see you, but I can let you rest.”
Cynthia yawned again, and coughed a bit. “No, Sweetheart. I’ve been waiting all day to hear you tell me about your day.” She smiled.
Wil waited an entire moment before eagerly bursting. “Yesterday, I got a secret note!”
Her mother’s eyebrows rose and she gasped in excitement. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, this brought on a coughing fit. Wil bit her lip and watched her mother with concern till it subsided.
“How neat,” Cynthia said faintly. She cleared her throat gently and said, more strongly, “What kind of note? From who?”
Trying not to startle her mother again, Wil told her about finding and solving each note. She excitedly described being a spy and a fighter pilot, but left off the part about falling asleep in class.
“And then, there was no one at the library. But, I was looking around, and a boy walked up and gave me this last note. He said his name was Derek.” She pulled the crumpled paper from her pocket and held it within her mother’s gaze.
Although Wil’s exuberance made her a hard-to-follow story-teller, Cynthia was a very appreciative audience. She loved Wil completely, and encouraged imaginative details.
“Do you want to show me the final message, or figure it out on your own?” She asked.
“Oh.” Wil said. She thought about it, then smiled. “I think it’s okay for you to help me,” she acquiesced.
She spread it on her legs to get the wrinkles out. Then, she brought over the nearby TV stand and laid the page out so they could both look at it.
Cynthia leaned over the note, her face next to Wil’s, mirroring her anxious curiosity.