One reason Rob had chosen their current apartment was its proximity to Cynthia’s medical clinic. Unfortunately, Wil reflected as she watched cars, stores, and traffic lights move through her dim reflection in the car window, the clinic was not where they needed to go for emergencies. Also, that health facility was closed, as most seemed to be, on Fridays. She had often wondered if the doctors all thought no one got sick at the end of the week.
She turned to watch shadowed pieces of sunset play over her parents’ faces in the front seat. Her father sat tensely, his thick fingers turning ever whiter in their grip on the steering wheel. His eyes bored through the windshield, willing them at the hospital already.
Her mother –Yes, my mother, Wil told herself. –Wait! Where did those papers go?– sat in her relaxation pose. Cynthia’s head lay back, her blonde hairs dusting the headrest. Her eyes were closed. Her breathing was carefully shallow.
Rob’s cell phone chimed. Wil jumped, then realized it was just a notification. “Mina. Please.” Her father’s request, as usual, was a succinct command. Forgetting her train of thought, she leaned forward and took the phone from the console.
Putting in the simple code of one horizontal line to unlock the screen, Wil saw that Jakob had texted back. She cleared her throat and said, “It’s Jakob. He says, ‘Class almost out. Can get ride to hospital with Jen.'” She looked up, curious. “Who’s Jen?”
Cynthia laughed, which brought on another coughing fit. Wil looked distraught, a feeling made worse by the stern look her father wore when she caught his face in the rearview mirror.
They were nearly to the hospital when Cynthia caught her breath. As Rob carefully navigated into the parking garage, she turned her head to look at Wil. “I love you, Wil,” she said sweetly. “Always curious.” Wil did not look reassured, which almost set Cynthia going again. She swallowed a few times, allowed herself a smile, and said, “Don’t worry, Honey. I don’t know who Jen is, either. It’s probably just a girl in the same class who has a car.”
They pulled into a spot, and Rob put the car into park. Securing it with the parking brake, he turned and pulled his cell phone from Wil’s hand. “Let’s go,” Rob said, ever tactful and patient.
Cynthia smiled up at him, loosening his features into his version of the expression.
Wil hastily unbuckled. She pushed the car door open, hitting the cement wall they were parked by. Rob sighed. Cynthia had to suppress another laughing fit. Wil looked around, expecting Jakob to say, “I hope Wil marries a car detailer,” as he always did when she dented their car. She remembered that he wasn’t there, and instead looked apologetically up at her father.
“Nevermind, Wil,” he said, tiredly. “Just get out and close it. If you can.”
Leaving their sedan with all its scratched doors locked and secured, the Winters walked out of the garage and to the doors of City Hospital.