Wilhelmina Winters, Sixty-Four

Here we are again, Wil mouthed to her friend. The pale, dark-haired girl in the waiting room window spoke the same words, without sound. Wil shifted on the floor. Crinkling paper noises from her left fist warned her to be careful in her movements; she glanced at them and remembered.

Returning to her friend, she whispered, “I’m adopted.” Her friend frowned and furrowed her brow in confusion.

How is that possible? she replied.

They shrugged.

Wil extracted the birth certificate and read through its official type once more. A few, lingering last-hopes evaporated from her imagination as she found each line filled out with correct name, date, father, location, and features. “I was a small baby,” she said.

They nodded, seriously.

“Of course you were, Minnie Mouse,” Jakob called, from his slouched recline a few feet away. He moved deeper into his chair and adjusted his feet on the table.

Wil and her friend shared a look. What did he know?

“You were a preemie.”

They blinked. Wil turned away from the window wall. “A what?

“Preemie, dummy.” He rubbed his back inside his slouch. “Means you were early. Rob told me.” Closing his eyes, he tilted his head against the chair back. “Said you were lucky to be born and that he didn’t even know.”

She shared a stupefied look with her friend. Thinking over this new information, she asked, “How did he know?”

“‘Bout you?”

Wil nodded. “Yeah.”

Jakob groaned and tried to crouch into a side-lay within the small seat. From a yawn, he answered, “Not sure.”

A few more seconds told Wil her brother -her stepbrother- was unlikely to tell her more. The conversation had already run longer than any of his had in the last five years. She was about to resume the more satisfying exchange at the dark glass before her when Jakob stirred enough to add, “Ask Rob.”

Her friend tilted her head, considering. Not a bad idea, she told Wil.

They were all interrupted by a click, a creak, and a cheery, “Well, here we are!” Nurse Bea entered the waiting room, and then turned to hold the door for Rob. Just behind him came Cynthia.

Jakob stopped pretending to sleep and Wil waved goodbye to the window. Both rose and walked to their favorite mother.

“They’re releasing you?!” Wil asked. Jakob snickered and put his hands in his coat pockets.

Nurse Bea laughed outright. As expected, hers was the sort that came from deep in her stomach and affected her entire body upon its release. A moment of breathlessness later and she wiped her eyes. “That’s right, darlin’.” She smiled, though she already had been, and wagged a stern finger to Wil. “Now, you jus’ make sure you take care o’ your mom. She’s an angel.”

Wil’s pleasant return smile slipped off her face.

“Thanks, Nurse Bea,” Cynthia enthused; her smile radiating as usual. Supported by Rob and trailed by her anxious children, she walked out the waiting room doors.

If Wil had not been so preoccupied, she’d have caught the sparkling tear on the cheek of Nurse Bea.

 

Continued from Sixty-Three.
Keep reading to Sixty-Five.

Wilhelmina Winters, Fifty-Three

Wil instinctively moved forward and took the envelope from her father.  She turned it over, staring at the cursive on its front without comprehension. She looked up at her parents, and felt some alarm at their anxious expressions. She looked back down at her hand, reading her full name and previous address in its black ink.

Glancing one last time at the nervous couch occupants, Wil flipped the envelope over and carefully withdrew the contents: an official-feeling paper in trifold, and a softer group of notebook pages in creative fold.

Wil spread open the stiff page first, and skimmed it. Her brows creased together as she read, then raised in surprise. She sat down on the floor, and was lucky she didn’t miss.

The page was a darkly-copied birth certificate for Wilhelmina Winters. She had Wil’s birthday. She had Wil’s father. She was born in a hospital thirteen years previously. She was delivered by a Doctor Tolman. This Wilhelmina’s mother, however, was listed as Guinevere Greene.

The information seeped slowly into Wil’s brain, passing barriers of familiarity, trust, disbelief, consideration, then realization.

“What?!” Wil shouted. She stood again, and moved a step forward. Surprise and confusion were quickly followed by distrust, and she stopped. Looking up at her father, whose expression tightened, Wil confirmed her initial conclusions.

“Wil, honey,” Cynthia began. Wil turned blankly to her. “Please, come here.” She held out her arms to Wil, the IV tube dragging behind her. The pathetic image pulled at Wil’s heart.

Wil hesitated as her feelings churned. Her insides were an emotional soup, and someone kept raising ladles of different strains every few seconds. But her mother -the woman she thought of as mother- had only ever been loving and kind. The woman she knew as mother looked at her with such tender, searching, tear-bright eyes.

Tears formed in Wil’s own eyes. She rushed forward and accepted Cynthia’s embrace. She immediately burst into tears. Cynthia mother rocked slightly, smoothing Wil’s hair and crying gently.

Loud sniffling and soft crying echoed against a beeping IV machine in the small living room of Unit 2, Building 4. Wil and Cynthia held each other forever, as her father uncomfortably watched. Sighing, he rubbed the side of his face.

And waited.

 

Continued from Fifty-Two.
Keep reading to Fifty-Four.