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We do the same routine for nearly the thousandth time. Mom’s old van groans to a stop, popping along the parking lot, as we pull up to Dr. Ferrick’s Therapy and Counseling for Juveniles. She pops open the door unbuckling her seatbelt with one clean click. She then swings my door wide open shaking the car beneath my feet like an earthquake in San Francisco, and grabs my white cane and backpack. Slowly and carefully she helps me out of the car one step at a time.
The warmth of the sun beams on my face as I clasp my hand around the cool metal handle of my cane. A cool breeze making my soft hair ride the wind as I place my feet fall on the asphalt, My chucks crunch against the fallen leaves, the cold air pecking at my cheek.
“Maya, sweetie, are you sure you know your way around enough to walk without my help?” Mom questions, placing her hand on my shoulder.
“I’m good, Mom. We’ve been here so many times I know where everything is,” I claim, tapping my white cane on the ground.
“But aren’t you afraid of running into something?”
“Mom,” I sigh, “I’m blind, not helpless.”
“Hmmm? What did you say?”
“Nevermind, it was nothing,” I remark, quietly groaning.
“I’ll be right next to you if you need anything,” she says. I reach the door, outstretching my hand searching for the handle, but Mom quickly swings the door open. I pivot making what feels like a 360 degree turn, I wobble and lose my balance, I collapse on what feels like mulch.
“Sorry honey, you ok? It looked like you needed help,”
“I’m fabulous, just perfect, and I had it Mom,” I breathe. I feel a hand reach down to help me, its body heat jetting out like a sauna. I shake my head, and get back on my feet, brushing dirt off of my rear.
The too well-known frigid air and sterile smell wafts in my direction as Mom and I make our way through the sea of chairs to the front desk. The ac grunts and shudders with age, more than it used to, puffing out clouds of air in my face.
“Hello again, Dorothy, we have an appointment today with Dr. Ferrick at 3:40,” Mom says, her voice echoing off the walls, “we’re a bit early today, I hope that’s alright.”
“Why hello Janet, and Maya, how are y’all doin’?” Dorothy asks with a slight drawl.
“We’re alright, I sup-” I start.
“Oh you know, we’re doing great, nothing much has happened since our last visit,”
“Well, that’s good,” Dorothy comments, her nails tapping against the keyboard, “I’ll get y’all right in, but the Doctor is with someone so it’ll be a bit of a wait.”
“That’s alright, Dorothy, we can wait,”
We walk, Mom’s heels clicking on the stone tiles. She sits down, barely making a sound. I plop down in a chair, tremors shaking the ground and my body. I cross my arms, and legs, slouching against the rough chair. My hair is hanging limply against my shoulders, tickling my face.
“Sweetie, it will be a few minutes or so ‘til the appointment can start, so you can sit and read,” Mom says.
“I know, I heard the conversation,”
“What was that, dear?”
“Nothing,” I grunt, clenching my fists tightly.
“Alright then, how was school today?” she asks, “Didn’t you have a quiz for a class, what class was that? Hmmm-”
“Honors Chem Mom,”
“-Honors Chem, that was it!” Mom exclaims at the same time.
“I just said that.”
“Oh sorry sweetie, so what did you get on the test?”
“I got an A minus, around 91.5” I answer, relaxing my muscles.
“Well, that’s good, did you learn anything today?”
“No, nothing really happened.”
“Okay, so you didn’t learn anything?”
“Yep, nothing at all” I reply, silence enveloping our conversation.
We sit there for what seems like hours, arms on the clock slowly move, echoing through my ear and out the other. I hear quiet and sharp breaths from Mom, the noise she makes when she’s nervous. Some women are chattering on about their days, and pages of a magazine or two being turned with a crisp rub of the page. I feel the presence of a confused fly buzzing back and forth, around the room. Heavy breaths fill my ears, coughing, and noses being blown. Dorothy, the receptionist, is checking a dad in, their faraway voices linger, her nails still tapping their way across the board. The sounds start to bother me, I rub my temples in a circular motion. I shut them out of my mind as fast as a cat catching a mouse, a trick I had learned over time.
I smell my Mom’s perfume on a current of air, a floral and citrus scent of Chanel no. 5, the same smell from eight years ago. The memories flood in of how I would sit on my Mom’s lap, her hand running through my tawny hair, and I bury my head in her arm telling her about my adventures at school. She would listen to every second of it.
My thoughts were quickly shut down when Mom abruptly asks, “Honey, are you thirsty? Do you need me to get water for you?”
“Um, I can get it myself,”
“No, no, I can get it for you,” fabric is rustling as she quickly gets up.
“I’m perfectly capable of getting it myself, I don’t need any more of your help,” Mom heavily sits back in her seat, the vibrations travel from her chair to mine.
“But you don’t-”
“Don’t what? Know my way around the place? Jesus, Mom, we’ve been here so many times before, I pretty sure I can handle filling my water bottle.”
“Yes, I know but I can do it for you, I’m right here.”
“I know, but so can I, I’ve been able to do it for a while now.”
Mom sighs, and after a bit, I feel the tension fade from her. The room grows silent, even the fly stops buzzing. “Mom, I’ll be right back, I’m not going far,” I reassure her, getting up, hand clasped around the bottle, as I tap my way to the fountain. I quickly return, as promised, and I gently sit down. I take a few sips of water, then I place it back in my backpack.
“I’m sorry, that I tried to prevent you from filling your water bottle up on your own,” Mom exhales.
“It’s alright, and I forgive you, this time.”
“What is it dear?”
“Please have a little trust and faith in me, I’m almost sixteen.”
She responds by gingerly wrapping her arm around my shoulders.
I place an arm around her shoulders and give a tight squeeze, her heart beats slowly. Mom lets her arm fall, and sighs, her mouth letting out a long and hot breath that smells like peppermint.
“Darling, I think I’ll stay out here when the appointment starts.”
“Really? You mean it”
“Yes, you’re capable enough, and I’ll still be sitting here when you come back, or if anything goes wrong.”
I sit there for a minute, as I take in what had just occurred. The corners of my mouth curve upward, stretching into a grin. I don’t even realize I’m grinning. I feel free.
I hear a door squeak open, “Maya, the doctor is ready for you,” a woman’s voice calls, in a high pitched ring. I slowly remove my arm from Mom’s shoulder, grab my bag, white cane, stand up, and walk towards the doctor’s office. For the first time, in a while, I don’t hear Mom’s footsteps behind me. No more heels constantly clicking to keep up with me, no more hand-holding, no more Mom. I push the door open, the handle cold to the touch, and enter the room; the door creaks shut behind me as I get ready for the appointment.