"Hello, Mrs. Daniels."
"He should be okay."
"It's a fine boy you have there. I'll send the nurse in with the release papers."
The Doctor exited the room and Mr. Daniels remained on the bed. A Nurse entered later and Mrs. Daniels started working on the papers she was handed as Mr. Daniels' son looked around from his chair.
He had watched the distended sheath that contained his father intently, so he never got a look at the faces to the people who came and went. As his mother worked, he stood and walked across the checkerboard floor to the window in Mr. Daniels' room.
Outside, some inpatients circled the fountain St. Vincent's donators had endowed the hospital's courtyard with last spring as recently discovered diseased people dripped through the doors from cars pulled in front. On the other side of the cars was the hospital's sign that welcomed the people and beyond that were the woods that grew all around the line of towns cut into the landscape.
The drunken towns and pine-needled forests were both fed by the rivers that flew down the mountains behind the woods in front of the hospital. A circling hawk held the boy's attention until it turned off toward the White Mountains and dove into the voluble krummholz of Black Spruce.
Mrs. Daniels finished the paperwork and pulled her son out away from the window. A young nurse entered the room with Mr. Daniels' wheelchair and the two exchanged gifts. On the Nurse's way out Mrs. Daniels told her to thank the Doctor for everything.
He helped his mother escort the bandaged Mr. Daniels into his seat and the trio strolled out of St. Vincent’s.
His mother struggled with Mr. Daniels allowing her son to reach the door of the family car first. He heard the click of his mother's automatic door opener, then attempted to open the door behind the driver's; he remembered what his mother had told him, walked to the other side of the battered Suburban, and climbed into the passenger seat.
Eventually his mother opened the trunk and lowered the back row of seats. He heard a roll and sounds of settling, then noticed Mr. Daniels laid out on his back behind him. His mother had strapped his' feet, waist, and chest to the car's middle row of seats; she climbed over Mr. Daniels into the driver's seat and started the car. She untaped the ad hoc, plastic wrap driver's window and adjusted the half-gone side-mirror. She rehinged the window and left St. Vincent’s.
They drove a while, past a clearing where leaning against the passenger window, he could see the mountains where Mr. Daniels took his son when Mrs. Daniels went on her weekend visits with her mother in the woods sprouting next to the road. Mrs. Daniels looked into her rearview mirror, over to her son, and smiled.
© Copyright 2017 Liam Cooper. All rights reserved.
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