Mom turned the ignition and set the car into drive while I stared vacantly out the window at the few dozen people standing in car pool lines near some of my fellow counselors. From the back seat of the car, I heard my sister and her friend Wendy answering my mother's annual questioning, and in the back of my mind I knew I'd be the next victim. The trees of the camp's property washed by the window and through the rearview mirror, and soon we were at the Mayfield intersection. I was tired, so I set my head on the window and closed my eyes and waited until we arrived at the house so I could change out of my swimsuit and into my shorts and take a nap.
"Josh!" my sister's voice rung through my head and I opened my eyes groggily. I was so tired, why'd she have to do that? As I looked out the window, I saw we were pulling into a parking lot and wondered what we were doing here.
"What?" I asked.
"Mom asked you a question."
I turned to my mother, who said, "Joh - were you sleeping?" When I shrugged, she continued, "We're at the eye place. I'm going to pick out my glasses."
"This place again?" I asked groggily.
"Yeah, do you want to come in with me? It'll only be a half an hour." Yeah, in a winged pig's third stomach. Last time we had come here, which was three weeks ago, my dad said that it would take forty-five minutes. It had ended up taking two hours, and by then my sister and I had begun to play with the little two year-old present with his mother and we had begun to start sneaking hard candy out of a jar on the doctor's desk to soothe our hunger impulses.
"No," I said.
"How about you two?" my mom asked. We had parked to the right to a white Winstar that appeared almost identical to the one I was sitting in. She was looked in the rearview mirror at my sister and her friend, who looked at each other.
"Let's stay," my sister said, and Heather agreed.
"Um . . ." my mother thought about it for a second, but then made her decision. "You know what, girls? I'd feel a lot better if you came in with me."
My sister grumbled. "Mom, you asked-"
"I know what I asked, but I'd just feel a lot safer if you came with me." Heather remained silent, but my sister, Leah, was terminally obstinate, so she kept on arguing.
"But Mom!"
"Not another word!"
My sister grumbled again as the side door slid open and she got out, and Heather followed. My mother took her purse and left. I lay my head on the window again, and watched them walk to the front door lobby of the optometrist's office through the sun scattered glass and waited. Closing my eyes, I remembered I really had to start reading my summer reading book, To Kill a Mockingbird. It was in my blue and black book bag at my feet in the front pocket, at hand for use during naptime for my kindergarten campers when there was nothing else to do besides sit on a milk crate in the darkened, musty room and muse over the incidents good and bad during the morning. I decided to take it out and start reading it, because naptime was rarely without interruptions from my reading time, hence I was only on page fifty something when it was the middle of July.
After a few minutes of reading, I closed the book and put it back inside my book bag. Looking at my watch I found it was four forty-five, twenty minutes after we'd gotten here. They better be back soon. I leaned back against the seat and watched a red Corvette pull into the space across from me. I stared at it in wonder, and after a few seconds of staring I gawked at the driver, a grubby man with torn, dirty clothing, ripped jeans, and no shoes. I looked down, at my book bag and wondered if I'd ever have enough money to buy a Corvette, because if that hobo could get one, they had to be incredibly inexpensive. Looking out my window now, I saw another white Winstar pull in beside ours, so there were white Winstars on both sides of my mom's car. Wow. Freaky.
I turned my head to left to see if the other Winstar was still there but it wasn't. T'had probably pulled out while I was reading. Looking back at the Winstar to my right, I found a woman with brown hair and a blue T-shirt that looked very familiar arguing with someone in the backseat. As I stared at them, the back door opened and out came two girls that looked remarkably like my sister and Heather. I gaped for the fourth time in four minutes, but this was a different kind of gaping.
My mother got out of the car next to ours and walked towards the optometrist's building. My heart started beating fast and my door flew open and I jumped out and onto the parking lot pavement. I calmly walked a few steps until I could see a boy in the passenger seat sleeping against the car window that had the exact shade of brown hair that lay on my head. I turned back toward our Winstar and found that the Corvette had moved over a space to the right.
"What?" I mumbled, staring dumbfounded at the three cars. This is really freakin weird.
With what little decision making skills were left unscathed from the passing moment's awkwardness and misplaced adrenaline, I decided to run inside and see my mother, Leah and Heather to double-check that there really are two exact same families-no eeriness; pure coincidence. After that I would laugh and Mom would say I could have a Coke when we get home and we're ordering a pizza, yeah, Josh, it's Friday, remember? Shut up, Leah.
I looked at my watch, and it said four-thirty one on its digital clock face. What? That made no sense. It was four forty-five five minutes ago. Even more mystified, I opened the glass door and walked inside the flower-smelling air conditioned room that hit me like a waterfall as soon as I stepped in. There were eight clothed chairs on each side of the room, and there was a white carpet on the floors. The walls were white, and the ceiling was white. How creatively decorative.
There was Leah and Heather sitting on the chairs to the left. Leah was reading her book and Heather was staring at the rug. My mom wasn't there. Wondering vaguely if this was really Leah and Heather or was it just the Maple Street clones that stalked our every move, I walked up to my sister and sat down next to her. Across the room the hobo stared glumly at me with his head propped up by a shoulder that looked like a skunk had sat on it while going around and around on a race car tire and going crunch . . . crunch.
"Where's Mom?" I asked softly, keeping my eyes away from the hobo. When she didn't answer, I said, a little bit louder this time, "Leah! Where's Mom? Did the doctor see her?" She turned the page. Heather shifted her weight and picked up a magazine from the table next to her.
No answer.
I waved my hand in front of her face, but she didn't blink. Her eyes went back and forth, back and forth in that corn on the cob motion, sight unobstructed. I took her shoulder and shook it, but it wouldn't move. She was at the bottom of the page.
"All right, callous causer, joke's over. Snap out of it."
My eyes widened as I realized she really didn't notice me. Was this somehow connected to the incident with the Winstars, and the Corvette? No! my rational mind screamed back. There is no connections, why the hell are you even making corrections, you retard, there is nothing weird happening, this is all a coincidence and they are playing a joke on you. Mom's going to come out with her freakin bifocals and hand me a Coke from the machine and SURPRISE! Ha, you guys got me.
I got up out of my seat and whacked her book from her hands, but it didn't move. I said to Heather, "Heather, stop joking. Talk to me, please, you got me." All of a sudden Leah looked up and smiled.
"Nice glasses, Mom," Leah said.
"Thanks. They nice, Heath?"
Leah and Heather both stood up. "They're great." Mom was wearing some nice, colorful glasses that were exactly what I would have predicted she would buy before she bought it. They were cool, but I wanted to talk to her.
"Mom, what are we having for din - ?" I asked.
"Come on, kids, I already paid," Mom said. She opened the door for Leah and Heather, and it slammed shut in my face.
"Mom?" I croaked.