The hospital had a parking lot again. It was somehow comforting that it was full of cars.
The lobby wasn’t quite right either. There was a huge Indian rug under the seating area and all the seats were wooden benches. It bustled with people. They had to wait in line to speak to Shirley the receptionist.
She seemed to recognize them when they came up, but she didn’t mention it. “May I help you?”
Miranda said, “My dad is in 1264. We’d like to see him.”
Shirley didn’t look as dazed as before, but she frowned at Miranda, like she was trying to remember her. “What’s your father’s name?”
Shirley tapped at her computer. “Close. Mr. McGee is in 1272.”
Nothing went back perfectly to how it had been.
Part of Miranda still felt the draw to fix that. “Is it okay if we go see him.”
Shirley frowned at Cindy. “Are you family?” She still looked confused, but like she thought her confusion was their fault somehow.
In a way she was right. Miranda said, “I’m his daughter.”
Shirley kept looking at Cindy. “Are you sisters?”
As much as Miranda willed her to lie, Cindy shook her head no.
Shirley turned back to Miranda. “Family only.”
Hot anger flared behind Miranda’s eyes. It would probably only take a little push to change the rules so Cindy could go with her.
Cindy seemed to sense what Miranda was thinking. She blurted out, “It’s okay. I’ll wait out here.”
Miranda still felt angry, but the look on Cindy’s face made her stop.
Shirley nodded at Cindy. “You can wait on the benches.” She looked at Miranda. “The elevator to the right, second floor.”
Nobody in the lobby looked sick or hurt, it was like they were waiting in a bus station. Miranda walked Cindy to an empty spot in the benches. “This’ll just be a second.”
Cindy’s legs dangled when she sat down. “I don’t like this.”
“It’ll be fine. I’ll fix Dad’s injury, we’ll go back home and we’ll fix the things with your dads on the way out of town.” She still had a nagging doubt about Cindy’s dads, but she didn’t say so.
Cindy looked haunted. Miranda wasn’t sure if she should leave her here. She picked Cindy’s hand off her lap and squeezed it.
With her other hand, she pulled the photo out of her back pocket. It still showed Dad and Alice. Dad still looked scared and stressed. If only she could fix that.
She closed her eyes, imagined Dad before the stabbing. She concentrated. This shouldn’t be that hard.
A minute went by and nothing felt different. When she opened her eyes the lobby was still full of the same people.
Cindy said, “Are you going to do it?”
“I thought I did.” Miranda frowned.
She turned toward the elevators. She should go up and check on Dad. She folded the photo and put it back in her pocket.
With one more squeeze of Cindy’s hand, she leaned to go. “I’ll be right back.”
Something felt weird, but she couldn’t put her finger on what. Shirley and the front desk looked the same it had a few minutes ago. Miranda crossed the Indian rug to the desk. “I’m going to head up now.”
Miranda only got two steps toward the elevators when one dinged. The door opened and a woman burst from it, a hospital gown flapped behind her.
The woman was panicked. She looked like a frightened animal as she scanned the room.
She looked familiar.
Miranda’s head swam, not ready to admit the obvious. The woman still had tape on her wrists from where the IV had been in. The gown opened across her belly. One of the bandages fell away. It still had blood on in but the wounds on her abdomen were gone.
Miranda pulled the photo out of her back pocket. Part of her tried to ignore the woman, who let out a yell when she saw Miranda. She ran at Miranda as Miranda unfolded the picture. Dad and Alice were gone. The photo had reverted back to Jane Smith. Back to her mom.
The woman crossed the lobby in a few strides. All Miranda could think was, “she’s healed.”
She grabbed Miranda by the shoulders. “What have you done?“