We drive down the coastal road, I fought with the idea of letting her sit on Cynthia’s lap, but their gumption won over my will. Or that my will to fight them is just weak. They surf the air with their hands with a backdrop of the ocean. I really never wanted this drive to end, to just keep going as they flew through the air, never stopping.
The appointment was the following day, so as a surprise we drove down the Anaheim. The awe in her face as she caught sight of the enormous castle. Noah dances the entire time we wait in line. “Is this where the king lives?” Noah asks. Cynthia smiles down to her. “Nope, that’s where the queen lives.” She says as I pay the ticket vendor. This place is magical and unnatural, regardless Noah is in paradise. We automatically get cotton candy, which was the first time Noah or Cynthia ever had it. I try to remember what the first taste of cotton candy was like, but give-up as Cynthia and Noah want to go onto the spinning cup ride. I thought I was used to the spin, but after that, my stomach was twisted into knots. More like sisters than Mother and daughter, Cynthia and Noah go on every ride they could, with me following behind to hold their drinks or snacks. Finally, they’re hungry enough that the snacks will no longer do. We make our way into a part of the park that was peculiarly constructed to appear just like New Orleans. They go to sit down at a table as I walk to the restaurant window to order. I repeat the order over and over again in my head as I wait for my turn. I spin around to check to see where they were seated when I see Noah begins to wobble in her seat, her face twitches. I forget the order, as I run over to her, she tips but Cynthia catches her. I sit next to her and cradle Noah in my arms. Her body slightly jostles and twitches, it wasn’t like the movies where they have an uncontrollable fit, it was like she just wasn’t there. I stare down at her with a look of concern when she comes back, her brown eyes look up at me as I brush her hair behind her ears. “What’s the matter?” She asks trying to sit back up. “Nothing dear, everything’s alright.” I say. I kiss her on the head and set her back between us, Cynthia wraps her arm around her and kisses her over and over again. “So who’s still hungry?” I ask as I sit up still shaken. “I’m not hungry, I’m Noah!” She shouts.
She sits on my shoulders as we watch the fireworks. She flinches a little at the loud ones, which makes me flinch a little as well. After the fireworks, they announce the park is closing. We shuffle out with the rest of the visitors. As soon as she touches the backseat she’s out. We arrive at the motel and carry her inside. With some cheap instant coffee, Cynthia and I sit outside smoking. “Dr. Flynn said that might happen, I just, you don’t really expect it to.” She says. I hand her the cigarette and rest my chin on my knees. “I don’t really know what to expect, I almost don’t want to go to the appointment tomorrow, I know we have to, but what if we don’t and we just drive to Mexico or something. Maybe not knowing is better?” Cynthia(I’m sure unintentionally)blows smoke into my face as she speaks. “We have to know! I can’t stand this acid feeling in my chest not knowing.” She takes another drag and hands the cigarette back to me. “I’m just not really used to this, when problems came up I could fix them, but now I’m inadequate.” I say then flick the cigarette into the parking lot, it bursts into an orange flower then vanishes. “You’re not useless, you’re doing just fine.” She gives me a kiss on the cheek and walks inside. I light another cigarette and sit there wanting to believe in prayer.
Spanish inspired architecture makes the hospital appear to be something it’s not. We walk hand in hand. Cynthia and I try to put on the bravest faces we could muster, but we couldn’t even touch the bravery of Noah. We sit in the small waiting room to see Elizabeth’s colleague Dr. Loewen. While we wait Noah explains to us in detail how medicine works. “When you’re sick, the doctor puts the medicine in a needle and tells you to not to look. You can look if you really want, then your arm hurts cause the doctor puts the medicine in. I’m going to be a doctor.” I mess her hair a little as she finishes. “I thought you wanted to be a spaceman?” She puts her hand to her forehead and thinks. “I can be both right?” She asks looking at her mother. “You sure can!” Cynthia says excited. “You’ll be Dr. Noah space explorer!” Door swings open and a middle-aged man with hair less than mine comes walking out. He comes to us as we’re the only ones in the waiting room. I stand up and extend my hand to shake his. “Hello, Dr. Loewen?” He takes my hand and smiles “In the flesh, but you may call me Stan.” He lets go of my hand and turns to Cynthia. “And you must be Cynthia.” He shakes her hand then bends down to Noah’s level. “And this must be the little trooper. It’s nice to meet you, Noah, I’m Dr. Stan.” She shakes his hand and in a firm voice. “I’m a Doctor also.” She says. “Wonderful! Then I can count on you for all the doctor stuff then.” He says standing back up to our level. “Well, follow me into my office and we can get to talking.” I pick up Noah’s bag and we trail him into his office.
A Van Gough print hangs behind his desk where I expected to see a wall filled with degrees. “Elizabeth mailed over her records. We’ll want to do some preliminary tests today then send you folks home. So can I get you anything, water, coffee, a coke?” He asks. Cynthia and I shake our heads no. “Alright, Dr. Noah, can you assist me by sitting on this stool here.” Noah happily obeys his request and climbs onto the chair. He pulls a small flashlight from his desk and a legal pad. Sitting in front of Noah he begins to ask her questions. “So Noah, have you ever closed your eyes so tight you’ve seen stars?” Noah nods her head. “Good, it’s pretty fun. Have you’ve seen those stars before without closing your eyes?” Noah nods yes again. He scribbles something on the paper then continues. “Does your head hurt when you see them?” Noah sits for a second and contemplates the question. “Not all the time.” She says. Before I realized Cynthia and I are gripping hands. “Do you feel dizzy sometimes and forget stuff?” Noah takes this moment seriously as it was her first taste of being responsible. “I do, my tummy hurts too.” He scribbles some more then tosses the pad onto his desk. Taking the tiny flashlight he flashes it in Noah’s eye and removes it. “Alright sweetie you’ve been a big help, but I need to talk with your Mom and Dad now. Lisa will help you find the best toys outside.” He taps a button on his desk and a second later the door opens up behind us. Whom I assume is Lisa stands in the doorway, with a face young enough to take your heart, but old enough to keep it safe. Noah runs out with Lisa. Dr. Loewen sits behind his desk, he writes some more on the notepad then looks up to us. “Has she had any episodes besides the headaches?” He asks in what I have to assume what he calls his doctor voice. “Yesterday, I believe she had a seizure.” I say, but Cynthia chimes in “No, it was defiantly a seizure.” He writes some more down on his pad. “This was the first one?” Cynthia and I nod our heads. “Alright, I’m going to send you three down to the lab to get her some x-rays. I’ll have Lisa show you the way after that take a slow way home I hear it’s going to be a beautiful night.” We shake hands and walk out of his office. Lisa and Noah play with fire trucks but pause as we walk in. Cynthia motions over to her and she’s by her side before you could blink an eye. “Lisa, can you walk these folks down to the lab for x-rays?” He asks. Lisa puts the toys back in their boxes and straightens her dress. “Glad to!” She says. “I’ll call Elizabeth with my findings once I have them, have a safe trip!” He says. We bow our heads and go our separate ways.
We follow Lisa down to the basement of the hospital. She opens the door for us and we walk into the dark room. “The technician will be with you shortly.” She makes her exit from the odd dream. “What’s that machine for?” Noah asks. I stare at the monstrosity of what the call an x-ray machine. “That’s so they can see inside you.” I tell in the best fatherly tone I could muster. “Will it hurt Dad?” I pull her close and hug her. “No, it only takes a flash and it’s done, you won’t even feel it.” I brush the bangs from her eyes. “And if you do a good job we’ll get some ice cream.” Cynthia says as the technician walks in. “Hello, if Noah can please lay on the table.” I walk Noah over the cold looking table. and have her lay down. The technician lays the lead covers over her small chest. “Alright sir, if you could wait outside for a minute?” He asked, though his tone suggested it to be an order. “No, I’ll stay.” I tell him as I stand there holding Noah’s hand. “Sir, there’s risks, you don’t really…” I cut him off. “Thank you for your concern sir, but I am aware of the risks, quicker we get this done the faster you can back to whatever else it is you do.” He shrugs his shoulders and walks into a room with a window facing us. The room is bright for a second then dark again as Cynthia leaves the room. I could picture her pacing outside waiting. “Close your eyes please.” The technician says behind the glass. Noah closes her eyes and he does the first. He removes the first sheet and replaces it. “Look to your left.” He orders. She looks at me for understanding. I point the to the wall opposite of the man. The second one is taken and the sheet replaced. “Look to your right.” He says again. I point over my shoulder and she looks in that direction like the brave girl she is. The man comes out and moves the machine away. I slide the lead cover and pick up Noah. “If anyone asks, I didn’t let you stay alright?” I nod my head and walk out of the door. Cynthia takes Noah from my arms the first second she could. We leave the hospital to get some ice cream.