She didn't know how long he'd been gone, but it felt like hours. The room was silent other than the faint ticking from a nearby wall clock. She'd glanced at her phone a half a dozen times, but couldn't remember what time he'd gone back.
The waiting room was small. Every wall and piece of furniture was white. Stacks of highlights and outdated People magazine with torn, yellowed covers lay spread across a single worn nightstand in the corner. A paint stained bucket filled with large blocks lay on its side, otherwise untouched in the corner.
One eyebrow raised she thought to herself, 'They wouldn't possibly allow children here.'
She couldn't sit still any longer. She rose to her feet and started to pace from one side of the room to the other. She kept her arms crossed tightly to her chest, more for warmth, than out of concern, occasionally bringing her thumb to her lips to tug lightly on her nailbed.
A loud clink can be heard in the distance. Distinct metal on metal as a door slams shut, footsteps barely recognizable under the shudder of metal through the thin walls. She stops her pacing only momentarily, staring through the double panes of frosted glass, tracing the movement beyond with her eyes.
No one comes for her, so she finds her place in one of the hard plastic chairs.
"I just need two seconds. It won't take but two..." She pauses as the large metal door swings inward before continuing under her breath, "seconds"
"So sorry to keep you waiting," he mumbles from behind a stack of loose papers and Manila folders. She watched him impatiently as he continued rifling through them as if he'd misplaced something important.
He tussled the documents onto his free arm, struggling to shuffle them back in place before they fall to the floor.
"Busy day." He continues "Ah, yes. Crampton?" He smiles galiantly pulling a folder from the stack.
She nods silently in agreement.
"Great. Unfortunate circumstances, but well, lets get you on back then, shall we?" He speaks calmly but his hands shake as he motions for her to follow him through the door.
Taking a single deep breath, she nods once more, and reaches for her bag, clutching it close to her body.
The air around her was still and cold, sending chills through her body like falling through thin ice on a pond. She knew what to expect as they rounded the corner and passed through the corridors, but uncertainty still pulsed in her chest.
“He’s just through here.” he pauses pulling a single door from a double set towards him and waving her past with the folder he’d pulled from the stack.
She hesitates but eases past him into a dimly lit room. It’s small, but the numbered drawers, seem endless. She shakes a bit at the thought of what they hold. Beside her, he siltently opens the folder, bendin slightly to let the stack fall onto a lone desk knocking a lamp on its side.
She tries to hide her nerves but the lamp makes her jump ever so slightly.
“Ah, here it is. Number 54.” He whispers to himself as his finger runs over the now open folder. His eyes search the walls quickly. “Right this way, Miss Crampton.”
“Amelia.” She says softly. Her lips are pursed and her body still. She doesn’t lift so much as a toe to follow him as he makes his way to the far wall of drawers.
He doesn’t so much as glance at her as he reaches forward and pulls the drawer outward. Her hands tremble as they fall to her side. Her chest deflates as she tries to find the strength to move forward.
The drawer slides open to reveal a crumpled white sheet. She struggles to find her center as she shuffled slowly toward it. Clenching her fists, she draws a single deep breath, and holds it until it burns in her chest.
“I know this is difficult Miss... I’m sorry, Amelia, but you’re the only kin he had left. I understand that you hadn’t seen your brother in some time, but we’re hopeful that you were familiar with his uhm identifying marks, given the state of his body.” His hand was resting at the edge of the sheet. “Whenever you’re ready.” He said softly, placing his free hand gently on her shoulder.
Finally, she exhales, saying nothing, closes her eyes and nods only once.
He smiles sweetly, and slowly removes the veil of white.
(TO BE CONTINUED...)