A little girl. A little girl on a bench. A little girl sleeping on a bench with her head in her mother's lap, with the exhaustion of a six a.m. wakeup call weighing heavily on her tired eyes. She just barely fits, knees curled up to her chest, on the bench in the gray waiting room. With more color than the walls themselves, her face is tense, her jaw clenched. Every minute awake is slower than the next, but there's never enough time to sleep. Her mother places her hand on her head, covering her eyes from the light and the pain, and the little girl isn't so scared anymore.
A girl. A girl on a bench. A girl with her head propped up against the hard gray wall. Every now and then she changes what part of her face touches the wall, to relieve the other of the pain of supporting her whole head. She keeps her eyes closed, trying to avoid making eye contact with the other people in the room. She counts the seconds until she has to leave. When her head becomes tired of the wall, she leans over and puts her head on her own mother's shoulder, for her head hurts and her stomach cringes, and her mother puts her jacket around the girl. And the girl finally falls asleep until she is jolted awake by the sound of her own name.
A teenager. A teenager on a bench. A teenager sitting alone on the bench. Her feet hang off the side, respectfully, but her legs keep her in a comfortable enough position to drift in and out of sleep, only to wake up at the sound of the door opening and closing rather obnoxiously. Her mother sits in a chair right beside her. She snaps when her mother tries to interrupt her sleep and talk to her, but her mother stays there, patiently, through every second of the anger and deals with the sarcasm, because she knows it's not easy. It's not easy being there, in the room with no color, on the bench they sit on every time.
A woman. A woman on a bench. A women sitting uncomfortably upright. A woman trying to make interest out of what she sees in the plain room while she waits minute after minute. She hears a sharp voice call out her name, and stands up quickly. Everything is familiar and everything is routine for her. She'll soon forget that morning among all the ones just like it, but she'll never forget why she is there.
They are on the bench. The little girl wonders what is wrong with her, and struggles to adjust. The girl struggles to accept what she is only just starting to understand. The teenager wonders what she did to deserve this, angry that this is what her life is going to be like. The woman looks around the room and does not wonder anymore. She knows how lucky she is, because others have it worse. She accepts her reality. Every now and then she peeks through her eyelashes at the little girl sleeping on her mother's lap. She watches the girl asleep on her mother's shoulder. She watches the teenager snap at her mother. And the woman remembers her mother being there through all of it, and she is so thankful.