The Waiting Room by Maggie Butler  The ride there had the twists and turns of a Van Gogh painting, the kind of roads that sent the passenger from one side to another, from left to right. Tension and a sense of hesitancy hung like a cloud above our car. No words were exchanged, maybe because neither of us had anything to say, or maybe because neither of us had anything we thought we should say aloud. The secondhand crawled to the 12 as it might after running a marathon. My father sunk his teeth into the pale, stubbly bit of skin in the upper-third section between his bottom lip and his chin. I knew he was mad, anxious, or both. His nervous glances indicated an uncertainty in the surroundings. A few minutes passed before he had decided enough was enough. It was not long before he was inside the Golden Wok, asking directions from a small Asian woman taking telephone orders for sesame chicken and fried rice. I watched this all through two pieces of glass. The silence was quieter without my dad. We got back on the road. My father narrowed his already narrow eyes and dropped his head towards the steering wheel for a better view of the upcoming signs. He kept what little information I was sure he got out of the petite woman to himself, so I remained helpless for the remainder of the mission. My dad said, “Oh that’s fantastic, we’ve just missed our turn,” then looked to me as if I had an explanation for it all. The right corner of my top lip crept up towards my nose. I wanted to wave goodbye to the sign we had just passed that announced Lisa Wilson: Psychotherapist, realizing this was our destination. My dad made the next turn and got back on the road, traveling in the direction of the “office.” Once we parked the car, I partially opened my door with my hand, kicking it the rest of the way open. I then slowly unchecked my seatbelt from the buckle and carried it back to where it would sit until I was ready to leave, “a changed person,” or so I hoped. Is that not the point of therapy? My arms fought over the privilege of closing the door but no agreement was reached; instead, the next thing that happened was the loud crunch of the car door against the rest of the car. My dad was long gone. Everything about the surroundings of the place was wrong. Cars whipped by all too close and all too fast on the narrow yet busy road to my left. Lights tried to make it all make more sense but failed. A few questionable individuals sat in their cars very much like myself a moment before. Maybe they went to therapy, too. I hopped between the pieces of broken up concrete to find my dad opening the dark gray industrial door to the waiting room. My feet weighed more and more each step inside of the god- forsaken place. I looked to my feet, to make sure they were making any progress at all, and noticed the forest green carpeting. The carpet was the kind of material you think that, if met with friction or resistance, might create a spark or small fire. My dad fell back against an available chair, exasperated, receiving an applaud from the audience of shaky, wicker furniture that shook and shifted as he took his seat. A small yellow light crawled out from under its old-fashioned green shade to see the man they had all praised, all the while illuminating the dust that fell off the old plastic green plant, which stayed motionless in the corner for what looked like could have been ten years. I had two very familiar feelings in that dimly lit waiting room. The familiar feeling when I recognized the oversized black pleather couch from what I thought was a Bob’s Discount Furniture advertisement I had seen a number of times on the television. My body was consumed by the couch in such a way that I felt I had been buried in sand on the beach up to my head. The second familiar feeling came with most waiting rooms, that, grit your teeth and clench your fists “I am already ten minutes late and you are still not ready?” bitterness. While I probably could have equated the sinking feeling in the couch to some piece of furniture at my grandfather’s house, I did not, and ultimately I was uncomfortable. My eyes darted towards my father who was occupied completing a crossword extracted from one of the $5 Airplane Activity Books we always seemed to have around. My only company was the vaguely unsettling old Sony boombox that was set atop the wicker coffee table reeling Taylor Swift and Katy Perry’s latest and greatest songs. The connection was poor where we were (wherever the f*** that was) so instead I focused on the crackling noises coming through, hoping to find some sort of pattern, maybe even a message being transmitted to me. Maybe I was here for a reason after all. Crackling was interrupted by creaking and my eyes found a set that turned down at the sides, much like the owner’s mouth. The mouth asked, “Maggie?” but the eyes said, “I feel bad for you.” I looked to my father as if I were foreign to the English language and he half-heartedly agreed that was, in fact, my name.