When Cynthia had finished with Eva, she almost didn’t recognize herself. Her long, honey curls had been chopped off. She now wore a brunette bob, with front bangs, that hung just past her ears. Her eyebrows had been plucked (a painful process indeed) and now resembled smooth arches instead of the thick bushes she’d gotten from her father. The overall effect was that she’d lost her round face; her jaw and cheeks were more prominent and her nose was a sharper feature.
“What do you think hun?” Cynthia stepped back to admire her work.
“I think I don’t look at all like myself.”
“That’s the point, darling. That’s the point.” Cynthia’s voice sounded sad. As though she enjoyed her work, but not the reasons it had to be done. “Oh, lookee; there’s Mitchell come to take you back.”
Eva spun around in her chair. Mitchell was indeed walking towards her, but once he saw her, he stopped dead in his tracks. He quickly recovered himself. Once he reached them he said, “Great job, Cindy. I almost didn’t recognize her. I’ll take her off your hands now.”
Eva slid out of the chair. Cynthia put her arms around her in a hug. “You be strong now, you hear me? You gotta be a strong girl, okay?” Eva nodded into her shoulder. “Now, I expect you’ll be going to meet your family now, right?” She glanced up at Mitchell; he nodded. “Well, go on then.” She released Eva and dabbed at her eyes.
Eva followed Mitchell out of the room and asked, “What were the desks for in there?”
“They’re for cases that spend longer here. Usually, we allow someone a week to stay and learn their new… life story.”
“Oh.” Eva paused. “I’m not staying because…?”
“Apparently, you’re a special case.” He sighed. “And it’s especially because of that, that I think you should stay longer. Here,” he handed her a manila envelope full of papers. “You’ll want to start reading.”
Eva’s eyes bugged. “All of it?”
Mitchell laughed. “Not necessarily. Some of it I’ll tell you. Anyway, we have a long drive ahead of us, so I’m sure you can put a good dent into it.”
“Where are we going?”
“You’re new Protection family is in Massachusetts.”
“That is quite a drive,” Eva said. “You’ll be taking me?”
“Of course,” he said. “Why? You don’t like me?” he asked, teasing.
“No,” Eva said. “Quite the opposite. You’re the only one here I do like. Well, trust at least.”
Mitchell laughed again. By this time, they had made it out of the hospital. Mitchell opened the back door to his car and Eva scrambled in. The sky was still mostly dark; only a few beams of light were escaping in the east. Mitchell climbed in the driver’s seat and turned around to make sure Eva was fastened in. She was; and she was already asleep.