Out the window, the sun was an orange afterthought. Tim sat in a blue plastic chair, swinging his legs in air-conditioned silence. Malcolm leant against the wall, watching the door handle, daring it to turn. He felt time in a slow leak.
She came in by herself, in normal clothes, with a serene, normal expression. Malcolm knew she could never look out of place. The only thing that betrayed her was her right hand, constantly trying to remove a cigarette from an invisible pack. The bones in her wrist stuck out strangely, odd creatures in shallow skin graves. She looked at Tim, and his languid boredom quickly tensed, the tip of his swinging shoe striking the polished floor with a violent squeak, his body slumping still. She just stared back placidly, as if this happened to her every day.
Normally when Tim was anxious or confused he would look to Malcolm, opening his obtuse eyes, pleading for explanation or rescue. But this time he simply stared back, mouth tight as if stifling a yawn. Malcolm could understand Tim being apprehensive, even scared, by what was going on, but her—surely she felt something.
But then he thought that perhaps she had no natural instincts left. Perhaps all that stood behind her vacant face were vacant thoughts: manufactured reflexes, a refined idea of who she should be. For the first time, Malcom felt a soft throb of guilt. It echoed through his head.
Gin watched his mother, and she watched him. It was a two way mirror. All they saw were their own reflections.