Sitting in the passenger seat of her mother’s car, Jane Summers watched out the window as the tall, broad buildings of Chicago gave way to the cluttered jumble of smaller suburban buildings. Not for the first time, she noted how ‘burb streets were so much wider than those in the city, giving her the impression that the veins and arteries of Chicago were too constricted to support the life blood of the city.
“I want you to listen to the doctor tonight.” The last time Jane remembered hearing this tone in her mother’s voice, she had been in high school. “When I talked to him, he had some very interesting things to say.” Hilda glanced up at the rearview mirror. “Natasha, didn’t he talk to you as well?”
Jane heard Wings stir in the back seat. “Yeah. I mean, yes.”
“Did he tell you what he was going to say tonight?”
Jane heard the hesitation in Wings’ voice as the young woman replied. “No — not really. He just — asked me a bunch of questions. Then he asked if I could come out here tonight.” Gary’s home. Dr. Patel had asked Jane if her family and close friends could join them for their next meeting. He had asked for permission to speak with each of them, and Jane, sensing that they needed as much help dealing with her condition as she did, had agreed.
Hilda exited from the highway, onto a state road that lead to Gary’s subdivision. Jane heard Wings stir again in the back seat. “Your friend drives in from all the way out here every day?” They had been in the car for almost an hour.
“Gary says he doesn’t mind.” Jane decided not to talk about Gary’s mood after arriving in the office on bad weather days.
“So why didn’t he drive in to the city for this meeting?”
Jane turned in her seat, saw Wings’ uncomfortable face in the yellow light of the street lamps. “Dr. Patel didn’t want this meeting in his office, or in a public place like a restaurant. We thought about my apartment, but that would probably be too cramped.” That hadn’t been Jane’s only objection. “Meeting at Gary’s house seemed like the best option.”
They drove in silence a long moment until the GPS came to life. In half a mile, turn right onto Tranquility Drive. Jane read the street signs with disinterest.
In 650 feet, the destination is on your right. Jane had been to Gary’s home several times, but this was the first time since that morning she had woken up and believed a large portion of the world had changed around her. Like many things that weren’t directly related to either transportation or telecommunication technology, Gary’s home in this reality was much like the one she remembered, a large two-story colonial with a red brick façade. The car pulled into the wide, curved driveway, came to a stop behind a large sedan, a monstrous vehicle which had become nearly obsolete in the world that Jane remembered.