“No!” screamed the child. The tired mother looked near her wits end. The child squirmed in her arms and pushed at the stuffed toy.
The doctor behind them, waiting to enter the church sanctuary, cleared his throat. Neither the child or the mother noticed him. He raised an eyebrow and squinted one eye at his wife.
“I want to go home!” The child kicked out and hit the doctor’s wife’s purse. Looking at his wife, the doctor whispered, “Are you all right?” She nodded and smiled at him, patting his arm.
“It’s okay, Abbey,” the mother said soothingly, patting the child’s back. “After church we’ll get an ice cream.” The child stilled for a moment, then resumed her crying as the mother rocked her, still patting her back.
The doctor looked at the other people in line, assuming they felt the same way he did as they shuffled up the stairs. “That’s it!” he whispered loudly to his wife.
“It’s okay. She’s trying,” the wife told him, squeezing his arm gently.
An odor ripped through the foyer. The doctor quickly covered his nose and puffed out his chest. “Um, ma’am?” He tapped the frazzled mother. “Could you take your child away? She’s disrupting everyone.” He spread his hand, waving down the line.
People shuffled awkwardly and looked away from the doctor. His wife stared at a painting on the wall. The child stared at the doctor, silent, as mucus oozed from her nose into her mouth.
The doctor cleared his throat again. He glanced at the people in line and his wife. Nobody was watching the interchange any longer. Their faces were aimed in every direction away from him.
The mother’s eyes filled with tears. Almost as if the child sensed the mother’s distress, she began to scream and squirm again, until she kicked the doctor in the chest.
“Oomph,” he grunted, then snickering surrounded him.