Chapter Five: Lake Forest
I had been up since four thirty a.m. when Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” blared out of my iPhone.
My hand reached out of the covers and slapped on anything until the music stopped. When I opened my eyes, the bedroom was already lit up. And Rachel stood by my side of the bed in her sports bra, yoga pants, and Nike running shoes.
“Come on, slowpoke!”
I fumbled out of bed and pulled on my black jogging shorts. I hated wearing shorts, partly because I had been traumatized by those embarrassingly short shorts I wore in PE at El Toro High School in the eighties and partly because I felt uncomfortable about my legs and everything else about me. Somehow, I felt more comfortable in front of Rachel. I threw on a Wayne Morgan t-shirt I had relegated to the junk clothes pile since he got traded from the Angels, and slipped on some low-rise socks and my Nike running shoes.
We ran along a trail that went behind her housing complex and up and down the foothills. The first time I ran, I slogged far behind Rachel. I feared I would die on the first hill. Now, I could keep up with her. Barely.
When we got home, she made us soy protein shakes with her Vitamix. It was supposed to be vanilla flavor, but it had the chalky taste of a barium milkshake I once had for an upper GI. I had to admit that it woke me up better than the double-shot espressos I used to have.
Rachel and I took turns with the shower. She put on her hospital scrubs. I shaved and put on my slacks and dress shirt and tie. By the time we were finished, David and Moshe were up.
“Boker tov, Ima,” they chimed to Rachel.
David and Moshe were born in the United States after Rachel and her ex came here, but they spoke Hebrew at home. I learned Hebrew when I was studying for my bar mitzvah, but I forgot most of it. I still knew most of the alphabet and “Ayfo ha’shayrutim?,” which would be useful if I ever visited Israel.
“Good morning, Dr. Glass,” they said to me.
“Good morning.” I gave her kids a big smile. They smiled back.
They didn’t know what to call me. They couldn’t call me “Dad” because I wasn’t their dad. “Oliver” was too informal, and Rachel thought it was disrespectful for children to call adults by their first names. “Dr. Glass” was too formal, but there was nothing else they could call me. And Rachel and I hadn’t been together long enough for her children to see me as something other than a doctor.
She gave David and Moshe a bunch of instructions in Hebrew. Rachel promised to help me brush up on my Hebrew, but she hadn’t gotten around to it. I doubted that she ever would teach me. She usually spoke Hebrew to her children when she had something she didn’t want me to hear.
“Kayn, Ima,” they dutifully agreed.
When Muriel and Dylan were that age, they instantly agreed with anything Teresa and I told them. Dylan did have a habit of agreeing with us and then going ahead and doing what he wanted. I still thought he was a good kid. What happened? Was it because of the divorce? And why didn’t I know what was going on with him?
The kids slipped on their backpacks. Rachel grabbed her purse. I slipped my iPhone in my pocket and picked up my briefcase. We all headed out the front door, and I walked with them to her car. Rachel had a big SUV, a four-year-old Sequoia that used to belong to her ex. She never could fit it in her garage, so she parked it outside. She was kind enough to let me put my new Lexus SUV in the garage.
“David and Moshe have practice today at four,” she said, “And I’m on call late today. Do you think you can take them?”
“Sure. My last appointment is at two thirty.”
She pressed the button on her remote. The doors of her SUV clicked open. “See you later.”
I gave her a hug and a kiss. “See you.”
I knelt down and hugged her kids. They felt comfortable with me doing that.
My office was just a few minutes drive from the house. The landlord just upgraded the paint and carpeting so the building didn’t look so dated. My waiting room still had the same corduroy sofa and coffee table I bought 13 years ago. My patients didn’t mind. They probably felt that having old furniture meant I wasn’t overcharging them.
“Good morning, doctor.” Alison had been my receptionist since I opened the office. “Your nine o’clock, Mr. Garcia, said he’ll be a few minutes late. Mrs. Chen asked if she could reschedule for four today.”
“I have another commitment.” Since I started dating Rachel, I had gotten better about not letting work interfere with home. “Do we have any openings tomorrow morning?”
“The ten thirty cancelled. I can call Mrs. Chen and see if we can fit her in.”
“Sounds good. Thank you, Alison.”
I stepped away from her desk.
“Oh, and Dr. Glass?”
I stopped. She gestured towards my office.
“You got a call from your ex. It sounds urgent. I forwarded her call to your voicemail.”
I didn’t rush to the office because I didn’t want to alarm my staff. But my heart pounded with every step I took. The past few years, the only time I would hear from Teresa was if something terrible happened, like when she and Steven kicked Dylan out of the house. Otherwise, I wouldn’t hear from her. Nor would want to.
As I stepped into the office, the red message light was blinking on my phone. I quietly closed the door behind me, set down my briefcase, and lowered myself into my desk chair. I took a deep breath and pressed the Message button.
“You have one new message. First message.”
Then, Teresa’s voice blared out the speaker. She did sound upset.
“Listen, Oliver. I don’t know what you heard or saw, but it isn’t true! Believe me, it isn’t true!”
The calm automated voice came back.
“End of message. To delete this message, press...”
I punched the seven button hard. My shoulders trembled as I exhaled.