As Mary Lou entered the food court, it was as busy as she ever remembered seeing it. Of course, over the years she has avoided coming here during the noon hour rush. Not today though. Every table was occupied, almost at capacity. There were a few seats available, here and there, and a few more in out-of-the-way places, if you knew where they were. The noise was louder than ever, the big-screen TV blaring. Lines at all the food vendors places blocked the aisle ways so Mary Lou chose the middle aisle. The smells were multifaceted. Depending upon where you stood, you could make your selection of what you want to eat based upon that smell alone.
She decided to have coffee and let it go at that. If she found Lucia, then she would go sit with her, if there was room, and she would ask her if she wanted anything, and, if she did, then she'd go get it, maybe. The first thing, though, was finding Lucia. Where was that girl? She scanned the area around where she stood. She didn't see her. She walked up the aisle further and scanned again. She still didn't see her. Well, she hadn't seen her right off so Mary Lou decided that she better go to the restroom. The bathroom was probably as busy as it ever got, but sitting there with Lucia would be a lot more comfortable after she had relieved herself.
Mary Lou was lucky though. She didn't have to stand in line to get a stall. She hurried, then wash her hands, and went back down the hall and out into the food court. Now, where was Lucia? Ah, there. She saw Isabel. Isabel was emptying garbage cans. She had one of those big bins she could dump the full plastic bags from the garbage cans into and then push it onto the next station. She couldn't hurried doing it, because there were too many people to get through and she had to be patient. So, if Isabel was there, and she was, then Lucia had to be close by. She started looking through the tables again, trying to find the girl.
There she was. That was why Mary Lou had missed her before. Lucia was sitting at a table that was filled with other people --- a family of four and three young people, maybe college-age. There were no chairs around her available. Lucia was working on a word search.
Well, Mary Lou thought, I'll just go and get my coffee first. Then I'll see if there's a place to sit close to Lucia. Maybe something will open up.
As Mary Lou walked toward the coffee shop she passed right by Isabel and said hello. Isabel looked up at Mary Lou and said hello back, and then recognition flashed across Isabel's face. "Glad to see you, Mary Lou," Isabel said.
Mary Lou was surprised to hear her say anything back to her. "Busy today, isn't it? It seems busier than usual, but I'm not usually hear this time of the day."
"Yes, it's busier," Isabel said. "Are you planning to get something to eat and to sit with my daughter?"
"I was planning to get some coffee; I'm not quite ready to eat yet. Then I was going to sit by Lucia if I could, but right now she is surrounded by other people."
"Yes, I know," Isabel said.
Mary Lou thought Isabel looked worried. "Is anything wrong?"
Isabel looked at Mary Lou as if she was looking inside her, trying to see if she could trust her. "My daughter is not doing too well today," she said. "Maybe you haven't noticed because you have taken an interest in her and almost nobody else does. My daughter, she has the epilepsy. You know, she has these seizures, and sometimes they're worse than other times. But today, it is bad. She didn't have her pills for yesterday or today."
Mary Lou couldn't believe Lucia hadn't had her pills. As caring as Isabel always was, as far as Mary Lou had seen them interacting together, she didn't think that Isabel would jeopardize her daughter's health or safety by not providing her medication if she could help it. Something must be wrong. "Is there anything I can do? Can I give her some pills?"
"Could you just go sit with her? Make sure she's okay, at least while it's so busy in here? Her seizures, they get worse when it is so busy and noisy. That would help me."
"Certainly, I can do that. There must be something else I can do, though? What about her pills? How come she hasn't had them? Is she out of them?"
Isabel looked around. She looked concerned to Mary Lou.
"I can't talk about it right now. If I get some time, I'll come and tell you more about it. For now though, if you could just sit with Lucia and make sure she's okay. You know, while it's so busy in here and so noisy." Isabel hurried off, pushing the bin with the garbage bags in it off to the next station where several more garbage cans stood together in a station. She waited for the people to move away, then lifted the lids off of the cans, and pulling the bags out, she hefted them into the bin, moving as fast as she could go, glancing around as if something were the matter, as if somebody was watching her, and then looking over to where her daughter sat, surrounded by people, strangers, and then looking back at Mary Lou. Isabel's eyes seemed to plead.