submission | Teen Ink


December 9, 2019
By Anonymous

         Something inside her aches, it aches to be noticed and it aches to be recognized. Nina knew it was time to go to the doctor because the pain has become too unbearable. It's the time of the year where the leaves begin to change and the air becomes crisper and colder. It is now the first fall after the event. Since then, Nina has sharp pains in her chest, like a rainstorm of needles are puncturing her body. Ever since last fall Nina has been different, it's like something in her life struck a chord inside her, but instead of just letting the cord play it took all the music away leaving just the vibration of where the music used to be. She knew the pain is real but nobody believes her. On her way up the elevator to her annual physical appointment, she feels a sinking feeling taking over her body, the nerves. Nina knew the doctor would ask questions and she knew she would have to answer them. The doors open and the elevator lets out a breath,  good luck it chimes and leaves her in the lobby of the doctors' office. She approaches the check-in desk and signs in. It will just be a moment Nina, the nurse tells her, find a seat in the waiting room. In the small waiting room, a man is sitting across from her, he is coughing into his hands. Almost as if he is trying to catch what his body is trying to tell him. Through the dryness of his coughs and the stench he is giving off, its clear he's a smoker. The noise of the coughing echoes through the waiting room, bouncing off the lights and the walls. The man fidgets with his phone out of the discomfort of the situation. Then she hears a familiar noise, his phone rings. She closes her eyes. She's back to last fall and she's on the phone with her best friend Laney. Laney is rambling on about the whole night she has planned for them. Ok, first my roommates are out of the room so it will be just like high school, I got popcorn and cookie dough, then we will watch only the most iconic and the best movie ever written and produced, can you guess what it is? Laney’s excitement washed over her, Nina was painting her nails a warm red color, she kept her movement limited to keep the nail polish off of her cuticles. Her nails are sensitive because she picks them, especially her skin around them. She's always anxious. Because of all this, she lets out a dull I don't know what is it, Laney? Laney carries on with her excitement, Ok, if you're not going to guess I'll just tell you, remember what movie we used to watch all the time when we were younger? Our parents hated us watching it, but we did anyway. It’s Grease! Are you excited? Nina felt bad for the one-sided conversation and wanted to show a bit of enthusiasm. Nina said, of course, I remember that I'm excited, I remember how we used to eat those candy cigarettes as we watched it, we’d pretend like we were Riso and hold the sugar between our fingers and take an imaginary drag. I wonder if they still sell those? She was moving too much, so much so that she let the nail polish slip into the exposed skin on her thumb. She doesn't remember any of what Laney said after that because she was too busy cleaning up her nails. Nina, the nurse calls, Nina we are ready for you. She was back in the waiting room. Sorry, she says and stands up.

Inside of the hospital, the walls are bare and the hallways are bland. Nina and the nurse walk down the narrow halls, like a guard taking a prisoner to her cell. You'll be right here, make yourself comfortable Doctor Denver will be right in, the nurse says as they shut the door behind them. She hops up on the table and kicks her legs. She is afraid to move too much or the crinkle of the sanitary paper below her will winkle and rip. She stares at the doorknob, looking for any sign of rotation. She became very aware of what to do with her hands. She modified her position every few seconds, arms crossed, hands at side, hands grasping each other in her lap. Then the door opens and Doctor Denver slips in. He sits on the rolling chair and wheels closer to her. The Doctor can see how anxious she is, and he knows there is something wrong. Ok, just a few questions before we begin, how does that sound Nina? She nodded her head and slowly creeps out of her cocoon she created with her covering hands. I have to ask, have you been eating healthy and exercising? She hasn't stepped foot in a gym since high school, but thanks to her good metabolism- the one good thing her mother has gifted her- she hardly ever puts on weight. Despite her late-night binges of junk food, she remains underweight. Yep, she says, she doesn't include detail or enthusiasm because she knows the doctor would question her. The doctor takes a deep breath, and stares at the computer ahead of him, she can see his discomfort in the sweat which is embedded into the valleys of the wrinkles on his forehead. The doctor lets out a breath, have you been feeling depressed lately? She has been depressed ever since last fall. She looks out of the small window in the corner of her room, it is raining now, like it was that night. I miss Laney, she blurted. The doctor closes his eyes for a second, mostly out of discomfort about what to say next. She had seen Doctor Denver last fall following the event. Then he finally delivers the usual line used during these circumstances, It's natural to feel that way. The line falls out of his mouth and shatters on the floor, the same way it did when he told a husband that his wife didn't make it through the labor. The same way it did when he told the 11-year-old piano prodigy that their hand was paralyzed and they could no longer play. The same way it did last fall when he saw her after the event. That happened around this time last year, right? How are you holding up? She didn't want to tell him that it was the one year  anniversary of the event, partly because she knew deep down he doesn't care, he's a doctor and he sees that stuff every day, but also because she doesn't want to say it out loud. She feels that if she doesn't let the words out into reality then they won't be true, she keeps the truth deep inside her, cradled up next to her heart. Yeah, I guess it is, she says sounding surprised. This might be hard to talk about you, but my professional advice is that you talk to somebody about this. Have you heard of seasonal depression? She nods. I can see that you are struggling with Laney's death, and that's natural, but I'm sure she'd want you to take care of yourself. Here is the number of a psychologist I think you should talk to. He scribbles down a name and number onto his notepad and rips it out. She takes it.

  The air was thick, the room was filled with almost a fog-like dew of discomfort. He didn't bring the event up after that. The doctor carried on with the appointment checking all the required boxes and asking all the required questions. After an hour she was back where she started, back in the elevator. She takes a deep breath as the doors closed, leaving her alone. She feels relieved that somebody is finally validating her feelings, and with that, the pain feels a bit more bearable. She walks out the double doors leading to the crisp air of October, ambulances pass, pulling into the hospital, blowing auburn leaves to her feet. The scene is familiar, the sound of the sirens send her into memory, its last fall. She was driving down a dark street, just about 5 minutes from Laney's dorm. It was windy and raining that night, enough so that when she drove autumn leaves plastered her wet windshield. The flash of lights lit up her face and her car, there was an ambulance, two cop cars, and a firetruck, all breaking through the wind. They drove past her car and pulled into the college drive. Nina's heart began to beat faster, she kept driving and followed behind. That's when she saw the accident, just one car looking mostly intact, laying on the side of the road. She drove slowly past the accident just to see what was happening. The wind blew up a grocery bag onto her windshield, causing her to pull over to the side of the road to remove it. She gets a better look at the accident and sees that there is a person at the front of the car. She notices the auburn hair and runs over to the accident. What happened here? She says out of breath, still unsure if it was Laney or not. A student was walking back to her dorm and the breaks of the car went out, hitting her on the side of the road, it's terrible, said the officer. She looks over at the scene and she sees her face. Its Laney, and laying around her head, like a halo, lay boxes of candy cigarettes. Laney must have gone to get the candy after the phone call they had about them. The scene is so vivid in her memory, she forces herself out of the memory and she stands in front of the hospital, sobbing into her hands. 

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