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The Waiting Room
It was October. The air was crisp, the trees were bare, and I was standing outside the door. I didn’t want to go inside and face the inevitable. I knew the answer to my question, so why was I here? I couldn’t handle someone else telling me, because then it’s out. It would be that much more real. I can’t hide it forever though; it’s only a matter of months until people will know. I turned around and walked back to my car. Maybe I’m not sure. Maybe it is a good idea to get it confirmed. I turned back around toward the door.
Right when I opened the door, I knew I made a mistake. There were pale gray walls with stupid posters reading “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” and “Take care of your body and it will take care of you.” The room smelt like mothballs and sickness, which made my head hurt even more. The seats looked uncomfortable, as did the people sitting in them.
The receptionist had a hard look. Her wrinkled face did not make her look any more approachable. She was in her mid-fifties maybe, and her hair was going gray. She wore small glasses that sat on her long, pointed nose. The way she shuffled through papers made her look annoyed and unfriendly. She clearly did not want to be here. I can relate.
“What’re you here for?” she asked me.
“I’m… Uh…” I couldn’t let the words out. I couldn’t even look at her. “I’m here to…”
“Oh. You’re one of them,” she said. One of them? She was already judging me. “Sign in, fill this out, and take a seat.”
I took the clipboard that she held in her hand and went to sit down. I looked at the clock: Four thirty-six. Sitting across from me was an old man in blue sweatpants. His hands were folded in his lap, his head tilted back so much that he was practically facing the ceiling. He was asleep, snoring in a rhythmic pattern while the clock in the background kept his beat. I turned to look at the receptionist. She was staring at me. I quickly looked down at the papers she had handed me and started filling it out. Name: Nicole Torres. Age: 19. The information was easy to fill out until I got to the middle. Social security number? Family medical history? I don’t know any of this. I glanced back at my previous answers. My handwriting was scribbles, curling and bending at awkward points of my letters. I wondered if they would be able to read it.
The woman sitting next to me was reading a magazine, flipping the pages loudly with her fingers. She was chewing bubble gum like a cow, slapping it between her teeth. Her child was on the floor stacking blocks, one on top of the other. He had a goofy grin on his face that would appear each time he successfully stacked another block.
I watched the clock like a hawk. It was only four forty-one. I tried to work on the rest of my paperwork. There were so many question that I just couldn’t answer. The man was still snoring, and the little boy was giggling. I looked up at the receptionist; she was staring again. Her eyes fell a little lower and then back at me. I glanced down to see what she was looking at, and I realized I was tapping my pen. I quickly stopped.
The kid was getting more obnoxious. I watched him stack his blocks and knock them down. His hair was a light brown, and he looked just like his mother. I don’t understand how a kid could look so much like his or her parent at such a young age. I could just picture my own kid. It would probably have dirty blond hair just like mine. Maybe it would even have my blue eyes. It definitely wouldn’t look like me right when it comes out. It’s all slimy and bloody, and it cries nonstop. How could someone think that’s cute?
That man needs to stop snoring.
The kid was laughing now; his loud cackle shot right through my ears. He stood up and ran in a circle around the tower of blocks he stacked. The mother sat there like nothing was wrong, flipping the pages of her magazine. It was four forty-five and the second hand was moving slowly. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The man was snoring louder now, irregularly. I looked at the receptionist. She was staring. I need to get out of here. The mother of the boy was chomping on her gum, snapping bubbles, and reading her magazine. The boy himself was clapping the blocks together, creating a high-pitched sound. Clink, clank. Clink, clank. His laugh was getting even more unbearable. I looked down at the paper. I was tapping my pen again. The old man was getting louder and louder. The woman next to me flipped the pages more often. Flip…flip. The kid on the floor was screaming his laugh. I looked over at the receptionist. Her eyes were staring at me. Right. At. Me. I can’t wait here any longer. Why did I have to come in? The boy was running around the floor, and the clock ticked slowly after. Tick, tock. Tick, tock! TICK, TOCK! Snoring and flipping. Screaming and snapping. Flipping and clanking. Laughing and snoring. TICK, TOCK! TICK, TOCK! TICK –
“Nicole Torres?” The woman next to me stopped flipping pages and held her gum in place. Her child came to a stop and sat down quietly. The old man woke up and sat up straight. The receptionist looked at the door where a woman was standing, waiting for someone to reply. I stood up. “The doctor is ready to see you.”