Nadine sits before a computer screen, her lipstick red as blood. Her parted lips are glistening as she carefully transcribes the notes the doctor recorded, the discovery, the disease, the futile search for antidotes. The telephone rings from time to time. Nadine answers then listens to another worried voice on the line, questioning. She has heard these questions since the beginning of the time she began her time here in the waiting room. She knows the stories, the whys and wherefores, the fits and starts, the hope, always the hope. The underlining question, is there a cure. A cure for the war a body fights against itself. If not a cure, how much time, a year, more? Nadine knows the answers to the question the callers are calling for, but she is not allowed a voice, has not a choice, except to say, "I'll be sure to pass this along to the doctor. He'll get back to you soon as he can, I'm sure."
I sit waiting in the waiting room. I hold my appointment card gingerly, as if I'm holding a ticket to my doom. I am not alone but no one speaks to anyone else in this room. It's so quiet I hear the drone of a fly as it flies high near the ceiling. A fly so fat it must be pregnant. It slowly circles the air, a big black blimp, with no apparent intent except to circle once again to circle another circle. I pretend to be engrossed in the pages of a magazine, Time. It's cover red, I notice it. Red again.
"The doctor will see you now," I hear Nadine as she calls.
She opens a door to a corridor, "He's just down the hall. First office, left."
I stand and try my best to look unafraid. I find the doctor sitting at his desk. On the desk are stacks for files. The files contain the results of tests. One of the files summarizes me, my struggle with my disease, my medical history.
"Sit down, please. How are you feeling today?"
"Alright, I guess." I try a smile. "But I'm guessing I'll know better in a little while."
"Yes, yes." he says as he tries his best to blunt the results. The results I'm sure I know. Yet something, a will, something fights, won't let go. Not yet, until the doctor confirms.
"I wish I had better news," I brace myself as the doctor's words continue, "but you died today"
"What? What did you say?"
The doctor morphs into my mom, "I didn't know how else to tell you, son."
"Mom, mom?" What's going on? The doctor's office disappears as my mind stops like a mechanical clock with broken gears. What's going on, I want to say, but my mind is drifting, drifting away.
I become a dust mote, floating on air. I move from shadow to light without a thought of what's become who I was, of where I am, or what was done, or undone. Shadow to light, black to white, time slows until it is not. From somewhere comes a buzz, as the largest mouth, a maul, swallows the mote I now recognize as me. Then all becomes black.
The blackness has a sound, a droning that drones on and on. Above, below, front, back, all around I am encased in droning sound. I look out and find I am circling the waiting room.
Nadine is still sitting in her chair, but looking beyond her computer screen, somehow she finds me where I'm carried within this bundle that drones.
"What difference does it make," she asks, "if you died? You were given five ways to experience life. I know your story, not so different from anyone really, than those others who drone on and on, those who wait in the waiting room. I've entered your details into our database, and am ready to close your case. Except for one item under experience. Can you tell me, did you learn anything? No or Yes?"
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