Adhering to the established pattern, I sat in a chair that maximized my distance from the other women in the waiting room. Our gazes crisscrossed like the lasers that protect state secrets in spy movies. A little piece of the chartreuse paint had chipped off the wall, revealing a dingy pastel pink, and I stared at it because no one else was.
One woman tapped her foot, and another bit her nails, but their rhythms were out of sync, and I couldn’t take it. I picked up one of the magazines from the table beside me. It was a year old, but I kind of liked that – like the pastel pink, it was an artifact, a reminder that this moment, too, would soon be a part of history. I made eye contact, finally, with the woman on the magazine’s cover and opened it to the first page.
A phone rang. Loudly.
The women whipped their heads around, and, as if our patriot spy had fallen into a booby trap, all of the lasers pointed at me. They seared into my back and onto my face. Shit. I reached down to silence my phone, but it wasn’t where I usually kept it. I fumbled around my thick winter coat. I never leave this thing on. Who even keeps their ringer on anymore? The brightness of the screen shocked my eyes as I brought it out of my pocket. I must have forgotten to turn off the ringer after the doctor called with the test results.
My face was still hot from embarrassment when a nurse walked into the waiting room and called my first name. She led me into a sterile white hallway. “Don’t worry,” she said, “it’s nothing like those awful pictures that those wack jobs hold up outside.”
Laura Michael is a rising senior in Yale College. She’s a Statistics and Data Science major but loves to write in her free time. Each week, she shares her work with her friends through her newsletter, “Weekly Themes.” You can subscribe at https://tinyletter.com/Weekly_Themes.