Waiting Room

She pets his hand, then holds it. And while he stares straight ahead, she measures her tiny hand against his big one.

Right now, I’m in a hospital waiting room. My mother-in-law sits to my right, waiting on a routine visit. And at the moment, she’s hypnotized by the corner television—which is set to HGTV.

The TV-host, a woman in a pink tool-belt, explains how to create vaulted ceilings in a bathroom, using only a sledgehammer. My mother-in-law asks if I think her bathroom needs vaulted ceilings.

I do not.

The couple to my left is in their thirties. He looks like he works hard for a living—scuffed jeans and boots, weathered skin. The woman beside him, a strawberry-blonde, bites her fingernails.

“It’s cold in here,” she’s saying.

“Yep,” he answers, with a blank face.

She pets his hand, then holds it. And while he stares straight ahead, she measures her tiny hand against his big one.

“Are you scared?” she asks.

He shrugs, eyes on the television.

On TV, they’re using bottle caps for a kitchen backsplash instead of tile. The TV host is quite excited about this.

My mother-in-law taps my shoulder. “I want one of those backsplashes.”

Sure thing.

The woman leans her head on the man’s shoulder. He’s gazing at the television, deep in thought. Maybe he wants a bottle-cap backsplash, too.

The woman says, “I’ve been praying the doctor can just cut it all out, while he’s in there, I mean, every bit.”

The unblinking man lets out a long sigh. He’s in no mood to chat. So, she tucks herself under his arm and watches television.

The TV-host is now discussing the utmost importance of interior color schemes for true spiritual happiness.

Then, the nurse calls the man’s name.

He stands up, removes his ball-cap. His hair is a mess. He hands the cap to the woman and takes a breath. “I gotta go, baby.”

She nods.

When they embrace, she doesn’t see how tight he’s closing his eyes—he looks like a boy when he holds her. Then, he walks through the double doors. When he’s gone, she collapses in her chair and smells his hat.

“Area rugs,” says the loud-voiced TV-host. “The most important thing in my life, is a space to display area rugs, I’m obsessed with my…”

The woman stands and shuts off the television. She puts the cap over her head, pulls it tight over her eyes, then walks outside, face in her hands.

God. Let that doctor cut it all out, while he’s in there.

Every bit of it.

1 comment

  1. Jack Helser - April 23, 2016 8:30 pm

    Agreed, Sean. Cut it all out. Touching piece. Jack


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