Waiting for lab results that could change your life.
This is WORD RESTRICTED for a 1000 word or less contest.
Prompt is "the best gift."
Please, please review with these points in mind.
THANK-YOU SO MUCH!
Angela and Jake, married six years, sat in the empty doctor’s office across from the massive desk scattered with papers.
“Looks like Brandy was here,” Jake commented, referring to their four-year-old daughter.
“No kidding.” Angela smiled slightly. The air was cool, but she felt damp under her arms and a gathering tightness in her chest. The room smelled vaguely of antiseptic.
“Nurse said he’d be right in.”
“Maybe we should leave now. No news is good news, right?”
“Don’t get scared on me now, Angela.” He took her hand and looked into her beseeching eyes. This ignited a surge of tears.
“I’m sorry,” she sniffled. “I hate this tension, and I’m so damned hot.” She reached back and fluffed her shoulder length hair. “I mean, it’s yes or no, right? Why do we have to sit here like this?”
“It’s part of a doctor’s training, Angela. They have a special course in how to prolong agony. This one obviously got an A.”
“Well, I’m just about ready to kill him.” She stood and began to pace the small room. “I mean, there’s the lump, there’s the biopsy and there’s the wait.”
“I’m sure there is a logical explanation. Sit down, Honey.”
“I can’t. I want to scream!” Angela pounded her fists on the desk, jarring the figure of a golfer on the corner. The door opened behind them.
“I’m sorry for the delay.” Dr. Mitchell walked in the room, looking more like a linebacker than an oncologist. “There was confusion on the test results and I wanted to clarify it.” He sank into his chair.
“Confusion?” Angela’s eyes flew wide. “What do you mean ‘confusion?’ Don’t these people know what they’re doing?”
“Honey, please, you’re not helping.” Jake laid a hand on Angela’s arm. She glared at him.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Palmer. I asked you to come thinking I could give you some results. The more I looked, the more I wondered if I was looking at your biopsy."
“And?” Angela stared from above him.
“And,” the doctor took in a deep breath and raised his eyes to her. “I don’t have the answer. I’m sorry. I’ve told the lab to straighten this out. First priority. Talked to the director.” He turned his hands out on the desk, as though he’d done all he could.
Angela collapsed in her chair and burst into tears. Jake looked at his wife, then at the doctor.
“Do you realize what she has been through? She’s thirty-four and we have a small child. She doesn’t know if her life is over, if our life is over. Now you have the audacity to say you talked to the head of the department as though that was all you could do?” Jake’s voice rose.
“Mr. Palmer,” another deep sigh moved the massive shoulders. “There are some things I’m not very good at and talking is one of them.” He leaned back in his chair, putting the tips of his fingers together, looking at Jake, then the sobbing Angela. “You have a point.”
Dr. Mitchell picked up the phone. “Rosemary? Reschedule my appointments for the next hour.” There was a pause. “I know, I know. Tell them it’s an emergency.” He replaced the receiver with the look of a small boy who couldn’t seem to do anything right today. “Let’s go.”
“Where are we going?”
“To the lab.”
“Where is that?”
“About a mile from here. C’mon. I’ll drive.”
“You’re taking us to the lab?” Jake's voice was incredulous as he pulled Angela from the chair. She looked up, confused.
The three trooped out the Private Entrance to the Private Elevator and arrived in basement parking. Dr. Mitchell opened the doors to a gleaming black Mercedes. Without a word, they got in and drove a mile to the back entrance of an innocuous one-story brick building.
As Dr. Mitchell rose out of the driver’s seat, Jake looked at him. “Should we come in?”
Jake helped Angela out of the back of the car, and they entered a world of white linoleum and Formica. Florescent lights hung from the ceilings and elevator music came from nowhere.
“This way.” The doctor led them down a hallway to a secretary.
“Can I help you?” The woman studied her fingernails.
“Yes, I’m Dr. Mitchell. I spoke to Dr. Patterson this morning. We’re here for the results.”
“I’m afraid he’s tied up.”
The words barely escaped her mouth when Dr. Mitchell passed by and opened the office door behind her. “I’m sorry. You can’t….”
“I can.” Dr. Mitchell’s figure filled the doorframe.
Angela and Jake heard a chair scrape as someone stood. The door closed. Muffled words filtered through, and the door opened. A diminutive man in a lab coat emerged. He brushed by them and went down the hall.
Dr. Mitchell waved for them to follow the director to a lab where they faced a young woman with red hair and freckles.
The director folded his arms. “Maggie, I would like you to meet Mrs. Angela Palmer. Mrs. Palmer would like to know if she has cancer."
Maggie stared at Angela as though looking at a ghost.
“Oh my God. I am so sorry, Mrs. Palmer.” Her hands flew around as she took in the four people frowning at her. “I, I….”
“Have you redone the tests, Maggie?” The director looked at her. Maggie gulped and tears stood in her eyes.
“Yes. Yes.” She looked down. “You don’t have cancer Mrs. Palmer. I’m sure. So sure. I’m positive.”
Dr. Mitchell picked up the results. “This looks much better.”
Angela grabbed Jake for support. “Thank-you,” she whispered. “Thank-you so much. What a gift those words are.”
“No,” Dr. Mitchell said. “The best gift is the one you gave all of us.”
Angela looked up. “I don’t understand.”
“You reminded us we are dealing with humans, not lab reports. We forget. I forgot. I suspect Angela Palmer will be remembered for what she taught us today for a long time.”