by Terran Rain
Waiting for your life or death sentence is not so easy.
|It smelled kind of sterile, but in a sickly way. The floor was smooth and recently cleaned. Every surface had streaks where disinfectant wipes scoured them of all microbes. It should have made him comfortable to be in such a clean environment, but he couldn't help but realize why such precautions were taken. Who had been in this room before him? Maybe an old man waiting to hear some bad news about his cancer screening. Perhaps a young couple anxious to be told they were expecting a baby. It helped to think about the possibilities, and the various plights and triumphs that others had faced, feared, or smiled upon in this very same room. He kicked his legs back and forth anxiously while he sat on the cot. That paper roll they used to cover the cot's surface always amused him because it never seemed adequate enough to stop any sort of bodily fluid leak from touching the "pleather" beneath. Well, he thought, it probably aided the cleaning process.
The door opened and a friendly nurse came in. He smiled and greeted her. Returning the gesture, she asked how he was and told him to stand on the scale. One hundred and forty eight pounds meant that he had in fact gained weight since his last visit, which was good. However, the seed of doubt sprouted immediately in his mind. It had to be his shoes, they were new. Or maybe because he had so many things in his pockets, or... She just asked him something. "I'm sorry, what?" He asked with his best winning smile. "I have to take your blood pressure, sleeves up," she replied. He watched the pressure gauge bolted to the wall. Mercury rose through a narrow glass tube to a point, then slowly fell. He hardly felt the device on his arm. "Your pressure is one twenty over ninety," stated the nurse. He nodded. When would the doctor come in and tell him? I know these are standard procedures, but I need to know now. "The doctor will be in shortly." "Thanks!" The door closes. Man, I can sure put on a brave face, he thought. It was true, he small talked and laughed and smiled with the nurse the whole time she was in the room. However, it was automatic and scripted. He did not feel very much like laughing and smiling, but knew there was no sense making her day miserable too. And she was very nice. The large hand on the clock drifts a few notches forward, while the man sitting on the cot tortures himself within his own mind.
The door opens halfway; the doctor is finishing a conversation with somebody half in and half out of the door. My god, he thought, he doesn't want to come in but he knows he has to. That's why he opened the door, but hesitated by continuing the conversation with his laboratory technician. He has bad news to tell me and he doesn't know how I'll take it. The doctor comes all the way inside the door ands lets it swing shut. He's looking at the clipboard, and not locking eyes with his patient. It has to be bad. "How are you feeling today Dave?" the doctor finally queried, looking up to face his patient with a thin smile. "Pretty good, how about you?" answered Dave with a cheery voice. "Good, good. So, we got your test results back. You are negative for the condition you were concerned about," spoke the doctor, "But you have a different condition entirely." Dave smiled a sad smile, and replied promptly, "Is it curable?" The Doctor looked directly into his patient's eyes and told the truth, "Yes."
Six thousand pounds of mental pressure fell to the floor in a flaming, twisted heap of senseless worry and undue concern. The doctor still looked grave until Dave stood straight up, pumped his fist, and shouted "FUCK YES!" The Doctor furrowed his brow but soon started laughing. "You know, I've never had a patient so happy to be diagnosed with that condition," he said through a relieved smile. Dave replied cheerily, "When you expect the worst, doc, you can never be disappointed. You can only be pleasantly surprised." The doctor furrowed his brow again and thought that one over. "An optimistic pessimist, huh?"