by C.L. Thomas
Flash fiction from prompt, “You’re going to be late.”
|He felt trapped in that moment, with those last few words.
"You're going to be late."
She hadn't had time to respond. Just those words spoken in anger and then the sound of his world ending.
He came back to the present, looking down into the styrofoam cup he held. Coffee, already cold and untasted. After looking around for a table, he couldn't bring himself to put it down. He didn't drink coffee and wasn't sure why he had accepted it. But when the nurse handed it to him he had taken responsibility for it automatically, just as he had their many forms and questions.
He shifted in the waiting room chair, its padding worn down to nothing by countless patients and anxious family members. The anger he had felt now seemed so petty. The appointment hadn't been that important. Five hours in that chair had given him five hours to consider. She had already felt guilty. Could he have set her mind at ease? Could she have seen the danger sooner?
It was like his mind was trying to pick apart and construct a timeline of those moments before the line went dead. Had she seen the other car coming? He was almost certain he had heard her gasp just a split second before an explosion of sound had forced him to pull the phone away from his ear. What had he missed in that moment? Had she called out?
His name was being called. He stood.
"Would you like to come this way?" The surgeon, still in scrubs held a door open. From behind him a woman stepped forward wearing business attire and a sincere look and plucked the coffee from his hand.