No More Waiting.

Kim walked into the diminutive waiting room with her Kate Spade bag clutched under her arm. I can do it this time. She tucked a loose strand of blond hair behind her ear, replacing it with the other strays as she approached the sign-in desk.

“Hi,” she smiled and ducked her head, “I’m Kim Green. I have an appointment at 2:15 p.m. I’m a bit late, I know.”

The clerk rolled her eyes. “You’ve been here before. Walked out on grief counseling, right?”

“Yes,” Kim said, clearing her throat. “Yes, that’s right.”

“Have a seat,” the clerk huffed. “I’ll call you soon.”

Kim sat next to a man cleaning his glasses. He had on khakis that were far too short and a plaid button-down. She caught herself snickering at the sight of him. She stopped. Be kind, Kim.

She picked up a magazine from the stack next to her and pretended to read it so that she wouldn’t have to make eye contact with anyone. Her pulse quickened with each minute that passed sitting in that chair. The walls shrank and expanded with each inhale and exhale. Sweat dribbled down her forehead. The red exit sign called to her.

But she didn’t leave. Instead, she reached in her bag and pulled out sanitizer, a stick of gum, and a photo of her and her mom. She sanitized her hands because God knows what kind of dirty freak had his hands on the magazine last. She looked back to her neighbor, now cleaning his phone. What’s his deal? OCD? Nerves? She shook her head, unwrapped her gum, and folded it neatly into her mouth.

Tears scalded her eyes when she looked at the photo. It was the last picture taken before her mom’s sudden death. Kim and her mom were shoulder to shoulder in the photo. Bright smiles and blissful ignorance filled their faces.

She was hit by a drunk driver six years ago, just two days after the photo was taken. Kim thought she could handle her death just like she handled everything else: on her own with grace. She couldn’t. She spent the last six years waiting for the pain to pass, waiting for her mind to heal. She hardly recognized the girl next to her mom anymore.

A trashcan was nowhere to be found, so she balled up the wrapper and put it back in her bag. When she did, her fingers grazed smooth glass. Kim gasped. She knew exactly what it was; it was a half-empty bottle of vodka from the previous night. I must’ve forgotten to throw it away.

She closed her eyes remembering the telephone pole, touched the bruise on her face knowing how lucky she was. What if that pole had been a car with someone’s mother in it? What if I was going faster? She shuddered at the thought.

“Kim?” the clerk called. “The therapist is ready for you.”

Kim stood and pulled the bottle from her bag. “Do you have a trashcan back there?” she asked, her mouth molded into the shape of determination.

The clerk looked up, un-phased by the vodka Kim was holding. “Sure. I can take that, Hun,” she charmed. “If you’re ready.”

Kim looked at the bottle one last time before handing it to her. “I’m definitely ready.”

 

Photo courtesy of Pexels

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14 thoughts on “No More Waiting.

  1. Kim’s fidgets and her inspection of the other people in the waiting room felt true. I liked the apathy of the clerk. It seems like she’d be used to it all after working there. The clerk announcing what Kim had done out loud for the room to hear didn’t seem true. Maybe Kim could go into a flashback of the last time she’d been there to flush that info out? The paragraph that starts “She was hit by a drunk driver…” is telling. Having Kim see something in the office that reminded her of when she found out about the accident might be one way to show and not tell.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So much happened in such a short space, and it didn’t feel rushed. Impressive. I would agree with earlier comments about the clerk. But…the kindness she showed at the end had a ring of reality. I could see someone who’s having a bad day be a bit snippy, and then see the bottle and regain her equilibrium. So maybe there’s something there…a kindness of strangers thing? Seriously well done though. It made me want to dive in and explore it more.

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  3. I liked all of the characters mannerisms and her denial of her own quirks like the sanitizer. The clerk seemed out of place or her manner odd for what I was imagining as an upscale place, nightmare a nitpick really. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As usual, you’ve got a solid, mostly consistent story here. Just a couple details are jarring: Like Nate, I don’t think the clerk announcing her counseling status to the room is realistic (or appropriate, it would probably get him fired). I do love how you have Kim literally judging someone else for what she’s doing – I want to see you try playing with an unreliable narrator sometime. And I’m going to pick on your visuals because that’s what I do: airplane bottles don’t get you drunk and aren’t glass, but a fifth doesn’t fit in a Kate Spade bag you can tuck under your arm. I look like a total goober when I write because I try out a lot of the poses I put my characters through, but it’s worth it for the few moments I find out that something’s impossible and I would have lost reader credibility.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The attention to the details, the main character’s pettiness in judging others, the descriptions of appearances and habits, all went towards building a very believable scenario. I agree with Nate that the receptionist rolling her eyes and announcing what happened on the previous visit felt jarring. And did you mean “cooed” rather than “charmed” at the end? The contrast between the receptionist’s quite petulant behaviour when Kim arrived, and her overly solicitous behaviour when she took the vodka bottle made her feel a little contrived. The “She was hit by a drunk driver…” scene also stood out for me. If you don’t want to do that as a flashback, you can always describe her welling anger at the drunk driver and relate it to her unresolved issues (the reason for her being at the therapist’s office). This was a well paced and topical piece. I’m not usually a fan of happy endings in narratives, but you did a good job of making this hopeful and determined without being sappy.

    Liked by 1 person

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