It is lovely to welcome back mmpearson with her take on this month’s writing prompt of ‘waiting for news’. This piece drew me in and creates a distinct empathy with the narrator. Enjoy!
February 19, 2014 at 11:08 pm
My father and I sit on institutional vinyl and stare at a beige wall. Neither of us knows what to say, and the silence crashes between us like a waterfall striking rock. My mother is under the knife. What else is there to know?
No amount of hashing over the “what ifs” will make the doctor’s hands any steadier or his methods any surer. So here we sit, in silence.
My mother is most likely lying there, on a gurney, cut open. I envision a discussion taking place above her abdomen. If I close my eyes I can see the lights blinking, machines beeping and the droll of voices surrounding her sleeping form. Life and death hang in the balance, a pendulum of fate, chance, or God.
The unknown petrifies me, but I cling to hope. My hope is like that of a small child as she waits for a favorite blankie to finish its mad swirl through the wash cycle. The child has laser-like focus on one moment in time. She yearns for the end, the point when she can clutch the blankie and run away with glee. She doesn’t care whether the dryer warms the wet fuzz to perfection, only that the blankie still exists when the washer ends its torment. My hope is similar.
I drum my feet on low-pile blue carpet and repeatedly read the variety of snacks visible in the vending machine that stands like a sentinel in the corner. I glance back at my father. He’s perched upright, staring through the wall, lost in his own reflections. His worry penetrates me. I look away and ease out of my chair to pace the hallway.
Time passes, though how much time, I don’t know. I do know that I have completed thirty-two laps when a “fwapping” noise catches my attention. I spot a person exiting a door down the hall.
Sea green scrubs, a dangling surgical mask, shoe covers – yes, I think this could be the one. Waves of numbness course through me.
I study the doctor’s approaching gait, trying to piece together the puzzle before he arrives. His stride is stiff, but his head is high and he is looking at me – a good sign perhaps. As he draws nearer, I stare into his eyes, hoping to find answers there.
I feel my father‘s presence join me, but I don’t glance at him. I might miss a tell-tale sign from the doctor.
I catch the tip of a smile, maybe? Yes, a half-smile. It tickles my hopes.
The doctor is standing in front of me and my father. His mouth is forming words. I’m suddenly not sure I can breathe, much less hear, but I strain to focus anyway.
As quick as a puff of wind, the doctor’s words are done. I feel my father’s arm around my side, and I don’t have to look at him to see the relief etched on his face. The same relief is etched on mine.