Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Waiting Room

Amy Walden could not explain what it was that followed her, only that she was powerless against it. Its presence was undeniable; here in this waiting room and within those that waited. She sensed this place had not suffered forever—only since her arrival. The breath of yesterday had been choked from it. The room exuded bleakness, as if the walls had been painted in reverse; the brush swallowing color and life with every stroke.

She was simply another dark decoration, matching the motif perfectly. Although the consequences had been unintended they were no less inevitable. Everything and everyone Amy Walden touched withered and died. She and the room were one, beaten and broken left to drown in their own sterility while tones of nothingness screeched a chorus of lament.

Amy had been in his care for more than two years. During that time there had been no marked improvement in her condition, but yet his invitation remained open. Dr. Poneros was careful never to claim he could cure her, only that he understood and shared in her misery, and what a wretched existence it was. There was no refuge from the ubiquitous voices that streaked from their hiding places stabbing at the very core of her soul.

To this point Amy had refused their invitation, but perhaps today was made for dance. Although the performance would be anticlimactic it was what the voices demanded. If she gave them what they wanted would they not allow a moments rest?

In something resembling more of a guttural growl than voice, she shrieked.

“Your fucking decorator should be fired!”

She ignored the terse glances of other patients who waited; especially the woman scowling in her direction as she covered her young child’s ears. Without further outburst Amy fished around in her purse momentarily before rising to her feet. In a calm manner she raised her arms overhead and twirled like a ballerina. Open slashes on her wrists lay wide and deep, but she continued to twirl pausing only long enough to render a disconcerting laugh. Only she found the splashes of color against the white pallet pleasing. Amy continued this dance of forfeiture until the nurses rushed to her aid.

That was all she could recall of the disturbance even though it had transpired only hours ago. Dr. Poneros had quickly administered another syringe full of Haldol before bandaging her wrists and placing her in a padded room. If he had spoken to her at all the words were insignificant, but she had remembered the sting of the injection. The doctor claimed they were necessary, but for what she was unsure. The drugs did nothing to inhibit the voices and only incapacitated her so that fleeing was not an option.

Although she could no longer feel the warmth of tears on her cheeks she could hear them as they dripped steadily to the floor. Despite the terrible walls that were required to separate her from the world, she cried out in desperation.

Dr. Poneros smoothed the wrinkles in his lab coat before casually grabbing another patient’s chart, though his nurse stared indignantly at him.

“Dr., aren’t you going to do anything more for Amy?”

He smiled briefly.

“What would you have me to do? She made the decision to come to me and I’ve accepted her. What else is there more to say? Can’t you see there’s a waiting room full of prospective patients? Let’s not lose our objective, nurse. If you have cause to think otherwise, remember that I’m in charge here.”

The receptionist hesitantly poked her head through the door.

“Dr., there’s someone here to see you.”

With a heavy sigh, he asked. “Who is it, now?”

“It’s Dr. Soter.”

He tossed the chart back into the bin and rolled his eyes.

“I don’t suppose I have much of a choice do I? Send him in.”

As the familiar face entered the room Dr. Poneros bristled.

“To what do I owe this unscheduled visit?”

“I’m here to see Amy Walden.”

Through clenched teeth Dr. Poneros responded quickly.

“Amy’s my patient. What do you want with her?”

“She called for me, of course. She has tired of your wicked games and wishes a second opinion.”

Dr. Soter picked up Amy’s chart and reviewed the history for several moments. Although he was troubled at what he saw, he was no stranger to hope. He frowned slightly before drawing near his adversary.

“Dr. Poneros, it’s again obvious why so many years ago I cut you from my team. You’re a renegade and the world would be a far better place without you. Yet we both know that’s not possible and sadly you still serve a need for many, but even you cannot deny her this request. Step aside, and let me see her.”

The heavy door squeaked in protest as it was opened and a stream of light entered the room. Huddled in the corner Amy shuddered in fear, anticipating another injection. The doctor knelt beside her and without introduction began to speak.

“Right now I know you’re suffering intensely and are consumed only with escape. Yet the offer here for escape comes at a very high price; the door you open may bring another lion down upon you.

Amy, give me your hand.”

She placed her hands beneath her legs and adamantly shook her head from side to side.

“You don’t know what you’re asking me to do, Dr.”

He looked at her with compassion filled eyes before extending his hand once again.

“Amy, I know all about your precious child and how terrible it must feel to believe you caused his death. When you held him in your arms and his crying finally stopped, but then his tiny chest failed to rise. I know what a burden that must be, but my dearest Amy, you were not the cause of his death. In fact your love sustained him for as long as he clung to life. That loss, as great as it was, must remain in the past. As you can see I have no fear of you. In my sight you are but a gentle lamb. Prove to yourself that nothing will happen and place your hand in mine.”

Moments later Dr. Poneros could do little but glare as the intruder emerged carried Amy in his arms. It was never more evident that this man represented everything he was not.

“I will be caring for Amy Walden from this day forward. Strike her name from your registry and I will gladly add her to mine.”


paisley said...

you just keep getting better... this was amazing... having just escaped a padded cell myself,, i know how grateful i would have been to see my dr instead of the monsters employed by that hospital.....

loved it.....

Anonymous said...

OK Dan, I warned you about making me cry...especially at work.. . this is so embarrasing.

Great story, as always. Keep up the super fiction. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!!!!!

Jo A. T.B. said...

If we could all only find that perfect doctor. One who believes in us for the true ailments we're suffering. You write so well Dan, and I enjoy reading your work! A find write as usual!

Peggi Habets said...

I read this story after reading your later post about the significance of the doctor's names and I think that makes a big difference. When Dr. Soter showed up, I actually felt relief. His power comes in believing in the basic goodness of a person.

You're lucky to have your wife as a critic. My husband is my best critic when it comes to my paintings. He is usually right on.