The Scare

Lydia picked up a random magazine out of the wicker basket sitting in the corner of the gloomy doctor’s office as she walked through the doors. She glanced in the two-way mirror separating the nurses’ station from the visitors’ area. She could barely recognize herself. There were bags under her tired looking eyes and the usually bright brown hue was now almost black. Her high cheekbones seemed too pronounced from all the weight she’s lost from the constant vomiting and her bouncy curls, which not too long ago, used to be a glossy raven black, seemed to be losing the battle with the hair dye and were now a cross between dull gray and a black-brownish hue. She rapidly averted her eyes from that pitiful sight and plopped down heavily in the nearest wobbly and uncomfortably stiff waiting room chair, the magazine seemingly already forgotten on her lap.

Staring at the wall with unseeing eyes, she leafed through the pages without bothering to actually look down at the words and images printed on them. She unconsciously observed that the wall right in front of her was painted a dull and dreadful mauve color. She briefly wondered if that was the original color or if maybe it had faded away to that particular shade with the years. She’d been coming to the same GP at this same location for over 20 years and yet she couldn’t remember the original color of the wall. Who cares?! But mauve? Really? Why would anyone paint a wall in that Godawful color?!

It doesn’t matter! Forget about the color, forget about the damn wall! Maybe it was time to switch doctors. She just turned 52 which means that Doctor Stevenson must be at least pushing 60, maybe even 70! Can she trust the diagnosis of a seventy year old man?! She bowed her head and tried to focus on the pages but it was no use. She nervously tucked a lock of the unruly curls that had managed to escape her messy ponytail behind her left ear, but they sprang loose again as soon as her fingers let go of the strand. How much longer did she have to wait for the doctor? Her appointment was at 2:00 PM and it was already a quarter past. Why did the doctor ask to see her? Why didn’t he just have the nurse give her the results of the tests over the phone like he usually does? I just know it’s bad news, doctors only ask you to come in for the results when it’s bad news. But what could it be? An ulcer? A contagious virus? Oh, God, please don’t let it be a tumor!

“Lydia Becker, room 3!” The voice from the speakers above resonated loudly making Lydia jump from her seat. The magazine dropped unnoticed to the floor. She tucked the errand strand behind her ear again as she walked briskly towards the door marked with a big black number 3 sticker that seemed to be peeling at the edges. When she reached the door she froze for a second, her hand reached tentatively for the doorknob and when she grabbed the knob, she noticed that her hand was trembling slightly. She took a deep breath to compose herself, resolutely turned the knob and pushed through the door. Doctor Stevenson was sitting at his desk leafing through some papers in a yellow file folder. Lydia was afraid to even look at it, certain it contained her death sentence. Instead she slumped down into the only other chair in the cramped office. It was just as wobbly and uncomfortable as the one in the waiting room. She focused on the wall to her right, then to the one on her left, while nervously fingering the top button of her blouse, almost prying it open, her gaze fluttering everywhere except on the damning file resting just inches in front of her.

At least these walls were painted an acceptable soft light blue. She would hate to hear that she only had months to live in an ugly mauve colored room! That’s it, she was definitely becoming delusional, maybe it was the tumor already eating away through her stomach, up her spinal cord all the way to her brain. She couldn’t take it any longer, she’d been sitting there silently for at least a minute and Doctor Stevenson hadn’t even offered a hello or acknowledged her presence. He was just passively sitting there, engrossed in whatever was in that file, reading glasses perched precariously on his slightly crooked nose. He must have been quite a looker in his youth, except for his graying temples and a few spider-web lines around his green eyes, he still had that chiseled look most women swoon over. At the moment however, the doctor’s good looks were the furthest thing on her mind.

“Ehem, ehm, ehm.” Lydia coughed in her hand, hoping to get the doctor’s attention. Doctor Stevenson looked up and slammed the file shut with a finality that seemed to bore straight through Lydia’s ailing stomach; the reason why she was sitting on an uncomfortable wobbly chair in a baby blue colored office. It all started a few months ago with severe nausea. As soon as she woke up, her stomach would start convulsing and she had to make a mad dash for the toilet. And this would go on for the entire day. It got so bad that she now leaves a wastebasket next to her bed at all times just in case. She simply can’t seem to keep any food down unless it’s bland mashed potatoes or applesauce; something she just discovered last week. She’s lost at least 10 pounds and can barely get up the energy to get out of bed, let alone go to work. At first she thought it was just a bug or something she ate, but after two months with no change in her condition she decided to go to the doctor and have some blood-work done.

And now here she was, sitting in front of the man who held her destiny in the inconsequential looking yellow file in front of him. “Hi Lydia, how are you feeling today. I have the results of your tests right here.” As he spoke, he rested the palms of both of his hands lightly on the file. Lydia tried to make eye contact with the doctor but she couldn’t lift her gaze from the hands resting nonchalantly on her fate. “I-I’m okay, I guess but my stomach is still upset, none of the over the counter medications seem to be working.” Lydia finally lifted her head up long enough to give the doctor her bravest smile but which looked more like a lopsided half grin, before lowering her gaze back to the file. “Well my dear Lydia, the good news is that we now definitely know what’s wrong with you.” Lydia looked up and caught doctor Stevenson grinning from ear to ear as he took off his reading glasses and placed them gently on top of the damning file. That’s good news? Thought Lydia. The fact that he knows she has a tumor is good news?! She inhaled deeply, sat up straighter in the uncomfortable chair and squared her shoulders preparing herself for whatever the doctor would say next. She held both fists squeezed tightly in her lap, her nails digging into the fleshy part of her palms. “So, if that’s the good news…what’s the bad news?” She asked in a strangled voice just barely above a whisper.

“I wouldn’t call it bad news exactly Lydia. I guess it depends on how you look at it.” He was still grinning at her and his callous  attitude started to irritate her. “What the hell does that mean?! How can a tumor ever not be bad news?!” Lydia exploded. “A tumor?” Repeated doctor Stevenson bewildered. “Yes!” Lydia jumped up from the chair and started pacing in front of the desk. “How can you just sit there with that stupid grin on your face and tell me a tumor isn’t necessarily bad news?!” Doctor Stevenson just looked at her and suddenly burst out laughing. “Who said anything about a tumor?! You don’t have a tumor Lydia…you are pregnant!”

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