Emily looked around and decided she didn’t belong in that waiting room. It was small, suffocating with walls painted pink, like the color of a healthy, newborn baby. 5 metal chairs covered with rough, grey cloth were pushed together. There were two other women waiting with their children. The kids were running around, screaming like sirens. Their parents were reading magazines and must have been too engrossed in the latest, breaking story about the newest and best celebrity diet to take notice. “Yeah, getting pregnant over and over again is going to solve your diet problems,” Emily deemed to no one but herself. She was feeling more and more that her decision was a good one.
Her head hurt. She massaged her temples and tried calling Jordan again on his cell. “You’ve reached Jordan and I’m away from my…” Emily hung up and sighed. She really hoped he would show up soon. It was chilly and there were no windows in the waiting room. Outside, the sun was shining brightly. Classes were starting. Lunches were ending. Friends were chatting. Business deals were closing. But inside, Emily sat, seconds droning past. Her leg bounced up and down, down and up. Her hands were clammy.
“Emily…” The nurse called her name. She recognized it was her name but looked around to see if any of the other women moved toward the nurse. “That’s me,” Emily mumbled to the nurse. “Well then, come on honey. Time ain’t something we got a lot of round here.” The nurse was older and had worked in the clinic for 21 years. She saw girls like Emily every day.
“Riiight in here. Slide on this dressing gown. The doctor will be in shortly,” the nurse announced and left Emily to undress.
After another waiting period, the doctor came in. She was in her mid-thirties, curly black hair and she spoke with the slightest hint of a Southern belle accent. She looked like she might have been runner up in the Miss Georgia Peach Pageant. “What a goddamn peach. Working at a non-profit when she was pretty enough to have just married rich,” Emily thought. The doctor did all the necessary vital checks and had all of the necessary conversations before getting started. “You’re going to be under local anesthesia, as we discussed before. So, while you’ll be awake, you won’t feel a thing.” And the beauty queen was right. During the procedure, Emily didn’t feel a thing. But she did hear a thing. Or two. Or three…even over the soft classical music that played from the small, black radio sitting on the highest shelf. She wished they would play some loud rock and roll. Maybe even some metal. Anything to block out the noise.
Emily couldn’t stop thinking about her first childhood dog, Goliath. Goliath was hit by a car when she was 7 years old. “What’s wrong, momma?” Emily asked her mom when she got home from pre-school one day. “Honey, he died. Goliath, he died!” her mother sobbed. “ He was hit by a car and the mother fucker didn’t stop to check on him. Oh, I’m sorry. Come here, sweetheart.” Her mother continued to cry on Emily’s tiny shoulder. Unfortunately, Goliath didn’t go live with a family with a bigger back yard like her friend Brian’s dog did. They got a new dog, a couple weeks later, and named it Sushi. That’s what Emily thought about while she listened to a vacuum suck out the five week old fetus inside of her.
After the procedure, she was taken to a quiet room with a beachy theme where she was told she should wait and be comfortable. The room was decorated with light blue walls and seashell wallpaper. “A vacation room,” Emily thought. She felt woozy and liked how the room was warm, like a bath or like a summer day at the beach. Emily smiled to herself at the thought. The nurse gave her a blanket, pink and soft like cotton candy, and Emily sat in the recliner and reclined. The one other woman in the room with her was sleeping and Emily thought it for the best because she didn’t feel like talking.
When Emily first decided to have the procedure, the nurse explained to her that she had to make arrangements to get home from the clinic. “You’re not going to be able to drive yourself home. You have someone that’ll take you home?” Emily replied, “Yes, my boyfriend will do it. He’s going to bring me and stay until we’re done.” After the procedure, the nurse quietly asked Emily again, “Honey, you have someone that’s going to pick you up? Should we call a cab?” Emily looked at her, weeks of worry and anxiety finally eased by strong sedatives, “He’s coming, I swear. He always runs late. Please just let me rest a little longer.” The nurse obliged.
There was a large seashell decorating the side table. Emily picked up the shell and held it to her ear and listened to the ocean.
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