I don’t like being in a medical clinic. I don’t like doctors. There must be something I think about making a wacky amount of money for spending maybe five seconds with people that makes doctors want to act like full-strength jerks for those five seconds. My doctor’s usual goal when he swings the door to the examination room open is to turn sideways and lunge back out before it swings shut again. He has no time ever to listen to my parents, to really check anything, or to fix anything. His solutions are idiotic.
PARENTS: “She’s been hitting her head against the wall again.”
DOCTOR: “Buy this helmet.”
The old man left me in the waiting room of a Free Clinic. Besides me, there were maybe thirty other people. Some of them I’m pretty sure were hobos. The man with the oblong face stared at me a lot. I stared back. Across from me were a mother and daughter, because they looked the same. The daughter was my age.
MOTHER: Don’t pick.
DAUGHTER: But there’s got to be an advantage, picking off the crispier scabs.
MOTHER: Stop it!
DAUGHTER: See? It’s not even bleeding. It’ll heal, now.
MOTHER: It’s going to get infected. It’s going to get infected, like Uncle John’s leg, and have to be amputated.
DAUGHTER: Uncle John had diabetes.
MOTHER: And so will you, if you don’t stop drinking those sugary soft drinks all day.
DAUGHTER: I drink maybe one soda a day, mom.
MOTHER: Sometimes, that’s all it takes. What did I just say?
DAUGHTER: If they didn’t want me to pick them, then they wouldn’t grow. It’s part of nature, mom. Like picking strawberries.
MOTHER: Sometimes I worry about you.
DAUGHTER: Look at the size of this!
I often wish I had a sign that says “Stop talking about scabs.” Thankfully, they were the next ones called in, so I didn’t have to vomit on my hands.
I waited probably forever. It was so boring. I wanted to reach into my backpack but there were too many people looking. Some people looked at magazines, but the magazines in medical clinics are usually diseased, my dad said, and you should probably never touch them.
The old man came back out. He wheeled me out the door just by wheeling me into it until it opened, which hurt my feet, and also my kneecaps. There are special wheelchair buttons you can press, but he never pressed them.
The scab girl and her mother were in the parking lot. The girl was standing stiff while the mother rubbed a white cream all over her legs. She looked like she’d swallowed a tantrum.
MOTHER: Don’t make a fuss. And don’t say I didn’t tell you so. I’ll have to reapply this … at six, I guess. Now do – not – touch.
DAUGHTER: Can we get ice-cream?
DAUGHTER: You said we could get ice-cream after.
MOTHER: Well, I’m not sure.
DAUGHTER: I won’t pick, if we get ice-cream.
MOTHER: Do you promise?
DAUGHTER: I promise.
MOTHER: Well … alright.
Some people are just so dumb.
From The Sea-Wave, an unpublished novel-in-flashes.