I’m sitting by myself, back in the corner in this full room. I see you. You’re sitting directly across from me. You’re alone, too. You’re staring absently into your lap, into your magazine, into your phone and the ceiling. You’re looking everywhere but at me. Everywhere but at the other women in this room. We have a lot in common. Neither of us are thrilled to be here. So we sit, in stone cold silence, pretending we are just a piece of the scenery. There’s a laugh across the room and we both look up, puzzled by the sound. Laughter doesn’t belong in a place like this.
Oh, it’s the ladies across the counter. Them. As you watch them, a strange expression that I can’t seem to place flickers across your face. Resentment? Jealousy? They’re talking about something funny one of their children did that morning. I see you wince at the word “daughter” and look back to your lap. I look back to those women across the counter. Even though they are submersed in this life on a daily basis, they really don’t understand. And most of me is happy for them. I am thankful they have never faced the pain that you and I have. I am glad they can be so ignorant. But I still hate them, too, just a little bit. I know you do too, friend.
They call your name.
As you get up and gather your belongings, I see you wiping your sweaty hands on your jeans. You glance my way and catch my eye. I give you a small smile. I will you to hear my thoughts as I pray for you. As I wish you good luck. You give a slight nod to me, understanding, and you walk away. You follow the nurse who doesn’t understand, but pretends to anyway.
I see you come back out sometime later. Your eyes are rimmed with red. The nurse walks you to the counter, right up to those still giggling women. One of them turns around, pulling up your chart and tries to make small talk, oblivious to the pain I can see so clearly from all the way across the room. She explains the fees due. I don’t want to hear but I do. With a sigh, you open your purse and hand her your payment. Wiping your eyes as a single tear escapes. She swipes your card without hesitation, and smiling, hands you your receipt.
My name is called and I pass you on the way back. You don’t look at me this time and I understand. We all hate to be caught up in this whirlwind. It seems silly to pay such extreme amounts for what typically comes free. But how can we resist?
It’s not even a service they are selling.
They’re selling dreams.