Gasping for breath
As Neil stares through the fish tank he wonders how long it’ll be before the buzzer goes, before it’s his turn to take the chair. He remembers his first visit to the dentist as a child. It’s the needles he dreads the most. Always hated needles. And he can’t see the point of the fish. Supposed to be therapeutic but seeing them going backwards and forwards or round in circles…
And what creature would want to swim in the residue of their food – and worse. If you can call it food. Looks more like confetti to him. It reminds him of his wedding to Sylvia and now he knows how the fish feel. Like them, he’d been oblivious to the pointlessness of it all. He just went with the flow, content with his life, sharing his abode with a creature that he thought he’d spend the rest of his life with. Only she’d found a way out, a crack in the glass of their existence and everything that his world had stood for cascaded down around him and he found himself fighting for air, unable to breathe as the enormity of his life hit him. And that was what had lead him here, to the room with the fish tank and the buzzer.
Looking around, he stares at a clock above his right shoulder. Almost midday. Ten minutes before the hands touch – a silent prayer.
He knows the chair waits for him on the other side of the door, and he grips the arms of the one he’s sitting in now. Sitting sweating, unable to breathe again. But then he relaxes, resigned to the inevitable.
He looks at the other side of the room; the rows of people looking back at the fish tank, through it, at him. Some are wearing smiles, others scorn. Two standing wear uniforms with smug grins. They’ve seen this scenario dozens of times, perhaps hundreds, and it’s become a game to them; watch the needles, the plungers force the liquids, perfect measurements, a work of art.
One fish bobs to the surface and gasps for breath. Neil flinches as the buzzer goes.
A door to his left opens and a woman in white appears. Looking around the room, her gaze goes to the fish tank and she frowns at the gasping fish. Putting her hand into her right pocket, she pulls out a notepad and pen and writes something down. She smiles at Neil and returns to the notepad and pen to her pocket. She then looks at the other side of the room. The frown reappears and she leans towards a coffee table, picks something up and points it at the wall.
“I’m sorry, Mr Jones,” she says as the prison scene is replaced with a cooking show. It’s the receptionist’s warped sense of humour. Hooked on the crime channel, she is – they shouldn’t show that sort of thing on daytime TV. I’ll speak to her again but she’s young. Anyway, do come this way. Dr Evans has everything ready. It won’t be as bad as you think. Don’t need so much these days. Count yourself lucky you’re not flying to Africa.
Picture above courtesy of morguefile.com.
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