She was eating the skin around her finger. The TV in the waiting room was reporting a New Year’s rape that took place in Sydney. New Year’s was seven hours ago in Australia.
As a kid, she used to think that people in Australia were in the future, and one had to travel through different dimensions to reach that future. The idea of being behind made growing up a lot harder.
The rape victim was a 24-year old student who was going to meet her friends at the harbour. Passerbys found her bruised and unconscious behind a fast-food restaurant. No sperm was found in her vagina or nearby. She didn’t even remember the man who had approached her. All she remembered was the intense awareness of being smothered. Doctors had analyzed the marks on her neck and thighs and figured that whoever had attacked her must have had small hands – only if there had been a potential attack. The whole world was speculating.
The nurse called her name, and she followed her to have her blood pressure checked. Then the nurse escorted her into the doctor’s office, where she waited for ten minutes.
Going to the doctor’s had always been a pleasure. Ever since childhood, she was curious to find out what was wrong with her. She used to run to her local physician without an appointment and claimed she had an asthma attack. It took her three visits to understand that a panic attack was a name for shortness of breath and rejection of reality. Her mind would distort her vision and create scary men with butcher knives or crazy mums with hairbrushes made of metal needles. If mentally strong enough, she could control them; if not, they would control her.
She never told anyone.
The doctor enters the room with a smile. He was tall and fit, his hazel eyes resembling driftwood in a Corot painting.
“How are you feeling today?” he said.
She nodded, OK.
He scanned her face thoughtfully as though recollecting his memories about something.
“Does the medication help?”
“Yes, thanks, but that’s not why I am here.”
“Ah, yes, pap test results…”
He scrolled down his mouse, narrowing his eyes as he read the details about her medical history. For some reason, she believed he was looking at everything but the Pap test. She began tapping her foot on the floor.
She stopped tapping.
“There are some slight abnormalities in your cells…”
“It’s nothing to worry about. It could just be temporary. Come back for another pap in six months, and we’ll check again.”
He began typing into her history section as if recording the progress or non-progress of a lab rat. He suddenly paused to think.
“Is anything unusual during your period?”
She shook her head.
“OK. We’ll send you a reminder to make an appointment.”
She nodded as she rose from her chair.
“Oh, on another note…” he said, looking back at his monitor.
“How far are you with your other medication?”
Her hand dug inside her handbag, where she found the container of tablets. She shook it in front of the doctor, snapped the lid open too quickly, leading the tables to fall over the place. They looked like little minions.
“Shit,” she said.
“That’s a lot of tablets,” he said, staring at the mess.
She knelt down to pick up the bits of her dignity.
“Hey, hey, wait…” he said, returning to his monitor.
“Here’s a new one. Please, take them.”
Her hands were shaking when he passed the paper to her. Before he looked her in the eye, she grabbed it and turned to open the door.
Outside the medical center, she gasped deeply for air, as if she had been underwater during the whole appointment. She heard the waves in her mid-ear and felt the water splashing against her back as she reached the shore.
After picking up her medication, she headed down High Street with. It dawned on her that it was six hours before midnight. People in Australia were probably waking up to new dawn, while she was still in the past crushed in between medications. She swallowed one without water and then put her earphones in as she continued walking.
Several groups of dressed up people were strolling down towards the square, and some disappeared in bars on the way. The sunset was an hour ago. The vision of the beach had made her think it was still daytime; the sun still lit the horizon.
She swallowed two minions.
Friends and families were having dinner in fine restaurants. The movements of their heads and arms looked so mechanical. There were ten miscalls on her phone, along with several text messages. She skimmed through them and read one, saying, “Where are you?” without checking any names. The last thing she knew, she’d dropped her phone somewhere on quicksand.
A crowd began to build near the square, and she turned left into a small residential area, where the rich people lived. While the music was smoothening out the stubborn creases in her mind, she took another two minions. Next, her feet led her to the backyard of some private property. She found a swing to sit on. There was music in her entire body—the bass was pumping in her chest, and the guitar was tingling the surface of her brain. The smooth voice was petting her between her eyes.
She slipped her right hand between her legs, and the sky approached her. How long had she been on the swing? Had she been breathing? She took a deep breath in, escaping into her music while staring at the stars.
Her left hand crept up on her neck. The grip is firm.
Fireworks lit up the sky. They must be preparing for dinner in Australia.
by Paula Deckard (c) Dec 2014