Weathered hands take turns holding up her head and running though her hair, locking knuckles to keep from doing either. Shoulders sit too high, pressed against her head to keep it from crashing onto the counter. She barely stands, an uprooted tree with a too frail trunk struggling to keep her knobby limbs attached. Her blonde canopy is thin, withered and cracked with bleach. A growing nest of dark roots perch on top.
Another woman behind the counter smiles, patient, yin to frustrated yang. She has warm chocolate eyes and cheeks creased with years of smile and laughter.
“Copay,” falls out of the dead tree’s mouth, consonants hard and cold. Weak fingers reach inside her purse and nerves take over. Contents fly like shrapnel: a cell phone snaps awake, a too-big keychain rattles the room awake. She socially attempts to ignore the two tampons and shoves everything back inside. She finds her prize and tosses it onto the counter.
“Here,” and her insurance card falls dead into the happy woman’s lap.
Welcome to the Waiting Room.