This story is by T. D. Bouchard and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Dazzling August sunshine causes her to squinch her eyes as she merges into traffic. The black Ray-Ban Wayfarers don’t seem to be helping much, but she knows without them the fireball sun will blind her as it reflects off the silvery-gray freeway. She has only eighty-seven more miles to her destination.
“Let’s look for the purple banana, ‘til they put us in the truck,” her Alfalfa-like voice belts out in-sync with his purple highness.
Dark brown eyes, surrounded by Urban Decay rockstar eyeliner and Too-Faced Better Than Sex mascara in black, glance at the speedometer.
“Fuck, 82 miles per hour. Slow down.”
Enter here the arrow sign announces the parking lot entrance.
“Isn’t it amazing how phallic arrows are?” she asks, but there is no one to answer her, as usual. Pulling into a space facing the highway, hand on knob, shifting into neutral, removing foot from clutch, air conditioning running, she sits momentarily. Lungs fill with air ready to explode like an aerosol can in an incinerator. Her nervous system crackles like power lines.
Exhale. Reaching into her once-a-rice-bag handbag, taking out her lip balm, and smearing it across her dry lips she experiences immediate relief.
“Quit chewing on that piece of dry lip skin. You’ll make it bleed,” she tells herself. She turns off the air-conditioning, pushes in the clutch, shifts into first, kills the engine, tosses keys and lip balm into her bag, and exits the car. Klunk, the door slams behind her.
She whips her head to the right and sees the speaker. A Lilliputian man wearing striped Dickies bib overalls films her as she walks towards the entrance.
“Of course, there is a lone tiny man here,” she mumbles to herself. Facing forward, inhaling, she straightens her spine, stands her full five feet six inches, and strides to the front door.
The security guard, a man who looks as if he spends all his free time at the gym preparing for the Mr. Olympia contest, asks for her ID, and then punches in the code on the keypad. Beep, Bawp, Boop, Bee.
“Keep your ID out,” he tells her. “You’ll need it inside.”
“I see you’ve already filled out your paperwork. Sign here. I’ll collect your $525 now,” the receptionist states. Extracting the cash from her wallet, she passes it through the oblong opening in the glass partition. “Take a seat and you’ll be called soon.”
“I think the creators of Legos designed these chairs,” she writes in her journal as she waits. “Also, I hope they did not pay an interior decorator to design this room with chairs the shade of pea-soup vomit and 1970s end tables. I can’t stand sitting in this room with all these couples. I see how they look at me, the pity in their eyes because no one is here with me. Correction, no man is here with me. Well, I didn’t want him to be. See her and her and her clutching his and his and his hand. I don’t need any man holding my hand.”
She hears her name. Closing her journal, she stands, and walks through the paint-chipped blue metal door.
“Let’s do an ultrasound first to confirm the dates,” the nurse announces.
Splat. Covering her abdomen with ultrasound jelly the nurse maneuvers the wand right and left, up and down.
“Okay, you are two weeks further along than you told us when you scheduled the appointment. That will be another $50.” Waddling to the desk she retrieves her wallet, pulls out $60, and gives it to the nurse. “Put the gown on, opening in the back. I’ll be back with your change and your receipt shortly.”
Purple Converse, first left, then right, land next to the exam table. Undressing, she glances at the crotch of her jeans.
“Great – a hole.” Gown on, pulling the back panels across each other to close the gap and keep her ass cheeks from sticking to the chartreuse vinyl chair, she takes out her journal and begins to write. She doesn’t want to forget a moment of this day.
Next week or next year, she’ll read about the events of this day as a way of punishing herself.
“Clearly, green is the dominant color of the clinic. Is there some meaning behind this? The nurse is friendly enough. I hope that man is still not out there filming when I leave. Soundproofing is something that should’ve been invested in. I can hear someone crying. I’m not going to cry. I intentionally chose to wear lots of eye makeup to keep myself from crying. I need to write down everything that is taking place today; however, my mind keeps wandering to stupid things like the color of the chairs. I think the nurse is back. Be back later.” Closing the journal, she notices something wet hit the cover.
Forty-five minutes later, she is in position. No green in this room, just silver instruments, and white light.
A man is speaking to her, telling her all that is involved in the procedure, and she nods.
“You did not pay for sedation. Are you sure you don’t want to change your mind?” the doctor asks.
“She is alone,” the nurse tells him.
“Oh,” he replies. His goggle covered eyes peer directly into her eyes. Once again, she sees the pity, or perhaps it is empathy. “Let’s get this done.”
He offers her his hand. She takes it.
Less than five minutes and it’s over. She realizes she is clutching his hand and that she is holding her breath. Releasing his hand, she sees where her nails sliced into his palm. Drops of blood fall onto the open back gown she wears. I guess I did need a hand to hold on to, she thinks.
“Stand up and I’ll walk you back to your room,” the same nurse who earlier asked for the extra $50 tells her. It’s a different room, but all her belongings are there.
“Okay, get dressed. You’ll be here about thirty minutes, and then we’ll release you.”
She dresses, grabs her journal, and begins writing. Fifteen minutes later, the nurse opens the door and tells her she can leave.
She is led to a different door. A back door. No security guard to look out for her as she leaves.
Making her way to her car she notices she is being filmed again.
It’s not the same man. This one is wearing an orange plaid western shirt and a pearl colored straw cowboy hat, holding a camcorder in one hand and a bible in the other.
“Murderer,” he screams at her.
Engine idling, she sets the iPod to the playlist she created specifically for this day. An eclectic mixture of funk, 80s and 90s pop, and reggae guaranteed to bombard her brain with guitar riffs and percussion preventing thoughts. Tomorrow tears resembling the flood scene from Dante’s Peak where Paul is carried away with the bridge will overwhelm her, but not now.
Eighty-seven miles until she reaches her home exit. She feels like she found her purple banana.