By Ashley Hothersall
Stark white walls. White cabinets attached to white countertops. A small, square room lined with approximately forty white tiles. There is nothing worse than sitting in these tiny, white rooms. That and waiting. It’s enough to make a person go crazy.
But my imagination saves me. It starts to take me places. Sometimes a place in the future, some other place I’d like to be. Or sometimes a place in my past, contemplating what I would have done differently, what I could have said. And sometimes, I find myself lost in a memory.
I remember being five years old. I’m home from school sick, and I’m sitting on my daddy’s lap in his raggedy blue La-Z-Boy chair. A dewy breeze from the ajar sliding door beside us fills the room with the smell of rain and the TV is on; Animal Planet, my dad’s staple channel. A lion attacks a zebra and the patter of raindrops against our patio muffles the sound of feral agony. Unaffected, I look to my father, through his thick, curly eyelashes and into his chestnut brown eyes and I say, “Daddy, my throat hurts,” and he says, “I know baby, my throat hurts too.”
After a few days, my sore throat goes away. But his doesn’t. His is cancer. Six months later, he’s gone.
There’s a tap on the door and my hanging head snaps up as it opens. White lady, white jacket, baby blue scrubs grazing neat, white shoes.
“Yes,” I reply, my voice throaty and raw.
“I have the results.”
She sits down in her rolling chair and the beat of my heart slows into a single, heavy throb. She folds her hands over her lap distinctively, preparing herself to speak. But I already know what her words will reveal; her display says it all.
“First, let’s discuss treatments.”
She rambles on but my ears filter out her voice. Taking a deep breath, I lean back on the papered bed and gaze off at the ceiling. Approximately twenty-five white panels.
Bright, white fluorescent lights. I wish I could die like the zebra: quick and unexpectedly. There is nothing worse than waiting.