|“Maybe it was the uncaring way the
waiting room chair held my body…”
I walked into the clinic and immediately felt gross. Still reeling from my day of puking, I hadn’t showered or shaved my legs in several days. My hair was a greasy blob and I had a green tank top with sticky bright stripes that said “Key West.” My jean skirt was too tight and too short and also a little wrinkly from being balled up in a drawer somewhere after the last time I tried it on and decided it was too tight and too short. I looked like I belonged in one of those celebs-without-makeup pictures, where the unrecognizable star simultaneously squints and glares at the paparazzi behind a Big Gulp.
I swayed patiently by the registration window. I pulled out the insurance card I had received in the mail a few weeks earlier. This would be my first time using it.
The receptionist could sense me lingering. I say she could sense me because she didn’t look up from the chart she was furiously scribbling in throughout our entire exchange.
“Yeeeessss…” she inquired.
“Hi. Hello. Um. Hi. I just need to check in, or something, I guess?”
“Check in? Do you need a hospital sweetheart?”
“Oh no,” nervous cackling. “Um, no nothing like that. I just. I’ve never been here. So I just wanted to say that I’m here now and need to speak with, well see, a doctor or physician of some sort who can help me possibly?”
“What seems to be the problem?”
“That’s a pretty funny story actually. Well more outlandish than funny, I guess you could say…”
She stopped writing and started tapping her pen impatiently on the chart.
“I’m here because I took a (whispered) pregnancy test at home and I know they tend to be inaccurate so I just wanted a second, more sound, opinion on the result.”
“So you got a negative reading, and want to see if it could be positive?” Back to scribbling.
“Sort of. Except the opposite. But yes. That’s the idea. You can do that here, right ? I have my insurance card,” I said and held it up for proof.
She started to laugh. And not in the way a person laughs when they like you or think you have said something adorable. It was more like the way a person laughs when their high school nemesis hits the multi-million dollar lottery drawing. It was a scoff. And a little bit sinister too.
“Sign your name on that clipboard. I’ll call you up to fill out some more paperwork once I can pull myself together back here.”
So I did just that. I started to feel nervous. Maybe it was the uncaring way the waiting room chair held my body or the cackling award-winning-cursive-handwriting receptionist that had me on edge.
“Katie Poh, Poh, Pohlowski?”
“Poh – wall – skee… yes. Me. Yes?”
“Fill these out sugar.”
She handed me a clipboard with a few pages inquiring about my medical history, a privacy notice and something about agreeing to pay for things that my insurance refused. I started answering the questions on the pink pieces of paper.
When I got to the part asking for an emergency contact I hesitated. My mom was probably a poor choice in this instance. Plus, a person over a thousand miles away is not exactly reliable in the case of a true emergency. I didn’t know anyone at work well enough yet to list and certainly didn’t have phone numbers handy. I suppose there was the option of the father of my improbable child. But if this visit turned out to be a bad case of gas and asparagus overdose, I would hate for him to get a call about my sprained ankle in a year and have to say, “Who?” and look like a real jerk.
Brian Dole. Maybe it was dumb to scrawl the name of my recently ex-boyfriend who was not in any natural way possibly the father of my embryo – a man who had no clue I was even in this possible condition. But he would come in case of emergency. Rain, shine, pregnant, barren. He would come. He would stay through five surgeries if need be and eat bad hospital broccoli cheese soup while I was under anesthesia. He would show up and stay – at least until my mom hopped a flight from Chicago to Orlando and battled rush hour traffic on I-4 and outdated maps to rush to my hospital bedside. He wouldn’t come out of devotion or lovesickness or even obligation. Brian would come because he was just an emergency contact kind of guy.
Plus I knew Brian’s cell phone number by heart. Brian was the lucky emergency contact winner.
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