Wednesday , 23 August 2017
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The Doctor

The Doctor

by Chris Davies

My grandson, Jay, and I are waved through the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson gate for our first medical appointment together. He sees the hospital lights stabbing through the arctic-morning ice fog and starts to keen. Prenatal alcohol exposure might have taken his speech, but there’s nothing wrong with his smarts. This is a place of intrusive hands, of cold metal, of steely pricks.I lob comforting words back to him and attempt to quell my anxiety as we squish into a parking space. He requires prying from his car seat. I take his hand, and the tears start as we slog towards the hospital. I wish I were chasing him, like I do at the playground; I wish he were dragging Grandpa, as through the McDonald’s parking lot. I drag him this time, and he is shrieking, and as we draw closer to the entrance, he drops, jerking my arm and almost upending me in the slippery lot.

I lob comforting words back to him and attempt to quell my anxiety as we squish into a parking space. He requires prying from his car seat. I take his hand, and the tears start as we slog towards the hospital. I wish I were chasing him, like I do at the playground; I wish he were dragging Grandpa, as through the McDonald’s parking lot. I drag him this time, and he is shrieking, and as we draw closer to the entrance, he drops, jerking my arm and almost upending me in the slippery lot.

This isn’t nervousness. Or pouting. Or even a tantrum. This is gut-felt, industrial horror and rage. Brimming with resolve and helplessness, I hoist his screaming, thrashing body and trot through the entrance, dodging flailing arms and legs. Faces turn to witness the spectacle and throw glares and condolences as I whip through the Pediatrics Clinic door.We sit down and I pull back his hood, revealing a sweaty head. Jay regroups for a second fit, scans the waiting room, and spies a large aquarium. Crying melts to a sniffle. He yanks from me and capers over to inspect it. His eyes relight and a delighted smile creases his tear-streaked face.

We sit down and I pull back his hood, revealing a sweaty head. Jay regroups for a second fit, scans the waiting room, and spies a large aquarium. Crying melts to a sniffle. He yanks from me and capers over to inspect it. His eyes relight and a delighted smile creases his tear-streaked face.

I sit back, take off my own jacket, catch my breath, and marvel. The fear in his body, the rage in his heart, the tears in his eyes, the kicking and the thrashing… all of it gone with a few sultry fish bubbles. And we’ve still yet to see the doctor.

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