The Waiting Room Monster
We’re waiting in the emergency room and I am afraid. It’s not just my husband and I here, in this bright clean room. There’s a monster with us, but it hasn’t taken shape. Sometimes it’s small, scuttling across my chest, sometimes it’s huge, its clawed hand heavy on my heart. It’s lurking all around us. Its breath as hot as my husband’s forehead. It’s leaning in to kiss me, with lips reeking of metal and iodine and wet marshy plants.
But it doesn’t have a name, so I can’t banish it. And it sits next to me in a plastic chair, crosses its legs and whispers in my ear. Whispers all the things it could be with its hard angry mouth. It’s telling me the future, because all hospitals do is make you think of death. And the white scratchy blanket covering my husband looks like a shroud.
The clawed hand of the monster pinches my shoulder, and I itch to grab my phone. To Google symptoms during the endless wait for the doctor and the ultrasound technicians and the sweet relief of knowing. I stare at the TV. The screen hosts schools of colorful fish drifting in the current. It’s not soothing. Where are the sharks?
We are waiting. The monster waits to be born and given a name. I wait for them to tell me what it is. I’m here to destroy it. And it knows this. And it grins. Because it’s a cousin of the What If Monster that lives inside my head--that glutton for sickness and tragedy. The What If Monster and the Waiting Room Monster are related, and they enjoy their quiet reunions in these small square rooms. These tombs of the helpless.
The Waiting Room Monster is at its best during the ultrasound. I can see the screen, the gray white world inside my husband’s legs. So exposed. The monster spits into my ear and squeezes me every time we see a strange blob. The secrets of the body are right there, but I can’t read them, and the monster knows. So it tap dances, whistles and spins through the room. It’s swelling to the size of an elephant. The technicians roll their equipment into the hallway, and it’s as if they were never here. Their space is eaten up by the monster. Looming. My husband and I are so small, our breath shallow, devoured.
Then the curtain opens and the doctor is here, in his scrubs and practical shoes that squeak over the linoleum like friendly mice. As the words tumble from his calm mouth, the monster is born right in front of me on the clean shiny floor. It writhes wetly, shrinking from the size of an elephant, to the size of a sasquatch, down to something manageable.
Like a medium sized dog.
I leash it.
About the Author: Arah is a writer based in Seattle, currently working as a Content Specialist at Rover.com. When she’s not writing about pets and pet care, she can be found with her nose in a book or out exploring Washington’s wilderness. Her writing has been published in The Daily Treat, Outside In Magazine, and Cactus Heart Press.