Friday, October 13, 2017

Fiction: It's Not the End of the World

Following is a fable written for the prompt, "It's not the end of the world..."


I checked in at the cardiologist’s office and filled out the usual paperwork, lying about the amount of wine I drink, my drug regimen, how much salt and fat I consume and how much I exercise. Without forewarning, the nurse handed me a neon-pink pill in a cup and told me to take it right away. “Contrast material,” she explained. “Lights you up for the magnetic echocardiogram.” I gulped it as she watched. She instructed me to sit down and wait.
Oh-oh! Medical stuff always makes me so nervous I can’t keep my lies straight. My churning stomach sucked up the pill and blasted it into my bloodstream. I was getting light-headed when I remembered a few drugs I omitted from the form. When I caught the nurse’s attention, I fessed up to my morning’s intake: Valium to calm me down, Elavil to pick me up, and a shot . . . okay, two shots of brandy. She patted my arm and said, “It’s not the end of the world, honey. Everything will be OK.”
As I got seated in the waiting area, my legs turned to rubber. Across the room, a woman was sleeping, her head thrown back and her mouth open, making wet snoring sounds. I hunkered in my seat fighting drowsiness.  “Came from Fallbrook did you?” a disembodied raspy voice asked from the chair next to me. “I drove in from Ramona.”  
An end table and a huge lamp separated us. The light was making me dizzy, so I looked at the floor on her side. A large greenish foot was sticking out from the hem of an avocado green mumu. While I watched, the foot flicked back under her dress, but I got a flash of three long toenails lacquered candy-apple red, like my ex-husband’s Corvette.
The mumu was printed with a corny 1976 Hawaiian motif. Black-haired brown girls, wearing grass skirts and half-coconut bras, were strumming ukuleles and wiggling all over the garment. You could tell they were doing the hula from those little parentheses beside each hip. A whiff of Amphibia, Kermit’s favorite scent, blew by my nose when she shifted in her chair. She held a copy of the National Geographic on her lap. Her long red fingernails matched the toes. Her skin looked greenish.
“Was it hot when you left home?” she croaked. “112 in my yard. I’m worried about my black walnut tree. You’re French-Canadian, eh? I can tell by your accent because I’m a frog too.” She leaned out and around the lamp to face me. A brownish-gray braid hung over one shoulder. A smile consumed the entire lower half of her pale green face. Her pillowy lips, like Angelina Jolie’s, were painted the same red color as her toes and fingernails. She gazed at me with the single eye on the right side of her face. Large and black, a thick fake eyelash fluttered above it. A friendly eye, if a bit too wet, I stared into it and saw my reflection, the red Pantera and my Filipina niece doing the hula.
On her left, the eyeless side, there was another fake eyelash stuck to a patch of scarified skin. Was she really a frog? The useless lash struggled to keep pace with its mate but it was a beat behind; the erratic fluttering made me dizzy. Head spinning, I struggled to process that my seatmate was a frog from Ramona with a walnut tree and one eye.          
“You all right?” the concerned Canadian frog asked. She hopped from the chair and the National Geographic slid to the floor, open to an article about scientific websites.  
Pulling herself up to her full four-foot height, she cupped her hands around her mouth and croaked for help.
“Nurse,” she called out. “This woman has a problem.”


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