The already cramped doctor’s office is packed. Seriously? I check in and grab a seat near the window.
A copy of In Style magazine with an attractive blonde on the cover catches my eye. I flip past Lose 10 lbs fast! to the recipe section. That’s always the best part, anyway.
Whispers distract me. I glance up. A little girl with dark hair that hangs in her face and ragged clothes that have seen better days, sits directly across. She’s barefoot, feet grimy and scabbed. I hide my disgust. How did they let her in like this? She quietly talks in the ear of the elderly woman beside her. The woman puts her hand to her head, moans, then grabs her stomach.
“Beatrice!” the nurse says from the door.
The elderly woman fights to walk to the nurse, hunched over as she shuffles.
I bite my lip. That was…strange. Whatever. The next recipe calls my attention and I ignore the room around me for another minute.
Until those whispers return. Those whispers.
My gaze jets around the room.
The girl has changed seats. She sits near a young man, now. He wears ear buds, his chin bobbing up and down to the beat of his music. The girl leans in. Whispers. His eyes glaze then crinkle as he grabs his chest, his side. The guy pulls the ear buds out and leans over, elbows on his knees, hands on his head.
“Jeremy!” the nurse says.
She stands at the door with a clipboard in her hand. He struggles to his feet and lopes after her, his jaw flexed the entire way. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. This is weird. Too weird.
Once more, I shove my nose back into my magazine but I keep an eye on the girl and her movements from behind the pages. She moves from one person to the next. Each time she whispers. Each time the person reacts like they’ve just been stricken with sudden illness. Yet, no one comments on her presence, or even acknowledges her, for that matter. Not a single person looks in her direction.
Like she’s not real. An apparition.
I suck in a breath and my stomach clenches. I’ve had enough of this. It’s time I told the receptionist and got this girl kicked out of the office.
I toss the magazine on the table, grab my purse and—
The girl sits beside me. I can’t see her eyes from the way her stringy hair covers them. I cringe. A scent of something rotted drifts over, something sour and moldy. I cover my nose and lean away.
She whispers. Words I don’t understand. Can’t comprehend.
Pain lances across my forehead, shoots through my gut. My muscles go weak and my throat lights on fire with heat.
“Linda!” The nurse calls me.
I look beside me.
The girl is gone.
©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017