By Edele Winnie
She felt like her head was going to explode.
She was waiting in the waiting room. Doctor’s office waiting room. Skin specialist’s waiting room. It had taken four months – four unbearable months — to get in to see this dermatologist. Of course she hadn’t actually seen him yet. There was no one else in the waiting room and yet she had been waiting there for forty five minutes! What was the doctor doing? Didn’t they know it took months for people to get appointments and then to wait— for no one—she wanted to smash the chairs, to rip the cheap crap paintings from the wall, to shred the golf magazines and kill the tall green plant in the corner.
She tried to bore two holes in the frosted glass panel with her eyes. And then she was up and right there, tapping on the glass. Frightening sometimes how quickly thoughts became actions. Behind the panel sat a nurse or receptionist – whatever she was. She tapped again, louder. As if it needed to be louder when the nurse was right on the other side!
The panel slid slowly open. The nurse looked out at her with bleary eyes.
“I’ve been waiting for fifty minutes. My appointment was scheduled for fifty minutes ago. I was just wondering when I would be able to see the doctor? There is no one else in the waiting room. When is the doctor going to see me?”
“You’re next in line.” The bleary-eyed nurse replied, and slid the frosted glass panel slowly closed.
I could put my fist through it, she thought. Punch that idiot nurse right in the nose. Give her a bloody nose. Glass everywhere.
But she did not do that. She sat back down again. Crossed her legs properly in her beige knit skirt. Resisted picking at the skin peeling off her leg. Selected a golf magazine and opened it and didn’t read it. What was happening to her? Where was all this aggression coming from? She wasn’t normally so angry. It was the air in here, or the lighting. In ten minutes, she would leave, she decided. Immediately she began to reconsider. It had taken four months to get this far. If she walked away, how long would she have to wait? And she couldn’t wait anymore. It had all become too terrifying. She felt like she was losing control.
His eyes slid to her face. “Take off your skirt.” He repeated, but this time it was laced with irritation.
The door to the inner office opened and the bleary eyed nurse appeared. She was a big lumpy woman. “Follow me.” She said slowly, like she was on a different speed setting than the rest of the world.
The nurse slowly led the way to a small examining room. “The doctor will see you shortly.” The nurse said as she closed the door.
The examining room was so very small, almost at once she felt cornered. There was a raised examination table, with a disposable plastic paper sheet on it. The thought of being forced up there and picked at made her shudder. She sat in the chair. There was a sink, paper towel dispenser, sharps disposal container, garbage cans, laminated cartoon pictures of the layers of the skin. White floor tiles with grey speckles. White walls. White ceiling tiles. No clock. She tried counting specks on the floor tiles, just to have something to do while the time passed. She ran out of specks. In a way it was odd- to wait patiently four months and then to be driven insane by waiting an hour. She began to laugh about it and that’s when he came in.
Short stocky white coat balding on top with a full dark beard and glasses. He frowned when he saw her smiling. He closed the door tightly behind him, went to the sink and washed his hands as if he didn’t like touching a doorknob that someone else had handed.
“What seems to be the problem?” He said, still facing the wall.
“I have a strange patch of skin behind my knee and on my thigh.” She had worn a skirt so it would be easy to show.
“Take your skirt off.” He said, drying his hands on paper towels and looking at the ceiling.
“I can just lift it.”She wanted to say no but she was also desperately justifying it. He needs to see the whole leg— he can see things I can’t— there may be other patches that haven’t come out yet— he needs a whole body picture. A whole body picture.
Embarrassed, self–conscious, she stood and unbuttoned the skirt and lowered it down to the floor. She felt terribly exposed in her white underwear.
“Show me the patch on your leg.” He seemed suddenly to be standing very close to her.
She noticed her hand was shaking. Her fingers pointed to an area on the inside of her left thigh- her skin was pale and hairless except for the strange patch which seemed greenish.
“And here behind my knee.”
She swivelled to show him the green scaly skin that had erupted on the back of her leg.
He was putting on rubber gloves. His expression had changed. Before he had looked…lustful. Now he seemed curious, intrigued. He crouched down, his head close to her thigh. With a vinyl gloved hand he reached out and touched the green scaly skin. It seemed—reptilian. Near the edge of the green skin the woman’s own skin seem frayed, dead. He grabbed a piece of it, not meaning to pull, but it just fell away, exposing a long stretch of glistening green scales up the side of her leg.
She jerked like she’d been shocked. He was about to say something when she grabbed him by the ears and pulled him painfully to his feet. A red forked tongue flicked out of her mouth, touching his nose, tasting him.
Sudden panic seized him and he struggled— threw her arms off– pushed at her– but she was incredibly strong. She picked him up off the ground and threw him at the wall. Part of the wall smashed in, it was just cheap wall board. He grabbed the chair and swung it at her head. It connected and part of her face came away, exposing a green scaled lizard head with bulging red eyes beneath. She struck at him again, lifting him off the ground and onto the examining table. He was stunned and she was able to get her humans hands through his shirt and into his chest, ripping out the heart.
She staggered back, blood everywhere. The skin was falling away from her legs, her arms. She tore her clothes off. A dim memory forced its way forward. She’d done this before. She’d forgotten. She glanced at the doctor’s heart. It was on the chair now. She began to eat it.
She quickly finished and calmed down. Funny how a happy stomach gave one a different perspective. She found her skirt and put it back on. She caught sight of her reflection in the now cracked mirror over the sink. Oh my. Oh my my. This would not do. She was shedding this human skin. She was going to need a new one. Maybe she was having a growth spurt, getting bigger.
“Is everything okay in there?” It was the slow nurse, knocking on the examining room door.
She remembered the nurse, who was a big enough human. There would be room inside of her.
“Is everyone all right in there?” The nurse knocked again.
She looked at the door. The forked tongue flicked out and then in. “No.”