>The clinic- part 1- JulieAnn Carter-Winward

2 Mar



The car door closes behind her and without stopping, she walks to the sidewalk. The girl wears a gray hoodie jacket, lined with flannel. It’s not a parka, but it’s warm enough against the chill. Her hands delve deep into her pockets and strain the coat away from her body; her fists show through the cloth and extend forward as if they try to escape their owner. As she stands on the cement, she slides her hands out of their cocoons. Slowly, her elbows rise behind her so she can rest the palms of her hands on her lower back. For a moment her shoulders collapse, curving her back into a “C” shape; her black ponytail flops forward against her cheek and she grimaces in discomfort as her protruding belly seems to disappear behind her jacket.

She straightens and watches the car expectantly.

A young man emerges from the car and steps up to the curb. His feathery-thin mustache can be seen like a shadow, barely gracing his lip. Smoke balloons around his face like fogged glass as the tip of his cigarette brightens momentarily. I see black eyes flit toward me for brief moment. Untouched by anything he sees, he turns to face the girl. They stare at each other and she, too, glances my way. They could not see me; the sun barely scrapes the tops of the mountains and by her frown, I suspect that the new morning rays have just emerged over the snow-capped peaks. She raises a delicate hand to her brow to ward off the glimmering light.

I see her lips move and he nods his head in assent. Her words are muted by my windshield, but her companion hears her; his face registers nothing but a void mien. With a flick of her wrist she flips her ponytail back in place. As she turns to face the blonde-brick strip mall facade, her gait is unsteady; her ample abdomen seems to reach forward and propel her toward the door.

The young man waits as she reaches for the shiny gold knob. She holds the door open for a moment, her back to him. Eyes closed, he devours the smoke with collapsing cheeks; an intense draw that alights the end of the cigarette to a final blaze. With a furtive look around, he tosses the smoking butt to the sidewalk.

It seems to take him an eternity to reach the door. His feet shuffle with small steps, as when a young boy’s feet kicks up the sand on a beach. Unaware of his proximity, the girl lets the door close behind her. He stops and regards the closed door. He does not reach for the handle right away. Instead, he stops and surreptitiously glances about the sidewalk and parking lot once more. His face is passive, vacuous and resigned He reaches for the gold handle and walks through the door behind his companion. He enters the clinic, seemingly alone.

(c) JulieAnn Carter-Winward


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