The doctor ushers Maggie in and peers at her, as if she is some oddity, an unsavoury specimen.
He stares until she can feel herself start to sag, from the middle down. All her confidence, all her arguments, all the simple rationality she has brought with her ebb away.
But still Maggie breathes and she tries. Tries to explain how tired she is, how her brain aches constantly. How every second some part of her is needed. How each secret thought is interrupted and splintered, instantly spiralling away. Like now, when she is supposed to be explaining and concentrating. Even now tiny hands pull at her clothes and tiny mouths pick at her mind.
Reluctantly the doctor examines her, takes measurements and turns her limbs, touching her skin with dry and papery hands.
Maggie recoils. Yet she knows that he is the expert in his field and her only chance.
Afterwards, back behind his desk, the doctor clears his throat and says,
‘The procedure you are requesting… it is very serious. Extreme, life changing and irreversible.’
‘But can you do it?’
A pause, both of them hold their breath.
‘I can. But you need to take more time.’
Leaning back he sighs. Peers again.
‘And, in all honesty, I fail to see why you need a second pair of hands. As I said it seems extreme. But come back in a week.’
Maggie stands, gathers her things- the voices and the tiny hands- and turns to leave.
Before she reaches the door he stops her with the words,
‘And next time please would you leave the children at home. They make it impossible for me to concentrate. Hard to get things done.’
Rachel Canwell is a writer and teacher living in Cumbria. She is currently working on a flash collection and her first novel which was shortlisted for the Retreat West Pitch to Win 2021. Her short fiction has been published in Sledgehammer Lit, Pigeon Review, Reflex and The Birdseed amongst others.
Website - https://bookbound.blog/writing/
Twitter - @bookbound2019