The Waiting Room – Shanna L
“Doctor, I cannot see that woman again!”
Caroline jumped and glared at the closed door that the yelling seemed to be coming from. She knew she was early for her appointment, but she thought she could sit quietly in the waiting room until her allotted time. She didn’t realize it would be so … noisy.
She glanced around the room as she waited. The room, she thought, was boring. White walls covered with Ansel Adams prints, evenly spaced, surrounded her. There were two couches with two tables sitting next to them. The coffee table was full of old magazines to read, the newest issue from three years ago. The waiting room was designed to be silent, as there were no phones and no receptionist, just a buzzer on the wall to press to let the doctor know you had arrived. If the doctor was with a patient, the red light next to the buzzer was lit and would stay lit until the doctor was available.
The room was just what the doctor ordered, except for one thing. Caroline tried not to look in the corner where she knew IT was sitting, but she couldn’t help it. She darted a look out of the corner of her eyes and recoiled in horror. It was just sitting there, tall and green, as if it had every right to sit there. As if it belonged there. As if people actually cared that it was in the room.
It was an artificial plant.
It was one of those fake plants with silk leaves that looked like a tree and sat in a wicker bucket. It sat in the corner, where a beam of sun shone on it from the window. Caroline couldn’t understand why it was sitting in the sun; it wasn’t as if a fake plant needed sun to survive. No, it just sat there and stole sun that could be used by the other plants in the room. Like the beautiful potted plant on the table next to her. Or the wildflowers on the other side of the room. These were plants that actually needed sun so that they could feed and live. What did a fake plant need, other than a wiping down with a wet washcloth every other week or so.
Caroline looked away from the thing masquerading as a tree and gave her attention to the plant on the table next to her. She leaned over and pressed her nose to its petals. “How are you today, my lovely?” she asked. “I brought you some coffee.” Caroline rummaged around in her bag and pulled out a stainless steel travel mug. Unscrewing the top, she poured the coffee on top of the plant and watched it seep into the dirt. “I noticed you were getting a little shiny, so I cut back on the cream and got you non-fat milk. Our secret,” she whispered.
Caroline hummed as she stroked the petals languidly. The clock on the wall ticked loudly as the second hand moved slowly around the dial.
The voice behind the door quieted to a murmur.
Had the fake plant moved closer to her?
Did the lights seem dimmer?
Caroline shook her head and grimaced. “A psychiatrist,” she thought. “Like I really need to see a psychiatrist.” The only reason she went to these sessions was because the judge ordered it, something about psychological counseling. She didn’t need counseling from a stranger; her flowers made sure she had all the counseling she needed.
Caroline caressed the leaves on the plant next to her. “Do you want to know a secret?” she whispered into the leaves. “Sometimes I make things up to tell the doctor. I make up dreams that I’ve had or tell him that I talk to imaginary people.” She giggled. “Sometimes I’ll say something weird just to see the look on the doctor’s face.”
Caroline paused and furrowed her brow, thinking. “Oh I know it’s not the right thing to do,” she said. “But the doctor just doesn’t understand.”
The door to the office opened and Caroline quickly dropped her hands and looked down at her lap. She wasn’t interested in seeing the face of the person leaving the office and instead watched their black and shiny dress shoes as they walked across the floor.
“Caroline?” called the doctor.
Caroline gathered her purse and stood up from the couch. Her mind whirled with all the “confessions” she would tell the doctor in their session. She sneered at his back as she followed him into the office. As if she would ever tell her secrets to someone who owned a fake silk plant.