The Waiting Room

Jake fidgeted in the vinyl chair of the doctor’s waiting room. The magazines strewn across the table were old and outdated, an unfortunate byproduct of the digital age. In an era when people read more than ever, they do it while staring into screens they move using their thumbs rather than turning pages.

    “Fulmer? Jacob Fulmer?” the nurse called as she swung open the door to the examination rooms. Jake lifted his hand and flashed a crooked smile before pushing himself out of the chair and following her through the doors. “Please, this way,” she said, leading him back into the rooms. The smell of disinfectant permeated the air, reminding him of weeks spent in the hospital before his mother passed away last year.
    They reached the end of the hallway of closed doors and opened the last one on the right. Sitting on the standard butcher paper was his wife of two years, Lexie. Despite her best efforts to hide them, saline trails outlined by mascara betrayed the fact that she had been crying. The doctor sat expressionless on her stool, typing on her laptop until she saw Jake enter the room with the nurse. 

    The doctor closed her laptop and placed it on the counter beside the sink. “You must be Jacob. I’m Dr. Shane.”

    “Yeah, that’s me. What’s- what’s wrong, doctor? What’s wrong with my wife?” he replied, a twinge of nervousness in his voice.

    “Alexis? Do you want me to tell him?” Dr. Shane asked, removing her glasses and placing a hand on Alexis’.

    Alexis’ voice hitched and tears resumed their course from her eyes to her jawline. “No.” She sniffed. “I can tell him.”

    “Baby, what’s wrong? Tell me,” he pleaded, moving closer and cupping her cheek in the palm of his hand, brushing her lip with his thumb. 

    Her voice hitched again as she tried to speak. “I’m- I’m pregnant Jake.” She tried to smile, but looked into her hands, ashamed. 

    “Pregnant?” he said, the words feeling foreign on his tongue.

    “Please don’t be mad, Jake!” she sobbed, the doctor rubbing the back of her hand. 

    “Mad? Why- Baby, why would I be mad?”

    Alexis’ sobbing abated and her lips trembled as she tried to compose herself. “Because now I’m gonna be fat and ugly and you won’t want me anymore!” she exclaimed as she broke down again. Jake wrapped his arm around her and pulled her into him as she buried her face in his chest.

    “I’d never leave you, baby. We’re made for each other, remember?” 

    “Even if I get fat and ugly?” she said, sniffling what mucus hadn’t already escaped to his shirt and looking up at him through blood-shot eyes.

    “Even if you get fat and ugly,” he replied before adding, “Now . . . if you get fat, ugly, and mean. Then all bets are off. Ain’t nobody got time for mean, baby.”

    She laughed and he wiped her tears away with his hands before pressing his lips to hers.