Joelle sat in the waiting room, eying the infectious people all around and trying hard to build an intimidating tower of goods on the seat beside her. The stack of books and magazines had grown precarious, and she didn’t dare add any more; she was out of antiseptic wipes, anyway.
Joelle looked over at the reception desk. She knew they were talking about her. She could see the two receptionists whispering, glancing at her, just as they occasionally glanced at all the other patients in the waiting room. She also knew they were working to preserve their own jobs. Putting us all in a room together, Joelle thought. Leaving us here for dozens of minutes. Letting us stew in viruses and bacteria and gradually succumb to another illness to bring us back so the doctor could make a little more dough and those receptionists could make a tidy little bonus come Christmas time.
Joelle was on to them.
“Mrs. Mooney?” the nurse called from admitting door. He was attractive, Joelle thought, but another involved in the conspiracy. And probably covered in germs himself. She made a note to herself not to let him come in contact with her as she passed through the door, the way he was ushering the old Mrs. Mooney through with a hand on her elbow. It looked like Mooney had rickets. Or maybe a broken hip. Or perhaps cancer. Joelle would have to check the symptoms when she got home.
She continued to sit in her fortress, a side table with a couple of three-year-old copies of Reader’s Digest still sitting around a fake potted plant (probably coated in flues and colds, she thought). Her tower was doing its job of warding off potential sitters, which was good.
Finally, the nurse came to the door again. “Ms. Debose?” he called.
Joelle stood and made her way to the door. The nurse stepped back, holding the door for her, knowing the drama that would come if he came too close. He directed her to the exam room, had her sit on the extra-thick layer of paper he had laid for her on the examination table, and said, “The doctor will be with you shortly, Ms. Debose.”
“Once I’ve sat in the contagions long enough to catch a few more, Lyle?” she asked. He smiled and shut the door, rolling his eyes once he was out of view. See you in a couple of weeks, he thought.