The Waiting Room
The prompt for Writer’s Club this month is the waiting room. I am very proud that I didn’t wait to write this story. Usually, it’s an hour before the club meets and then I just jot something down. However, this prompt immediately gave me an idea. Most likely, it was one of those things that linger in the back of your mind, something that was filed under “Useless, But Might Come In Handy Later” files. I am pretty sure this story stems from a conversation I had with a Nun one time was I was that precious, always-in-trouble child. Please enjoy the story and let me know what you think.
The Waiting Room
Anna Louise hated waiting. She hated it so much that she refused to go to any popular theme park because she would have to wait in line for just about anything. To ride a ride or to get some food, even to enter the place would require waiting. Anna Louise was all about the small roadside attractions that no one ever went to. There was usually no waiting. So far she had seen the world’s biggest ball of twine, the world’s biggest frying pan, the historic US Army Camel Corps, and a diamond mine that produced absolutely no diamonds, but did have some low-quality emeralds. If she had the patience to wait she would have never seen these things.
Yet here she was waiting, in a waiting room with no magazines and no TV. She had been here forever, which in Anna Louise’s world meant about 5 minutes. There was nothing here to look at. Everything was bright white, the walls, the ceiling, the floor, and even the hard plastic chair were white. There were no pictures on the wall and no music played. She squirmed in her chair anxiously. She looked around for the receptionist. There was none. Anna Louise was sitting in the only chair in a white room with no doors, no windows, and no other people.
“Hello” She called. “Hello”
There was no answer.
She tried to remember how she got here. She could not recall coming here on purpose. Perhaps she had been kidnapped. That thought increased her anxiety. She closed her eyes. Suddenly, like a movie playing behind her eyelids she saw herself driving along a country road. It was a lonely, but lovely road that brought to mind the Poet’s less traveled road. Of course, he meant it as a metaphor for exploring and venturing out on your own, but Anna Louise took the less traveled road because there would be fewer cars and people, and less waiting. She drove around a bend and everything went blank. Anna Louise opened her eyes.
A feeling of dread came over her. She didn’t know why, but it was there. Like something bad was about to happen. She stood up and began pacing the small room. Her heels clack- clacking on the floor was the only sound besides her breathing. Clack, Clack, Clack, the sound became annoying and she sat back down on the chair. It wasn’t really comfortable and she reached for her purse. If she put it behind her back it would act as a support. There was no purse. Anna Louise was sure she had her purse a minute ago. She looked under the chair. She stood up and looked at her seat. She scanned the small room, there was no purse.
Anna Louise sat back down. She was really getting nervous now. She went to wipe her hands on her jeans but instead felt a soft fabric. She looked down, her blue jeans and “Be A Good Human” t-shirt were gone. She was wearing a soft, billowy robe as white as the room.
“What the heck was going on?” She said loudly. “Where am I?”
Anna Louise stood up and paced around the room until her anxiety and fear subsided enough that she was able to sit down. She sat there. It was very strange, Anna Louise was having a hard time thinking of anything before this room. It was like she had always been in this room. She knew it wasn’t true. It couldn’t be. People don’t live their whole lives in a white square room. Anna Louise sighed and closed her eyes.
She was in her car She loved that car. It was not really a sports car, but it had the “get up and go”, as she liked to say, to give her a bit of horsepower when needed. She was not accelerating though as she went around the bend. It was a bit of a sharp one and she applied slight pressure to her brakes. It wasn’t enough, however, to prevent slamming into the back of the truck that was stalled on the other side of the curve. Anna Louise saw the truck logo on the tailgate then everything was blank again.
Startled, Anna Louise opened her eyes. The walls of the room were no longer bright white. Scenes from her life were playing, like a movie. On one wall was the time she saved a kitten from that evil Tommy Brays. She named the Kitten Bob. Bob and she had many a snuggle before he died at the ripe old age of 13. On another wall, she saw herself slapping a guy at a school. She had secretly liked him, but all of her friends didn’t. He wasn’t cool enough so giving in to the peer pressure and wanting to be popular, she slapped him when he asked her to dance. Everyone laughed. If she remembered, he died after jumping off a cliff into the ocean. He couldn’t swim. She always felt bad about what she did.
Another wall showed her as an adult paying off her neighbor’s mortgage. The poor woman had 4 children and her deadbeat husband, had died of an overdose. The neighbor was in danger of losing her home. Anna Louise had just signed a huge contract for another book and used the signing bonus to pay the mortgage. She never told the woman and as far as she could tell, the woman never knew who it was. Anna Louise loved that memory.
She spun in a circle looking at the ever-changing moments of her life. Some were good, some were bad. Sometimes Anna Louise did the right thing and sometimes, maybe, she could have done better. Those moments made Anna Louise cringe. She had always thought of herself as a good person, a nice person, but maybe she wasn’t. After watching her life play moment by moment, Anna Louise finally knew what was going on.
“Am I dead?” She asked again loudly.
“Where am I going? Heaven? Hell? Anywhere?”
“Am I in this waiting room forever?”
Suddenly Anna heard a “Ding” behind her. She turned. A portion of the wall opened up to reveal an elevator.
“Thank goodness.” Anna thought. “No more waiting.”
She walked over and entered the elevator. The elevator was just like the room, all white except for a large silver button on the wall. One of those arrows that lit up to tell you if you were going up or down was next to the button. There was a very tiny sign next to the button. Anna Louise did not have her reading glasses with her. They were in her purse that disappeared. She wasn’t sure, but she thought it said to push the button. So she did. Nothing happened. She pushed it again. Still nothing. So she pushed it several times in rapid succession. Still nothing. She pushed it one more time and the walls of the elevator lit up and a robotic voice admonished her to “Please Wait”.
“Great more waiting” muttered Anna Louise under her breath.
Suddenly there was another “ding”. The doors closed and the arrow next to the button lit up. Anna Louise inhaled sharply and the elevator began to move.
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