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The Weight

The room is large, bright, and has faux wood floors - like a big yoga studio or the foyer of a massive home. The chairs are an array of options - traditional, doubled, taller, shorter, wider. A smattering of figures, maybe six or eight, shift in their selections as I enter the room. Will I get to go back before them?

This is my first visit here, and as two TVs blare different channels from each other across the room like some digital joust, I fumble with the automatic check-in. I can’t be this obsolete yet, can I?

After, I select a seat (traditional) in a corner to wait.

Next in is a man clutching a white plastic bag, the contents of which I cannot discern. He is shorter than me, in part because he hunches slightly over a medical cane. The cane, bearing most of his weight, squeaks along the floor as he slowly approaches the desk.

His hair is dyed black. There’s an unlikely chance it’s natural, but the lines in his face and the bald spots showing through suggest otherwise. He calls out to the desk from several feet away, engaging us all in the drama of his check in and also unwilling to come closer, either due to difficulty or disease.

“I’m back! I brought this! You should have told me to bring it when I was here yesterday!” He exclaims to the young woman behind the counter whose puzzled yet stoic expression suggests she was absolutely not here yesterday.

”Oh, thanks” she murmurs as she focuses on a screen in front of here, trying to discern why he’s here and ignoring him as he thrusts the bag towards her, hardly within arms reach.

”You should have told me yesterday! I had to come back!”

She asks him to take a seat, still not taking the bag, whose contents now intrigue me. It looks like Amazon packaging, like the sort of unrippable white bag that comes bearing last night‘s impulse buy and then takes six months to make it’s way from under my kitchen sink in the bag of bags, to the trunk of my car, and finally to the recycling bin for bags at my grocery store. Or any grocery store I abruptly turn into one day when I remember the bags are in the trunk.

”Yes, we are sorry,” she replies. “Please sit.”

”But my appointment is 8:30!” He’s incredulous at being asked to sit.

The time is 8:08.

He sits, unhappily, directly in front of me so that I am staring at the back of his head.

Each time a nurse opens the door to call a name, he alerts and replies back with his name, as if he wants them to confirm the name they just said wasn’t supposed to be his.

My name is called. I’ll never know what’s weighing down that bag.

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