“Those stirrups are pretty cold, you’d think you guys’d figure out a way to warm things up by now.”
“Scooch down please.”
“Uh huh, and the gowns – they gotta go. Hardly high fashion.” I twist in the industrial-sized sheet of paper towel straining to cover my torso in a thin attempt at modesty, while leaving my bottom half exposed. “You know, a nice terry cloth bath robe would go pretty well around here – make it feel like a spa.”
I always make jokes when I’m nervous. It lightens the situation. But Ice Queen is ignoring me, holding my chart in one ungloved hand, she’s busy reading, and then sets the chart on the tray beside the instruments.
“Any good reads there, doc?”
Instruments. I can’t keep my mind off the instruments. Instruments that look like glorified salad tongs and fondue forks. Medieval torture devices. I know they’re there, I just can’t see them. Metal and plastic clink together chillingly.
“Move down a little more”
I shimmy on my back over the exam table, my ass cheeks sticking to the cheap paper liner and as I shuffle, I can hear it rip beneath me.
Dangling off the end of the table, I grip the edges with both hands so I don’t topple off ass-first onto her lap. My feet are slipping out of the stirrups, and I idly wonder what colour socks I’m wearing. I think pink fuzzy, and nearly laugh at the mental image of a mostly naked woman wearing nothing but a piece of paper towel and fuzzy socks.
I can hear the faint scratching noises of a pen on paper. Good god, she’s taking notes. Or drawing pictures, I think as the scratching continues; maybe I’m malformed, in someway, and just don’t know it. She’s documenting this for a medical journal, and going to publish her freakish findings, my name now ‘patient X’, and nothing but a black rectangle over my eyes to preserve my identity.
“You know, if you took a picture, it would last longer,” I mumble.
“Uh, nothing.” I stare up at the ceiling, counting dots on the tiles. Cheap fluorescent lights making me squint. I shuffle on the exam table, feeling my ass sliding off. “You know, I can’t hang around all day.”
More silence, and the scratching of the pen. You’d think she would’ve done all her note taking while I was dressed, not naked and halfway onto her lap.
“When was your last menstrual period?”
“Uh – I don’t know – maybe a couple weeks ago or so. Maybe a month.”
Now Ice Queen looks up at me, all serious. “You don’t know when your last period was?”
“Uh – not really. It gets pretty busy, and things are kind of irregular…” I trail off, and look up at the ceiling, feeling like a Pap Test failure.
“You should be documenting this – most women do.” She stares at me, “In fact, most of my patients make notes in their day planners.”
She nods, “So they can plan around their cycle, maximize windows of fertility, or,” here she broke off and looked at me strangely, “At least know if they’re pregnant.”
“Uh huh.” I don’t tell her that I don’t have a day planner, so I’m not making any plans with my period. I also don’t tell her that I don’t have sex with men, so pregnancy’s a pretty much no-go for me.
She picks up her pen in her ungloved hand and scribbles furiously, probably saying that I’m an unfit candidate for menstruation, seeing as I can’t even schedule my own cycle.
I’m lying with my eyes closed when I hear the faint snap of latex closing down on her wrist.
“This’ll be just a moment.” Rattle of metal and plastic. “Ready?”
“Deep breath in, and –”
“Holy crap,” I jump as the speculum slides into me, freezing damned cold. “You’d think you could’ve warmed it up a little or something.”
“Hmm?” Her voice sounds kind of muffled, like she’s bent over and straining.
“Ow – what the hell –” sharp jab to the abdomen from the inside, then a sickening tugging sensation.
“One more –”
The feeling of my insides being scraped out continues, and I start counting ceiling tiles. Anything to get my mind off this. “You know, you could put some posters or something up on the ceiling. Maybe a nice beach scene.”
I gasp as a sudden sucker punch rocks my core, followed by another, coupled with a heavy hand pressing down on my stomach and churning downward. “Goddamnit,” I groaned.
“There, almost done.”
I’m lying flat on my back, trying to breath deeply, and stop my stomach from spewing its contents all over the place, and cursing my friend Jess for recommending this OB/GYN. After listening to me complain about years of indifference from male doctors, she suggested I give this new female one a try.
Maybe I should have gone down to the local boxing league instead.
I can hear Ice Queen shuffling through her notes, the pen scratching, and then she stood up. “We’ll call if there’s any problems with the test, but otherwise we’ll see you in a year. You can book with the receptionist on your way out.”
Faint click as the door shuts behind her.
As I sit up on the exam table and clutch the shredded paper towel to my chest, I eye the discarded instruments on the metal cart and think, doesn’t matter if they’re male or female. They put that crap inside you, they’re all pricks.
Marley Anderson is a freelance writer and up-and-coming novelist who spends far too much time on side projects and not enough time on novels. Her website (and Twitter profile) are sadly yet another work in progress.