Do Not Enter
The only thing Allison could hear was the roar of Henry's car. She watched the road ahead with detachment. She could see the waves of heat rising off the asphalt in the distance, shimmering and distorting the landscape until the car got closer. She didn't know she was crying until the tears dropped onto her clenched hands. She looked over at Henry and saw his lips move and his head nod as he sang to himself. Resentment surged through her.
Henry turned into the parking lot and pulled the car into a space reserved for "Patient Parking." The car was plunged into silence as Henry turned off the engine. Allison fought to catch her breath.
"Ready to go?" Henry asked. He didn't bother to wait for an answer but got out of the car and started up the sidewalk. Allison grabbed the door handle and hesitated.
Henry turned around and came back to the car. He opened Allison's door and reached in to her. "Come on Allie, we agreed this was the best thing."
Allison took Henry's hand, gripping it for support. The humidity of the afternoon assaulted her as heat radiated from the sidewalk. She struggled to put one foot in front of the other. Doubt and uncertainty gnawed at her as they entered the clinic.
She gasped as the cold air inside the clinic swept over her skin. She was shivering as her eyes took in the sparsely decorated room. She made her way to the only vacant chair.
"Oh God," she thought. "This can't be happening. I should be in school right now, not here like this."
The room was bright - too bright. Allison closed her eyes but couldn't block out the endless parade of images.
She and Henry, alone at the lake, caught up in the desire of first love. Unprepared and reckless.
The positive test that couldn't be ignored.
The relief written plainly on Henry's face when she agreed to come here.
The nausea, the lies, the second-thoughts, the fear of disappointing her parents.
Fear gripped Allison now. "God, help me," she cried out in silence. "What should I do?"
She opened her eyes and looked around. She saw a sign on a door next to the nurses' desk that said "Do Not Enter - Patients Only." Everything in the room seemed to fall away except those three words - "Do Not Enter." She stared at them until her eyes burned.
A sudden calm descended upon her. Her breathing was steady, her eyes were clear and she knew what she had to do. Allison stood up and walked out of the clinic. The heat enveloped her like a cocoon.
Henry caught up with her and grabbed her arm. "Where are you going? They just called your name."
"There must be a mistake," she said. "I'm not a patient here."
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