Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)
TITLE: <i>What if ...</i>
By Sheri Gordon
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<i>Brad and Jennifer are back together? When did that happen?</i> Maggie flipped to the front of the magazine. <i>Of course – it’s two years old. What did I expect in a waiting room? And why’d he leave her in the first place? Her hair’s way better than Angelina’s.</i> In frustration, Maggie jammed the dated periodical back into the wall rack hanging next to her.
“Maggie? Relax. You’re going to be okay. Nothing will go wrong. And when it’s all over, you’ll be really glad you did it.” Maggie was grateful that her best friend had come with her.
“I don’t know, Katelyn. We could just leave now – I don’t have to do this. I’m scared.” <i>I can just go on living the way I’ve been living for years. This really isn’t necessary – besides, it’s not so bad the way it is now. This is strictly a ‘quality of life’ decision, and my life is actually pretty good. Plus, there are no guarantees that I’m going to feel any better after this is done.</i>
“Of course you’re afraid. That’s normal. I was scared to death, too, but in the long run it was the right thing to do. I’ve never regretted it.”
“Maggie Horner? We’re ready for you now.”
Maggie stood up slowly and looked from the young brunette woman with a ponytail, to her best friend, to the Exit sign. <i>If I put my head down and walk fast, maybe nobody will notice I’m leaving.</i>
“It’s okay Maggie. I’ll stay right here. I’ll be the first person you see when it’s done.” Katelyn gave Maggie a gentle push toward the auburn ponytail.
“Hi, I’m Carly. You can change in the second room on the right – there are gowns in the room. When you’re ready just step outside the curtain, and I’ll take you to the prep area.”
Standing in the four-by-four cubicle, gown in hand, Maggie felt as if she were outside herself, watching the whole experience develop in slow motion. <i>Like watching a bad horror movie.</i> Mechanically, she changed into the gown. <i>These are pretty – and they look new. They’re made from a much thicker fabric than I remember, and the ties actually work. The feel of the cotton material is comforting.</i>
“Ms. Horner? Are you ready?”
Maggie timidly stepped from behind the curtain and followed Carly and her bouncing ponytail to the prep area. The aroma of multiple chemicals infiltrated her nostrils, making her instantly nauseous. Her eyes filled with water – <i>from the chemicals or from fear?</i>
“This is Bobbie. She’ll be finishing all the prep work with you.” Carly gave Maggie a knowing smile. “Relax Ms. Horner. You’re in really good hands, and it will all be over before you know it.”
<i>Easy for you to say, Miss Ponytail. I’m the one who can’t leave, who’s stuck here until it’s done, and who might be permanently damaged … irreparably scarred for life. What if they cut something they’re not supposed to? What if it makes things worse instead of better? What if there’s an earthquake in the middle of this? What if they make a mistake they can’t fix?</i>
“We’re done here, Ms. Horner … they’re ready for you in the next room. You have nothing to worry about. Carly’s right -- you’re in the best hands in the county. I’ll take you on in.” Bobbie’s gentle voice brought Maggie out of her “what ifs”.
<i>Why am I doing this? I could just yell ‘stop’ now. No – you’re going to go through with this. You know it’s the right decision. You’ve waited too long to get to this point, and you’re not turning back now. Lots of women do this every day – with great results. You are not going to chicken out now.</i>
The bright lights startled Maggie as she was taken to the next room. She quickly surveyed her surroundings; the metal tray, the instruments, the antiseptic, goopy liquid stuff, sharp scissors, and finally the woman in the white smock coming towards her.
“Good morning, Maggie. So, we’re doing a cut and color today? How short did you want to go?”
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