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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)

TITLE: <i>What if ...</i>
By Sheri Gordon


Maggie sat in the waiting room, absent-mindedly bouncing her leg and thumbing through a magazine. Although she would never buy one, Maggie gave herself permission to indulge in gossip rags only when she was stuck in waiting rooms. Besides, she wasn’t really reading any of it; she was simply occupying her time with mindless pictures.

Brad and Jennifer are back together? When did that happen? Maggie flipped to the front of the magazine. 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. 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 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.

“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. If I put my head down and walk fast, maybe nobody will notice I’m leaving.

“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. Like watching a bad horror movie. Mechanically, she changed into the gown. 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.

“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 – from the chemicals or from fear?

“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.”

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?

“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”.

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.

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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This article has been read 900 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pam Carlson-Hetland08/30/07
Oh, this is wonderful. I followed along breathlessly waiting for the momentous, life-altering decision to be revealed. Then I burst into laughter! Wow, great job. Loved this!
Ann FitzHenry08/30/07
Hahaha! Loved it! Thanks for making me smile.
Rhonda Clark08/30/07
This is funny. All the way through I was trying to figure out what she was about to have done. Good job.
Jan Ackerson 08/31/07
As I read this, so many possibilities went through my mind for the procedure she was about to endure. I literally laughed out loud at the end, and I never do that. The best thing is, you played absolutely fair, choosing precisely the right words to lead us down the garden path. Excellent!
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/01/07
I'm usually the deer in the headlights, but I guessed what was going on here and enjoyed every minute of the ride. Great story.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/02/07
Great Suprise Ending! I almost didn't finish this story as I figured it was going to be one of those "Pro-Choice or Pro-life" scenarios; however, I thank you for proving me wrong - it was most enjoyable, enchanting and delightful ... with a chuckle to boot! Thanks a mint! I loved it!
Jacquelyn Horne09/05/07
It's been a long time since I entered a beauty parlor, but I don't remember going through this process for a cut and dye.This is well written, however. And what a surprise ending!
Dee Yoder 09/05/07
You got me! But, in my vast experience, the RESULTS are what leave me frightened...I can't tell you how many times I went home and said, "Why'd I DO that?!" Expert writing kept me pinned to this story all the way through. Thanks for the much needed laugh this morning!
Sherrie Jackson09/05/07
You scared the mess out of me!!! Good grief...

I too don't recall changing into a gown just to get my hair done, but I understand you needed a certain level of pretense; can't fault you for that. Job well done, from beginning to end!
Patty Wysong09/05/07
I went through all that emotion with Maggie for a cut and a color job?!? Oh!! But I'm glad it was just that and not something worse. Great job!! :-) Hugs!
Janice Cartwright09/17/07
I thought of just about every scary medical procedure one could face including tatoos, face-lifts, and the awful A-word but never once did a cut and color job enter my mind. You absolutely capture my attention from beginning to end. No way was I going to stop reading until I found out what this one was. Wow! Really good at suspense building and yes, I was scared out of my toenails.