On Doctor's Orders

Entry by: quietmandave

23rd January 2017
A Man and a Pill

I've had prescriptions before - athlete's foot, antivirals for shingles, antibiotics for yet another February sore throat. If I was being completely honest, some tablets for Chlamydia a few years ago also. You sign, you pay, you leave with a little box of tablets in a white paper bag, you read the instructions, possibly the side effects, you take the course and a week later you're back on your feet.

But this time is subtly different. There is no queue in the pharmacy and I walk to the counter as if acting, conscious of my movement in the eyes of others. The young lady at the counter doesn't stop to pass a casual remark, she just takes the prescription and turns to the pharmacist behind her. Her smile is less friendly than I remember, more sympathetic. She looks away; perhaps she thinks I might 'do something' whatever that means. The doctor had asked if I feel like doing anything.

I sit down and wait on one of the three battered chairs to one side, realising a tear is drying in the corner of my eye. The same tear that I promised myself I would not shed in the doctor's surgery. But when it came to explaining, talking through what was happening in my life, it just squeezed out. Did I really believe that the doctor hadn't seen it? Of course she had.

I glance at the other person waiting, a woman holding a dummy, as her baby comes into view around the end of the aisle. There are so many reasons she might be here. I wonder if it the same as me? It's not a reason I would ever have considered before. Hers is probably something routine, but then again do we ever know what anyone is waiting for in a pharmacy? I search the woman's face for clues, but she just gives a friendly smile, then immediately turns to her child and holds out the dummy which the little boy sucks enthusiastically.

They call me back to the desk and I confirm my address. The pharmacist tips her head to one side as if to wish me luck, hope that this does the trick, and of course, I'll see you next month. Still, I imagine that she has told everyone why I am here, and as I step outside I am relieved when I feel the cold air of spring on my face.

I stuff the white paper bag hard into my jacket pocket and zip it up, flattening the bulge as best I can. This is my secret.