Something is hanging heavy over the front desk.
Behind it the receptionist wears a crown of lights and sensors. I’ve never seen anything like it. All the patients ask her if she’s alright.
A woman-maybe-nurse appears, starts going on about some nameless painkillers with the thickest South Philly accent I’ve ever heard, no, you really need the good stuff; don’t they give you the good stuff?
Mask-muffled she waddles in, no scuff-shoes out to see about those pills. A man with a wristband blinks at the ceiling, calm tears as futile as when he arrived.
My partner walks through the double doors, wet pupils and surgical blue eclipsing their face. The space over the front desk gets heavier.
The receptionist’s crumbling lashes reach between the headache and the precious veil; the eyes beneath beg for relief. She never came back with the good stuff.
At nine p.m. the receptionist takes a splash of hand sanitizer and is on her way. I don’t think I saw her take the headband off. I imagine that her temples throb when she stands, and when she hits the clammy air, and when she checks the backseat of her car.
Lindsay Hargrave is a performing poet with recent and upcoming publications in giallo, Maudlin House and Armstrong Literary. She performs with the improvised music group Oarsman and the indie pop band Mỹ Tâm (@sunflowerintheeast), and lives in West Philly with many dying houseplants. Follow her on Twitter @notporkroll.