We debute a short story by Iman Ali for this month’s theme titled “Three Letters” We hope you enjoy ^^
The heat was buzzing its way out of the asphalt. The outlines of houses, the cars parked on the street, the people passing by her were hazy. Her heartbeats were quickening as she turned to step up the small staircase and sighed as a sharp wave of cold air enveloped her sweat-ridden body.
The baby in her arms cooed as if she too was rejoicing and her mother chuckled under her breath.
She went up to the receptionist and asked after her appointment. She pushed her health card towards him and was urged to sit down and so she did.
The waiting room was divided into gents and ladies but people willfully ignored the signs and the men and women sat together on both sides.
She sat down in the “gents” section and crossed her legs, pulling down her abaya so her legs would not show. She whipped out her phone and started going through her usual text-heavy daily websites. Her baby kept tapping the phone’s screen with her chubby fingers and her mother expertly kept it out of reach but still close enough that she could read.
For some reason she felt like she was being watched which was not the oddest thing. It was a waiting room, after all, and people watching was a bit of an art. The quarters were a little too cramped and sparse for it to be practiced here, though. She was starting to feel a little discomfitted and so flitted up her eyes to glimpse a look at who was watching her.
It wasn’t the man, but the woman. Oh, but before she glanced away, the man had looked, too. He didn’t look at her, though, as much as he looked at her baby.
She wasn’t very bothered by their staring as much as she was by the fact that they seemed a little annoyed. She felt taken aback by this sentiment. Her baby was not being noisy. Her diaper wasn’t dirty so there were no smell to bother them.
Feeling like being annoyed right back was the only appropriate response, she furrowed her brow and directed her full attention back at her phone, occasionally tutting at her baby.
She glanced up as a patient came and went and another yet entered. Feeling suddenly drained she plopped her phone back into her bag and began playing with her baby. She placed the back of her hand on her palm and began the trek of an imaginary teddy bear around her little hand and made it step up her arm where she eventually tickled her. The baby was used to this routine and shrunk away releasing sounds of ill restrained excitment when her mother’s fingers wiggled in her side.
The woman promptly got up and walked past the mother and child.
“Oh, I was just going to call you,” the nurse said, smiling. “You’re Fatimah Ahmed?”
“Yes,” the woman said tightly.
The man got up, adjusting his ghitra upon his head before slowly making his way across the room towards the little hallway that connected the doctors’ rooms.
Unable to contain her curiosity, the mother turned around to see which room they had entered and then felt her anger quickly deflate as she read the three letters by the door’s side: “IVF”.
Author: Iman Ali