Nothing to fear. Nothing to fear. She chanted the words in her mind like an Eastern yogi muttering to himself along a verbal journey to nirvana. Of course, a yogi would not need to ruminate over the silly phrase. He would simply be enlightened.
Lilith held no illusions of her own enlightenment when it came to this strange fluid.
She was frightened. No chant would cure it.
Perhaps Dr. David Burnham could.
His office was as peculiar as his receptionist. Both were large, dark, and shabby. While Burnham seemed to have taste – the oak-lined walls in the reception area and New Hampshire granite floors attested to that – the anteroom was a man's room, decorated by and for men. An oddity for a doctor who treated women for the most part.
“Who is your decorator?” Lilith asked the receptionist, using a finely-honed, clipped voice. Leaving people no choice but to answer an authoritative question had served her well for years. She didn't really care about the answer. How the subject replied, though, revealed everything she needed to know.
Silence. Her face was bent down over a manuscript. Thick black waves of hair streaked with the occasional craggy grey, like broken guitar strings, were twisted into a knot at the base of her head. Tea-stained cotton covered the woman in a tent-like dress, her bosom rising over a misplaced drop waist. The effect made her appear to have stuffed a pillow in a bra the size of a saddlebag.
Tipping her face up slowly, the receptionist's sharp eyes belied her mollasses demeanor. Raven black, pupils blending into the iris like spilled ink. An angry scar from right nostril to ear, covered with a sad attempt at pancake powder.
“I wouldn't know. The doctor has kept his office as such since I began working here, Miss.” Gravel mixed with sand came forth in her voice, the words infused with an Irish lilt. Lilith wondered who gave her that scar.
And then the receptionist stood, towering a good foot over Lilith. “Excuse me while I attend to a pressing concern,” she said. Limping away, the woman's gait appeared to cause her great pain. Lilith snatched a glance at the desk. A small placard read “Mary Murphy,” a name you could shout in south Boston and hear fifty women cry “aye!” on any given day.
And concern she held for Mary dissolved when Dr. Burnham stepped through a door that was built into a wall panel. He seemed to materialize from nowhere, a spirit at a séance.
“Miss Stone? Do come in. I apoligize for my tardiness.”
She glanced at the clock. He was two minutes late.
“If two minutes is tardy, Dr. Burnham, then you are as exacting a physician as I would wish to see. You inspire confidence.”
“I seek only to find answers, Miss Stone. The rest is a byproduct.”
An arched eyebrow was her reply.
She had come to the right place.
Nothing to fear, indeed.
Monday, October 3, 2011
More from my upcoming prequel to "Legs"
Here's a sample: