April 13, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about offering to help someone. What’s their situation? What’s yours? Do they think they need help? How is it received? Could you be misinterpreted?
Some years ago I had a cyst in my ear. It hurt. Having hoped it would go away I went to see the doctor. I was in my 20s and not used to the doctors. I had signed on years before but not been in ages. The surgery occupied two terraced houses on Herne Hill.
I gave my name and was told to go to the waiting room. I sat and not much happened. hen a woman came and said to go to the first floor. She seemed to mean me so I climbed the stairs, a little unsure and found a small room with chairs and magazines. This was it, I thought, feeling rather foolish that I had gone to the wrong room and hoping I hadn’t missed my slot.
Minutes passed. I was toying with going back to the reception and checking. ‘The doctor will see you now.’
It was a female voice, not unlike the one who had directed me upstairs. I looked up, just in time to see the figure walking down the stairs.
Damn, I’d be a pillock and should have stayed downstairs. I hurried to follow the woman who clearly intended to show me the doctor’s room. I remember reaching the bottom of the stairs and being mildly surprised to see her opening the front door. I must be in the other terraced house. I thought there was a corridor between them but maybe I had that wrong.
Outside the wind nipped up the hill. The woman had put on a head scarf and was adjusting her coat, an unnecessary palaver, even in November, given we were only going next door.
It was as she turned and saw me staring, a look on her face being somewhere between fear and disgust that the truth dawned on me: this woman was not helping me to my destination but was the last patient merely letting me know I could take her place.
While she hurried away, intent on putting as much pavement between her and this nascent stalker, I turned back into the same building I had entered half an hour before. The woman from reception stood watching me. ‘I thought we’d lost you for a moment.’
She wore one of those questioning expressions that are beloved of smart-arse parents and smug teachers: try explaining your way out of this one, Johnny, it said. I thought she wanted to help, only I misunderstood the extent of her helpfulness.
And the cyst? You don’t want to know.
So to the flash. Mary is definitely in need of help.
He means well
‘Yes, we can access records.’ The young man adjusted his specs. ‘What details do you have?’
Rupert squeezed Mary’s hand. She nodded at him but didn’t want to be distracted. They mustn’t leave out any detail.
The young man finished typing and sat back. ‘A lot of the records are still being transferred from the paper details. So… ah here we are. Katherine Potts. Oh dear.’
‘What is it?’
‘I’m not sure. Can you bear with me?’
Mary and Rupert exchanged a look of concern.
The young man said, ‘Don’t worry. We’re here to help you find your twin.’
If you’d like to read the whole story, click here