The bright and inviting waiting room had pale-green walls that smelled of disinfectant. On one side, opposite the chair-lined walls, a small counter awaited us.
“May I help you?” The receptionist appeared to be in her mid-twenties. She acted as if this were the most normal thing around. For me, it was the most daring thing I had ever done. I am sure that it was for Salisha too.
The receptionist chatted with us as if we had dropped by to get our teeth cleaned. My hands were sweating; my upper lip followed suit; and my stomach did unfamiliar maneuvers. At the same time, I became aware that my toes were bent in my tennis shoes as if to hold on to the floor (or a slippery slope). I think we filled out some paperwork. My mind was speeding and ricocheting like the little metal balls in a pinball machine.
“Which of you would like to see the doctor first?”
A tall young man appeared next to our table. He couldn’t have been younger than nineteen, and it looked like there was another man his age right behind him. From the first man’s slight smile came a slow drawl that was difficult to follow at first. He had the drawl of my mother’s family from East Texas rather than the soft Mid-South accent Salisha and I had grown to enjoy.
“Would you, ladies, mind if my friend and I joined y’all? I asked him a question rather than answering his.
“Where are you two from?”
The second man answered, “We’re Navy. He’s from Texas, and I’m from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Mind if we sit down with you?”
I looked at Salisha as she looked back at me. Of course, we wanted them to sit down! My mind heated up as I searched for the answer that would not show our eagerness but would ensure they did sit with us.
“Sure, why not?” Salisha answered, and the men sat down.