The nurse mispronounces her name for the third time, “Amret-ta!”
Amrita finally puts the Cosmo magazine she wasn’t reading on top of the stack on the side table and lifts herself out of the torn pleather chair. She keeps her eyes cast down at the berber carpet as she passes the other patients who weren’t reading their magazines really. The door slams shut behind them.
“Amret-ta, take a seat on the bed. There are a few more forms to sign. Release for anesthesia. Do you have a ride?”
She hadn’t asked Len to bring her.
“Well, then, you have to consent for the shuttle…” The nurse sets her clipboard down on the bed tray and adds a yellow sheet to the forms. “Ok. Sign here. Allriiiight. Release for the procedure. Here, there’s the description, everything the doctor already went over with you…initial here…”
Amrita pulls the paper closer. She traces her finger over the page twice, but she can’t focus on these words either. Her dried eyes sting.
“Miss, you need to finish these papers if you’re going to have the procedure.” The nurse taps on the line.
Amrita is too exhausted to deviate again; she had tormented herself enough last night. At twenty-seven years old, she had curled up like a fetus on the floor of her bedroom for hours. Len wasn’t in the bed; the unforgiving wood was all that she had to cradle her.
She draws her initials on the page.
“…and possible side effects….initial here….annnnd sign here.” She signs it- without crossing her t’s or dotting her i’s. “Alllriiiight, Amret-ta, that’ll be it.” The nurse clicks the pen shut and slips it behind the smiling ducks printed on her pocket.
“Strip down and put on the gown, open in the front.” The nurse taps on a plastic bag, picks up the clipboard and pivots on her heels. She tugs the curtain closed around Amrita.
Amrita undresses and pulls the gown around her shoulders. She knots each of the three ties, lies back on the bed and stretches the thin blanket up to her chin. She settles her hands over her abdomen and, a moment later, she jerks them to her sides.
The nurse returns with an IV stand. Amrita hardly flinches as the needle pricks her vein. “Allriiiight. An orderly will be here shortly to take you on over.” Her face softens for a moment, “Don’t worry, hon, it will be done soon enough.”
Amrita is alone again. And later she’ll be alone because she didn’t have the words to explain the unease in her gut to Len. She turns her head and watches the IV drip.
She looks up.
The orderly slides open the curtain and asks to check her wristband. She nods and he rolls her arm towards him. He leans down, unlatches the breaks on the front wheels and guides her stretcher across the room until it collides with the swinging doors.
Armrita watches the lights pass overhead as the orderly wheels her through the corridors. Finally, the operating room door slides open. He pushes her into the room and she hears the door thud against the frame.
The orderly and a nurse shift her over to the operating table. The doctor greets her, “Good morning, Amrita. Are you ready?”
She’s ready for the reprieve.
“Can you move up on the table a bit?” Amrita pulls herself up, glances over the cold, gleaming tiles that cover the perimeter of the room.
The darkness closes in around her.
By Kimberly Cecchini