Sunday, 16 June 2019

Write-In 2019: 'The Visitor' by Sarah Mosedale

‘I confess the purpose of your visit is not immediately clear to me,” said Dr Fowler, closing down the desktop screen, removing a smeared pair of glasses and rubbing the back of her thin, pale hand across red rimmed eyes.

The small woman sitting on the other side of the desk in the consulting room said nothing in reply; it was not her responsibility to set the agenda as the doctor was well aware, her presence was quite sufficient.

The doctor shifted in her seat - as a well informed citizen she had, of course, been expecting this day for a very long time but now it had arrived she found herself awkward, at a loss, curiously unprepared.

What were the correct words for the occasion, the correct demeanour, how was she expected to conduct herself, to behave, how should she move her eyes, her hands, did any of it matter?

The visitor sat quietly, relaxed, well presented, generally unremarkable in appearance, a bit of a mouse one might suppose, though a mouse conspicuously at ease in its surroundings.

The doctor shuffled a few papers, fumbled a drawer open, closed it again, caught sight of the wall clock tick tocking through the day like any ordinary day.

Suddenly the time passing, the lack of speech, felt oppressive; surely something should have been said.

The doctor cleared her throat but it seemed the opportunity had been missed.

She could think of nothing to say, not a single word, nothing at all.

The visitor caught her eye, smiled as if politely and rose.

“After you, Dr Fowler,” she said.

They left the room.

The door closed.

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