Saturday, January 26, 2013

Short Story: Medical Gown

A snippet of the chapter I'm writing:

"Hey!" I yelled, without thinking, and shoved the doctor away from me with both hands. Then I stopped and just stood there, clutching my blouse and waiting for him to hit me.

Instead, he laughed. It wasn't a mean, sarcastic laugh, but the good-natured, spontaneous laugh of someone who's just been surprised by something so funny it can't be contained.

"We have a nervous one," the other doctor remarked.

"You do realize, I hope," said the first doctor, stepping toward me again, "that we can't do this with your clothes on."

"Perhaps she doesn't know why she's here," the second one suggested. "Do you know why you're here?" he asked me.

"No," I admitted, still holding the front of my blouse, "I have no idea why I'm here, actually. If you could fill me in, that'd be great."

"You're here for a medical exam."

"Oh, I knew that part. I just don't know why I'm here - on this station."

"That, I don't know, either," he said. He nodded to the first doctor, who quickly grabbed the back of my blouse with both hands, tore it from top to bottom and tossed it on the floor.

"Why--" I sputtered, "what did you do that for?"

"We need to remove your clothing for your exam," he answered, starting to reach for my shorts.

"Wait," the second doctor ordered.
The first doctor gave him a quick bow, then stepped back from me and said, "We can't examine you properly without access to your body."

"That doesn't mean you have to rip them off me!" I spat out.

He just stood there and looked at the second doctor, like he was waiting for permission to proceed, and the second doctor gave him a quick glance and looked back at me. His eyes were smiling like he was watching a puppy chase its tail.

I placed my hands in front of me on the exam table and straightened my shoulders. "I don't know how you do things here," I said reasonably, "but where I come from they give you a gown and leave the room, and you take your clothes off and put the gown on."

"Is the gown transparent?" the first doctor asked.

"Transparent?" I said. "No, the gown is not transparent."

"Then how do your doctors conduct medical exams," asked the first doctor, "if they can't get to your body?"

"They get to your body."

"They don't get to my body," he snickered.

"They get to the patient's body," I clarified. I wondered if they were wearing out my patience by design, or just having some twisted fun with me.

"I don't believe I understand you," he said, turning serious. "If you're wearing a gown during the exam, then how do the doctors get access to your body?"

"They move the gown out of the way."

"Then why wear the gown in the first place?" asked the first doctor, looking genuinely puzzled.

"Well, will you at least let me take them off, instead of ripping them?" I asked.

"Go ahead," the second doctor shrugged. "But I don't see what difference it makes. You're only going to recycle them anyway."

I bit my lip and mentally counted to ten, forced a smile and said, "I would like to have something to put on when I get out of here."

He shook his head, like I was the one being difficult. "I gave you permission to remove your own clothing," he said. "I should think you'd want to take advantage of my indulgence while you still have it." He gave a brief nod to the first doctor and turned and walked away.

I nodded to the first doctor and waited for him to leave, too, but he just stood there with his arms crossed, staring at my shorts. "Can you let me get undressed, then?" I asked him.

"Go ahead." The fingers of his right hand rose from his left bicep for an instant and settled back again, in rhythm with the rise and fall of his hairless eyebrows and the movement of his lips. Otherwise, he didn't move.

I undressed.

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