An Uninvited Diagnosis

he was a plain-looking woman.  Shoulder-length straight mousey-brown hair with severe bangs.  An oval face with with the trace of pockmarks from childhood acne.  But it was her eyes--her luminous brown eyes--that captivated me.  They were enormous and such a deep brown that it was like looking into a tunnel, with the distance fading to utter black.

She gave a sniff of apparent disdain and gave me a once-over.  I because suddenly aware of how poorly I was dressed, how insignificant I appeared.  I wanted to look down; I wanted to make excuses for how I was dressed, but no words came.

"Jenna Braun. Mild depression with bouts of aphasia." the lunch-lady said as if she was commenting on the weather.  I felt a stirring of discord and my stomach rumbled.

My mouth worked soundlessly for a moment, then it felt like the world shifted.  "What?"  I asked, aware that I could breathe, could talk.  "What are you on about?  I'm not--"

A momentary spasm of emotion washed across the lunch-lady's face, then her lips curled into a slight sneer.  "And severe emetophobia." "  She said with conviction. "Just like Molly."

The gentle breeze of the fan behind the counter caught the edges of her hair, moving the lank tips slightly.  But it was enough to break my concentration.

I gave her a weak smile.  Perhaps here, the inmates also served.  Sort of like a prison, where some worked doing laundry...  Could I trust this woman with the food?  Or was it wrong to already become so paranoid?I didn't even know what Emetophobia was.  Fear of... something.

I started to shuffle on with the rest of the line, then remembered the blonde's admonishment.  "Juice?"  I asked tentatively.

The lunch-woman nodded to the rows of prepackaged juice-boxes, and cellophane-wrapped carrot-cake, her eyes never leaving my face.  I felt profoundly unsettled, but I could not tell why.

The End

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