THE SHINE JOURNAL

Flash Literature, Poetry, Art and Photography!

KEEP IN TOUCH

by

Catherine DiCairano

 

 

Cassie eased onto the end of the examination table. Prepared with a fresh white sheet, it looked professional and sterile. The stirrups jumped out of the exam table like an arm board in an execution chamber for lethal injection. The instrument tray pulled to the side, displayed gloves and a new tube of lubricant placed on top.

 

The light glistened on the speculum. Upon closer inspection the instrument appeared to smile at her. Her heart palpitated as though she’d run a marathon. Her entire body shook. She looked at her rose-colored patient gown and the soft sheet of matching color draped over her. Her white socked feet looked out of place.

A door closed in the hallway and footsteps sounded faint. The steps became louder and approached her room. The door knob turned. A gentle rap announced his imminent presence. Cassie swallowed. She was naked physically, but also emotionally.

 

“Good Morning, Cassandra.”  The doctor removed his lab coat. He stood at the sink, stepped on a pedal, and the water flowed. Pushing the soap dispenser, the antibacterial golden gel seeped into his palm. He brought his palms together massaging his wrist and each finger. His right hand traveled up his left forearm and then the opposite side copied, ceasing at the elbows.

 

“How are you today?” he asked, looking over his left shoulder.

 

“Fine thanks, you?”

 

“Me? I can’t complain.  How are the kids?”

 

“They’re good.”

 

The soothing sound of the water gave her body more time to remain untouched. His white sneaker retreated from the foot pedal and the crunch of the paper towels filled the room. He took three steps to the instrument tray and opened the package of gloves. A loud smack sounded when they united with his wrists.

 

 Cassie became lightheaded, the time for the exam arrived. The walls began to breathe; they were sucking in all the air. The fluorescent lighting made the setting feel like a dream. She took a breath.

 

He stepped over to her. "Ready? Let's see why you're still having pain." He ripped open the foil package of condoms.  Beads of sweat peppered her upper lip. Her thighs pushed together like they were on fire.

 

 “Cassandra, you’re trembling. Are you nervous?”

 

She nodded yes.

 

He smiled. “Let’s do the pelvic first. I know this is stressful. Lie back; put your feet in the stirrups.”

 

There was no graceful way to put both feet in those things. She slipped her socks into the metal jaws and pulled the sheet down to cover her knees and ankles. She eased herself back down on the table and closed her eyes. Staring at the tiled ceiling, the position reminded her of a stage with the curtains drawn, but she would be the star of this performance. The sound of a wheeling stool moved closer. He turned on the switch for the examination lamp, heat radiated from it. He lifted the sheet that obstructed his view. The metal clanked on the tray.

 

"Lubricant," he said to the nurse.  A package ripped open.

 

“Cassandra?” he asked.

 

“Un-huh?” she answered, knowing his fingers separated her.

 

“A little pressure,” he said.

           

She swallowed. The cool hard metal breached the warm soft flesh. It entered sideways and the partial revolution to upright couldn’t be mistaken. It opened and stretched her. A sound of a screw locked her in that position.

 

 “Cassandra, did you ever notice that a speculum looks like a duck’s bill?”

 

“No.”

 

“Hey, I’m just making conversation,” he said matter-of-fact. “You’re a little tense. Does this hurt?”

 

“No.”

 

The pressure subsided and disappeared. Her body now free of the foreign invasive object. The clatter sounded in the room, metal on metal.

 

 “It’s time for the internal,” he said standing up. The nurse squeezed lubricant on his gloved right fingers. “When you have the pain, does it come and go or is it constant?”

 

“Constant.”

 

He slid his fingers inside her.  His left hand lifted the sheet to expose her abdomen and he moved his hand to her skin’s surface. Gently, he pressed. “Relax a little more.” He paused. “Much better.” Both of his hands worked together.

 

He withdrew his fingers and he pulled the sheet down to cover her flesh. Picking up a towel he wiped the moisture from his gloves. “I’m going to do a transvaginal ultrasound.” He stood at the machine and lifted the condom-covered probe. He squirted it with sterile lubricant and inserted it into her. With a tender touch he rotated the probe and watched the monitor. “This looks fine,” he said, adjusting the contrast button. “You’ve been in so often during this last year, but honestly, it’s all within normal limits.” He withdrew the probe and placed it back in the holder and pulled the sheet to cover her.

 

“I’ll give you a slip for bloodwork and we’ll check your hormone levels. You could consider a second opinion.”

 

“No!” Cassie cried.

 

He touched her shoulder. “Okay, let’s see if the bloodwork shows anything. I really can’t find anything wrong.” He moved his hand away. “You can get dressed.”

 

The door closed. Cassie sat up, took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

 

He couldn’t find anything wrong. There wasn’t anything wrong. Tonight, as usual, she’d park near his house. Tomorrow, she’d watch him stop for his daily coffee. And she hadn’t lied - the pain was constant... the pain of loving him.

           

CATHERINE DiCAIRANO shares...

CATHERINE DICAIRANO, a registered nurse, lives in Connecticut with her husband who is a physician. They have five children. 

You may find more information about her at http://www.catherinedicairano.com or  http://www.myspace.com/catherinedicairano 
 
Motivation: "My motivation for this story was the universal experience of a woman's  (OB-GYN) exam."