Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 59
“Hey, Deena; it seems like I just saw you yesterday.”
“I know. It’s weird, right” Deena says to me as I lead her back to treatment room 11.
As we walk, I notice her scoliosis is giving her hell today. When I first started treating her years ago, I made a mistake many new therapists make; I tried to fix the curvature of her spine, an impossible task. I now see my role in a more modest light. I’m a way for her to cope with her chronic pain caused by the two crazy 20 degree curves in her spine.
“So, how was your week?” I ask as we enter my room.
“Meh, the week got away from me, I guess. I felt so good after last week’s massage. Please, repeat what you did then?”
Our little joke. Deena’s always requesting this. Luckily for her, at one point, I took extensive notes on what I did, how long I spent on each area, strokes I used, when I finally added the lotion, etc.
“What about your week?” she asks me.
“Huh, I guess my week slipped away from me too,” I say.
That is vexing, and I don’t know why. My memory is not what it used to be. I keep thinking things will improve, but I feel like I’m just cycling through the days now. One is much like the next. Lather, rinse, repeat; ad nauseam.
“Alright, I’ll let you get undressed, and we will start face up,” I say as I draw back the blanket for her and exit the room. “I’ll be back in two minutes.”
“Hi, Mike,” I say as I enter the break room and begin washing my hands.
“Sup?” he says to me. It seems like that’s all he says anymore.
“Same ole, same ole,” I answer. We laugh humorlessly.
Work is the only place I feel seen anymore. My handful of clients, my coworkers, this place, that is all there seems to be anymore. Honestly, once I leave here each night, I shift into auto-pilot mode. I hardly remember my time between my days here.
Kinky Friedman once said, “Find what you love and let it kill you.”
I have found it, and I’m sure one day it will kill me. And that will be okay. When that day arrives, I will die happily doing what I love doing. Helping people manage, cope with, or move past pain in the quickest way possible.
I walk to the front desk to get the hot towels for Deena’s massage.
“Is Terryn coming in today?” I ask Michelle and James.
“No, she called in,” Michelle answers.
“Weird. It seems like Terryn’s been sick a lot recently,” I say.
Neither one says anything to this, so I return to room 11 and massage my client.
Deena always takes at least a half-hour to get dressed. We schedule her accordingly. While I wait for her to leave, I return to the front desk to see about getting something to eat.
“Anyone making a dinner run today?” Tobi asks Michelle and me. I guess we are anyone.
James received a stretch session from a new therapist and left early.
When I see him walk out the door, I think with inexplicable sadness, ‘Lucky guy.’
Whoa! What was that? I am overflowing with sadness and almost follow him out.
I shake it off, but I have a nagging feeling. I’ve forgotten something, something big.
“Anyone, want the last slice?” I ask.
“No, I never want to see another pizza ever again!” Michelle says.
“Ugh, me either! Why did we order pizza? Again? It seems like all we ever get anymore. I’m getting Chick-fil-a tomorrow.” Tobi says.
I want to tell her that, ‘No, she isn’t getting anything other than pizza tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that.’ Weird.
I pick up the slice and sit down in Terryn’s chair. I’ve got fifteen minutes before my next client. I put my feet up on her desk, which I know she hates, and enjoy my last slice of pizza.
“We should call Terryn,” I say. “See how she’s feeling.”
“Good idea,” Michelle says as she pulls out her phone and dials our manager.
The phone rings five times. Michelle looks like she’s about to hang up.
“Please stop calling me. Please? I can’t do this anymore,” Terryn says, her voice sad and tinny on the tiny phone’s speaker.
A man in a dark hoodie enters the spa. He is carrying a large gym bag.
“May I help you?” Tobi says. Michelle and I walk into the office and shut the door. Terryn is acting unusually, and neither of us wishes to hang up on her abruptly.
“Terryn, what’s going on? You sound upset?” Michelle says.
“Stop calling me. You guys call me every day.”
That seems unfair, but this is feeling like a bad dream.
“What are you talking about?” I say, leaning over Michelle’s shoulder.
“I keep changing my phone number. And yet you guys can still call me? How is that possible?”
Terryn stops talking. We can hear her crying through the phone.
“Changed your phone number? You just called in sick this morning,” Michelle reminds her. “Maybe you need to go to the ER, Terryn? You sound hysterical.”
“I can’t do this again. We’ve done this hundreds of times.”
She’s not making sense at all, but suddenly I know she’s going to ask us about the man in the hoodie next. A shiver runs down my spine.
“She’s going to ask us about …,” I say to Michelle.
“There’s a man in a black hoodie in the lobby now, right?”
Michelle peaks out of the office, confirms that this is true.
“Please run, please get out of there, please,” Terryn says. She sounds exhausted, like she is struggling to stay awake.
“Terryn, you’re not making any sense. Run? Why? Run where?”
“He had a bomb,” Terryn sobs.
What is she talking about? I’m getting legitimately worried about her now.
“He had a bomb,” she says again.
‘Had,’ past tense. Every hair on my neck stands up.
“Please run,” she says, deflated.
“Maybe we should run, Michelle?”
Her eyes go wide. She remembers now; we both remember. We run.
Tobi looks at us, confused. We shout “RUN!” to her, but she’s still talking to the black hoodie.
The blast catches us both as the front door swings open.
It always catches us before we can get out of the spa. Sometimes we are still in the office debating with Terryn, worrying about her mental state only seconds before we are both vaporized by the terrorist’s bomb.
The bomb blast killed seven therapists, one esthetician, six clients, and one terrorist who wore a black hoodie and carried an oversized gym bag.
I’m walking to the front desk to get my next client.
“Hey, Deena; it seems like I just saw you yesterday.”