The line

Planned, written and edited with a thirty five minute time limit using the following quotes as inspiration.

1. Start every day off with a smile and get it over with.

2. Smile, it's free therapy.

3. Peace begins with a smile.

4. Your smile will give you a positive countenance that will make people feel comfortable around you.

It’s like being in purgatory in a way. Stuck between earth and the afterlife. neither truly alive nor truly dead. Standing in this line has to be the closest experience that real life can offer to knowing what it is like to be Schrodinger’s cat. Neither here nor there.


They wait for weeks, sometimes months to stand in the line. Sure they might forget about it in the lead up momentarily from time to time, but before they know it, it creeps back into the forefront of their mind. What if, when, how severe? Endless questions without answers until they come and stand in the line.


Getting here is hard enough. The road in is dated, bumpy, but in a way that gives some a sense of peace, knowing they aren’t the first to travel it. They park their car a long short distance from the entrance. There is never a closer park, not around here, not when everyone is making the same walk.


Approaching the building, the glass doors slide open seamlessly, inviting them inside like an alligator laying with its jaw ajar, waiting for someone or something to foolishly swim between its bite. There is no telling whether upon entering this place they will ever come out the same again. As they cross the threshold the air changes, the hot dry smell of the car park is replaced by sterile, clinical air of the waiting room. And then they see it. The line.


Upon inspection, there are certainly a finite number of people in the line. And judging by where they are standing compared to the position of the front door it would seem to be moving, yet time moves differently in the line. Slower, much much slower. The neurologist in the next suite over would say that time seems slower because the brain is in a state of hyperarousal. Every detail the senses have access to becomes painfully obvious. Every smell, sound, site meticulously archived by the brain likely never to be analysed in the future.


And then they arrive. The front of the line. This is the worst part for everyone because the line behind is so long, a seemingly countless number of faces unfamiliar so envious of the premier position, that it would be embarrassing to leave now. There is nothing to do but wait to be called, and with that calling their fate decided.


Next Please.


They shuffle forward, and approach the desk. It all led to this. All the waiting, anticipation, pondering, worrying, crying, reflecting, talking, shouting, loving, lying, living. The oncologist will see you now.


And then it hits them. The smile from the receptionist. That simple, warm reflexive movement of a few specific muscles on the face. An honest invitation read by those in the line clearer than the purest water, causes all the negative emotion to wash away. In that moment they transcend into a state of blissful harmony, forgetting everything about their wait in the line.


Everything will be alright.