Screens

Pale green glass is dreaded confetti on every kerbside, and I park up, anyway, near the Travelodge, after first seeing them out at the Medical Centre. Braced, all balance, as if walking into the sea, my parents’ sudden bursts of purpose continue to catch me off guard and most usually by a car with open doors. I rejoin them, noiselessly seated in the waiting area, which is a riot of overlapping announcements: half scaring-the-crap and half admonishments; beating out the hard-line on No-Shows to the very people here who are not No-Shows and who wonder what other lives happen, to be one.
Dad points often at the appointment screen and to his right I can make out Mum saying aloud the name of the patient displayed. They are many things, my folks, but they’re not completely daft, and they can see that the allotted appointment rooms are wrongly numbered on the TV screen.
Another elderly man comes in with his cough and they sit oddly close to me, and I realise that I’m probably in their seat.
A young mother over by the leaflets looks familiar; I think we are related. When her name comes up for Room 2 (s/be Room 1) it’s sure enough the surname from Cork, and I place her from a photograph as the other half of one of Pat’s youngest. I don’t trouble Mum and Dad with this, and am rewarded by our later bumping into a different cousin by the cakes in Sainsbury’s. As it is, I don’t know if the name on the screen is her’s, or is her baby daughter’s.
We come back again later, but this time for Dad’s appointment. The arrivals screen doesn’t recognise him, and in his determination to speak to the Receptionist as it instructs, he attempts to walk right through the ‘Queue Here’ ribbon, which elastication is forgiving to a point, but then the two posts start to topple and it’s all too Biblical, this feat, while I’m repeating ‘Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad’, so that I begin to sound like a bird.
Screens Dad 2
Between these appointments I go with my parents to the library. Dad, like me, looks at books of photographs documenting old Leeds. We share the habit of checking how often a book’s been borrowed; neither of us clocking that all the stamps stop at some point in 2011 because that’s when the new scanners and touch-screens came in.
Her head well over to one side, Mum searches for Crime in Large Print.
Dad has started getting up to shave in the middle of the night.

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About Stevie Mitchell

I come from a long line of cartoons and beer. I was once peed on by a tiger. Hoping the resultant super-powers are yet to come, cos if these are they, then, grrrr....
This entry was posted in Creative Writing, Family History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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