My office is immaculate. I strive to keep it clean. I feel a clean office is important. Three pencils, all sharpened to the same length, all neatly lined up.
Funny thing is that I only write with pens. But still, never know when you’ll need a sharp pencil. I’m nervous. I shouldn’t be. It’s my job to be a reassuring presence to these kids. I don’t know. Today will be my first…
Maybe I should lower the blinds? They’re nice. Bamboo. I hope it’s not too bright in here. But then again, if it’s too dark, that could leave a bad impression in the kid’s mind. I don’t want his moment to be about me. This isn’t about me or the bamboo blinds, it’s about my patient. Patient.
I’m a counselor, hardly a doctor. Patient is too clinical. I know better. I have to related to this young man as my friend.
I keep rubbing my hands together. They feel sweaty. I’m nervous. I shouldn’t be. Imagine how nervous he is. Or maybe not. Maybe he knows already. I read an article in which sixty percent of patients, friends, know before they are told. It’s the clinical confirmation that’s needed.
Joanne our intern just told me Jeremy has arrived for his results. He’s early. I can’t make him wait in the lobby. How do I tell him? Do I get right to it? Jump right in? Do I smile? How do I reassure him? Fuck, again this is not about me. This is about Jeremy, a young man, he’s twenty-two, a baby and when I look at him and say “I’m sorry the test came back positive”
“Good morning Jeremy. I have your test results. The news isn’t good.”
“Your test is . . . No. You are positive?”
“I’m sorry.” Of course I’m sorry. Genius.
Floyd County College is a small liberal arts college. We fought hard to have testing and counseling available in our medical center for the students, and now I regret all of it. I don’t want this responsibility. I don’t want to tell Jeremy his results. I’m in over my head. I’m a coward who sits at a shiny desk with bamboo blinds and fucking brochures and bowls of condoms.
Jeremy is sitting in the lobby. I can’t keep him waiting. “Joanne, send him in please.”