The Waiting Room

Sanika Nalgirkar

It was a normal morning in the waiting room. Just like every day, the receptionist, Linda came into work. She had been working there for 6 months now and still had no idea what her job entailed. Everyday people came into the waiting room, went through a door, and never came out. This just fueled her desire more to know what was behind that door. She had tried to find out the mystery behind the door but was unable to. To this day, she had barely met her employer once, maybe twice.

The entire room was white, the walls, the furniture, Linda’s computer, and even her uniform. It was a white dress. The very white room sometimes made it hard for Linda to distinguish where everything was. She managed though because the carpet in the room wasn’t as bright as everything else and the door people go through every day wasn’t white at all. It was brown. It was different from the rest of the room.

Linda started on her work for the day and soon after she was blessed with a presence. It was an old lady who looked well in her 60s, maybe even 70s. Her colorful outfit brightened the room instantly.

“Hello! My name is Emma. I have an appointment at 11 am.” She said.

“Oh Yes! Let me just check” Linda checked her computer and saw her name on the screen and only her name for the day. Seemed strange as every day, there are almost hundreds of people who come here but she turned a blind eye to that.

“You can go in.” Linda said with a smile and watched Emma as she went through the brown door. Linda sighed and went back to work.

After a while, another person walked into the office. Linda looked up to see a middle-aged woman. She had quite a colorful outfit on. The lady walked up to Linda’s desk.

“Hi! My name is Emma and I have an appointment here at 2 pm.” Linda looked at her with a confused stare. She didn’t recall seeing any other names on the screen.

“uhh… let me check.” Linda said and turned to her computer.

Linda saw that there was in fact an Emma scheduled in a few minutes. And just like in the morning, there was no one else except for this Emma.

“You can go in.” Linda said with a perplexed tone. The woman who came in the morning was Emma too. Was that a coincidence? Linda shook her head and didn’t dwell on it further. She went back to her work.

After a while, again, someone entered the place, and it was a young lady. She seemed almost too young, she looked like a teenager. Just like the previous two ladies, her outfit was colorful. She walked up to the desk while Linda’s eyes were as big as golf balls.

“Hello! My name is-” the girl started talking but was interrupted.

“Emma?” Linda completed her sentence.

“Yes! How did you know?” Emma grinned widely.

“You can go in”

Emma walked to the door while Linda had still not recovered from her shock.

One is a mistake, two is a coincidence but three is a pattern. Was someone playing a joke on her? how could that be? No one knew she worked there. There was no one who could play such a prank on her.

So many thoughts were swirling in Linda’s mind. She was so confused, and she had no way to find out what was going on. There was one way to find out what was going on-to go through that door. But she had never done it before. She was too scared to do it. She didn’t know what would happen to her. It was either the door or nothing at all. Linda was tired and frustrated of not knowing what goes on around here. She wanted some clarity on what was going on today and also what has been going on the past few months.

Linda slowly got up from her chair and proceeded to the door. She stopped for a couple of moments midway, just waiting to see if anyone or anything would stop her. There was nothing to stop her. She advanced towards the door. The rest of the room completely disappeared for her; the sole focus was on that brown door. Her heartbeat rose every second and sweat formed on her palms.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she reached the brown door. She put her hands on the door handle. It felt like every other wooden door. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and opened the door. All she could see was a bright white light. It was so bright, she had to close her eyes. When she could no longer feel the white light, she opened her eyes and was surprised to see where she was.

The people were hustling around, and the cars went by. Linda saw the busy street from the sidewalk. It was a familiar street to her as this was the street, she took to get to work every day. She seemed confused as to why and how she came out on the street. She spotted her office building and went inside. She could feel a slight difference in her body but couldn’t tell what it was.

She went into the room and waited for a while. Was she in trouble? After all, she did something she wasn’t supposed to do. She still hadn’t gained any clarity in what was going on. Now, that she knew going through the door wasn’t much dangerous, she did it again.

The same thing happened, she was faced with a bright white light and again, she was on the street she ended up on last time. She looked around to see if anything was different but, nothing was different. It seemed like a normal morning with people walking and driving around. This time too, she felt a little different. She ran her hands on her body and looked down to see the same outfit she wore in the morning. She shrugged and entered the building again and did the same thing again.

Nothing changed and this time she could feel frustrated and angry. The fact that she was in public cautioned her or else she was ready to let out a screeching scream. This time, her clothes felt a little loose on her. She figured it must have been because she had been walking around and sweating too much. At this point, she was adamant about figuring out what was behind that door. Why was it so hard?

She ran to the building and did it again. Just like the other times, she ended up on the streets. This time, however, she could feel she was shorter in height and her clothes were sagging on her body. She got scared and freaked out. This seemed like a major change, something she couldn’t fix herself. Soon enough she started crying right there on the sidewalk where people passing by could just stare at her. She didn’t care that she was the center of attention. She knew, she just wanted to cry. After a little while, her feet got tired of standing and she sat down on the dirty sidewalk.

She didn’t want to go through that door anymore. She was tired and exhausted. After sitting on the sidewalk for a while, she looked around and her eyes fell on the huge glass building near her. She could see her reflection. She got up and slowly walked towards the building. The reflection on the glass wasn’t her except that it was her. It was her younger self. She looked 9 or 10 years old. She touched her face and her hair. It really was her. She started breathing heavily and her heartbeat started increasing by the second. She was having a panic attack. It isn’t every day one goes to work, and they are 10 years old.

Is this what the door does?

Yes, the door makes you younger.

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