Bite Size Stories are a series of short fiction pieces from my mind to yours, delivered weekly.
Lionel approached the counter with a leaden stride. A redhead with buttermilk skin stared back at him. She handed him a folder with papers and a pen.
“Hand these back in when you’re done,” she said and ended with a toothy grin.
“Thanks,” he leaned in and squinted at her name tag, “Rebecca.”
He sat down on the chair closest to the counter and began writing. His pen glided across the page from box to box; these tasks had become so routine to him now. Every now and then, he glanced up from his paper to study Rebecca’s face. Her crystalline eyes were downturned most of the time, but every so often when his timing was right, he caught a flash of their glass-blue brightness.
“Here you go,” he said, and handed the papers back to her.
“Thanks,” Rebecca said while opening the folder, “Mr. Sampson.”
“Oh, no need for formalities, dear, Lionel will do just fine.”
In return, she let out a giggle and said “Ok, sure. Lionel it is then. Why don’t you take a seat and I’ll call you up when he’s ready.”
He turned back toward his chair, but quickly pivoted. “Say, where’s Sandy anyway? I thought she worked on Tuesdays?”
“Oh, she switched back to working only weekends a while back,” said Rebecca.
Fawn colored freckles danced across the bridge of her perky, up-turned nose. They had escaped his attention the first time.
“Oh, ok then.”
Lionel returned to his seat, one in a row of vinyl covered chairs with chrome legs and plastic hand rests, as stiff as the air that filled the room. A familiar nothingness surrounded him. He shifted his weight from hip to hip, trying to find a comfortable position, but gave up after a couple attempts and rifled through the stack of Reader’s Digests on the table across the aisle. He rose from his seat too quickly for his deteriorating frame and his knees buckled slightly, forcing him to brace on the hand rests. Nothing worth a second glance. A light flickered toward the end of the corridor; a florescent light bulb had just burned out. Just like that it went from working perfectly to not at all. A peek at his watch revealed the slow moving minutes—only twenty had passed.
Rebecca began peeling an orange at her desk. Its fragrant rind and supple flesh permeated the room. It called attention to her delicate fingertips and the ease with which she was able to navigate this piece of fruit. Lionel wrung his hands together and massaged his swollen knuckles. It was her youth that haunted him. He wanted to steal some from her, bottle it up and keep it in his pocket.
The phone rang.
“Lionel, the doctor will see you now.”