in Moscow.

by s.m.

In the morning she showered haphazardly.  She washed her hair and shaved her legs distractedly, when she tried to watch, around her ankles and knees, she noticed her hand was shaking.  It seemed to take an extraordinarily long time to rinse the conditioner out of her hair.  She took her time drying it because she felt like it was important for her hair to look nice, so the doctor would take her seriously.  She wore a lot of moisturizer but little makeup, a grey striped cashmere crewneck and her fat jeans.

Selim had waited for her and rode with her in the Mercedes to the doctor’s office.  He checked her in at the sleek, modern reception desk with the doll-like receptionist, wide-eyed and perfectly coiffed, pouty pink lips that repeated her name after him.  Then he sat with her in the leather armchairs, flipping through magazines, listening to soft American music, until a uniformed nurse opened a door and called her name again, butchering the syllables abruptly.

He squeezed her hand and kissed her forehead, then walked with her and handed her off to the nurse.

“The driver will be waiting for you,” he said.  “Good luck.  I love you.”

The nurse had taken her arm–firmly, leaving no room for prevarication–and was leading her down the hallway.  Francesca looked down at her shoes, watching them keep walking along the tiled floor.  She wore velvet smoking slippers, they were black with gold embroidered skulls and she was appalled at herself for having worn them.  She looked like a babykiller.