She was just sixteen the time her mother asked her "Are you certain there's nothing else wrong?"

And although the top of her mind until that moment had been quite, quite certain she only felt ill because... well, because the drive up the mountain was very twisting and turning, or what she ate for lunch was a little too greasy, or ... something innocuous, at her mother's words she burst into tears.

"no" she said. "i'm not at all sure"

They didn't go to their local doctor - her mother was far too ashamed to face him with this particular problem. So off they set, she in her school uniform, her mother in Sunday Best, to a clinic in the city, set up specially for teenagers in these situations.

The doctors there were very polite, pleasant. Made her feel welcome, and hardly stupid at all for finding herself in this predicament.

They weighed her. Measured her. Gave her advice, and a booking to a more specialist place.

She didn't consider not keeping the appointment. The alternative was too hideous to contemplate.

So a week later, again in school uniform she caught the train in to the city, found her way to the clinic and waited.

They checked her urine sample, and her blood pressure. A psychologist talked with her for about 15 minutes, and then she was sent to undress.

She wasn't frightened, not even a little. There was no room inside her for fear, or worry, or anxiety, or any emotion. Her insides were filled with damp cotton wool, and as she changed into the white hospital gown and packed her own clothes neatly away she felt as she thought a robot might feel as it went in to be serviced.

"Only this is more an unservicing, really" she thought, and she giggled, almost silently, and then clapped her hand over her mouth, shocked at her own irreverence in such a place.

They came for her at last, and wheeled her in a chair to the little room specially for giving anaesthetics to people.

She lay on a gurney and looked up into a bright light. The light was warm on her face... almost too warm. She squinted up at it until she felt someone fiddling at her hand, and turned her face to watch the needle sliding in under the skin of the back of her hand.

"Count to ten for me" a voice said

"One... Two... WHEEEEEEEEeeeeee.........." She answered...

...And all was black.


Thanks for the challenge, Byzantine

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