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Brown. Light brown linoleum. Brown faux-wood-paneling. Brown water spots on ceiling tiles. Brown faces that look old, tired, as aged as the building. Even the young people look like they’ve been there forever, like they’ve been forgotten, left in a place that was built 50 years ago and never thought of again. I’ll be forgotten, too. I’ll be here forever.

Down the hall, a yellow light bathes the blue-green walls in dinginess. Gray streaks where carts have rubbed, white chips and gouges, cracks break the curse of the too-strong wall color. People work here. Things are done here. I wouldn’t have guessed it from the way the receptionist is sitting at the desk, by the postures of the people in the waiting area. Slumped shoulders, bowed heads, folded arms, closed eyes.

I take my own seat. Look around. Watch the 7-year-old hide under her pink blanket, pull it off with a smile. Her brother is not amused. But I am. There’s no other life in this place. Just terse voices, clipped sentences, impatience on the other side of the waiting area doors. Impatience. Irritability. Frustration. With being forgotten? With the somber palette? With me? I don’t belong here. It’s not my place or time. I’m the wrong color, the wrong age. I can’t slump. Or bow my head. I can’t fold my arms. And I certainly can’t close my eyes. I watch. I scan the room. I try to see beyond the closed doors and gruff voices and tired faces. I see every second the clock ticks.

It ticks and ticks and ticks. Nothing changes. Nothing ever has. And if I don’t change something, I really will be there forever. I stand up and approach the desk.

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