I found myself waiting in a small white room, the generic kind that is omnipresent in publicly funded buildings that leaves the visitor feeling cold. The kind that leaves the visitor with a distinct feeling that time passes slower inside here than it does outside there. I was here for myself, that much I knew, but I was also with my wife who had gone off to get some coffee. Although I had noticed that she had been some time by the time I noticed that she had left. This frayed my already nervous temper somewhat some-more and I found myself clutching the broadsheet newspaper with a tighter grip than usual, so much so that I could see the spots of whiteness in my pallid flesh, the pressure of over-exertion, of the body not quite being able to push around as much blood as it would like.
Although the room was small I found myself seated on one row of twenty chairs, which was one of three or four. I was sat directly opposite the double brown doors that I had come through to reach this waiting room. At the other end of the waiting room there was a corridor which I knew had the offices stationed in discreet intervals. The only entertainment to be had was to view either a dull aging telly whose monotonous outpourings couldn’t be heard or to read through the much fingered magazines and papers, which happened to be some years out of date. I couldn’t imbue the feeling that the papers were out of date for a reason, that this calmed the reader down because he knew ahead of the papers what would happen the day after what they had stated.
The room shifted again and appeared smaller and I larger. There was no telling where this would end.
The information packet that I had received before the appointment entailed little of use, no discrete instruction or direction. Just a time and a date. Of course I knew why I had to come to but not the reason I needed to come. The building was suffocating and it was suffocating my thoughts. I thought that if I had to stay longer, without my name being called out, without an actual person pointing towards me, without wanting me, that I then would leave this place of my own free accord. But of course I could not put a time value on the present moment, I just knew I had to feel it to enact it
Again the room shifted, lurched on its axis and scrunched inwards and became smaller still.
I didn’t mind, I had a seat and a paper and my wife would soon be by my side. I reasoned that my name, whichever it happens to be today, will soon be called and I will be designated another temporary space to call my own. This was the routine, this was how it was organised, and we all had to play along.
I put down my paper and surveyed the other individuals who had been called here, on the same day as me no less. I took a quick head count: 24 people. 13 male and 11 female, none under the age of 19 or so and few over the age of 60. I was approaching that boundary myself. This did not give me hope. The double door shunted open with a protest and I was delighted to see my wife again. Although she appeared irritated and was not carrying the cups of coffee I had so hoped for.
The room shifted once more, this time compacting down to a minute size. It only just allowed myself and my wife the space we needed to sit down next to each other, to look at each other in the eye, and to hold our hands together.
My name was called.