The waiting room crackles. Not in an excited way; just stale. Kind of like everyone there is still recycling the versions of themselves they brought in last time. If you really think about it, you probably know most of them; there’s that old man with the plastic foot brace, and there’s that woman with the baby who won’t stop crying. She hardly looks a year older than you. The desk clerk keeps shooting her surreptitious glances.

The magazine on the small plastic collapsing table is the same, too. You pick it up, feel its greasy skin soak into your pores. There’s a nice article in here about dolphin conservation, if you remember right. The pages fall open across your lap. A suited man with very white teeth offers to sell your house right away.

You flip onwards, and the pages crackle like the people around you. The clock on the wall seems ridiculously loud. Your mother is late again.

Eventually the peeling swing-doors next to the clerk’s desk fly open, and a man strides through them. He scans the room, sees you, and glides over to clasp your hand. His teeth glitter. His palm is freezing.

“Your mother will be just another moment,” he says, his smile leaking cold into the words. “Can I get you some coffee?”

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