163: Cross Examination

on February 22, 2008 in 06: A Period of Conflict

In Which Mackenzie Is Subjected To A Barbaric Ritual

The healing center didn’t seem any busier than the last time I’d been there. The middle-aged woman behind the counter looked like an actual receptionist more than a healer, though, so maybe looks were deceiving.

Or maybe her looks were deceiving and she was a healer.

“Hi there,” she said. “What can we help you with today?”

“I’m… um… having some pain,” I said.

“Alright, just fill this out,” she said, handing me a card-sized form and a pen. I took them, registering a second too late the tingling in my fingers, which burned with pain at the touch of the pen.

“Ow, fuck!” I yelled, dropping it.

Excuse me?” the receptionist said.

“It’s blessed,” I said.

“What? No, it isn’t,” she said.

“It burned me,” I said.

“It’s just a pen,” she said, picking it up and holding it out towards me.

I stepped back, but held up my injured fingers.

“Look!”

“Why would a blessed pen burn you?” she asked.

“Can I please just get another one?” I asked.

The receptionist tilted her head and looked at me over the top of her glitter-encrusted glasses. She didn’t have quite the same effect as Amaranth.

“Are you sure you don’t want next door?” she asked.

“You know what, I’ll use my own,” I said. I set my book bag down and rummaged in it.

“Honestly, all this fuss over a pen,” she said.

“Hey, what’s going on?” a blonde-haired girl in white robes said, coming through a curtained door behind the counter. She was good-looking in a very predictable sort of way, and her ears had a slight point to them… maybe a quarter elf.

“This young lady doesn’t like our pens,” the receptionist said. “Says they’re blessed.”

“Oh! Um, they are,” the girl said. “I was alone at the counter over lunch, and I blessed them.”

“Why would you bless the pens?” I asked, pain and crankiness overwhelming what would have been my more typical response to a tall, thin, pretty blonde girl.

“I thought it would be a nice way of bringing a little good will to our patients,” she said. “Also, I was bored.”

I glared at her.

“What?” she asked.

“Some people can’t handle blessed items,” I said.

“Yeah, but, only like demons and shit, right?” she said.

Oh, she would make a fabulous priestess some day. I could just picture it: “Okay, so, like, let’s all totally praise mighty Khersis, or something?”

I held up my hand to show her the burn marks. She blanched and backed away through the curtain. I sincerely hoped she wasn’t the only healer on duty.

Though my writing was a little shaky, I managed to fill out the form with my own pen and handed it to the receptionist. She looked at it, reached up and adjusted her glasses, held it at arm’s length, and squinted at it.

“Now, why in the world would you want arcane healing?” she asked, as if she hadn’t caught anything that had happened since I arrived. That seemed pretty likely, actually. “That isn’t cheap, you know.”

“I need it,” I said.

“You kids… you think you need something just because it costs a lot of money,” she said. “Divine magic comes from the gods, you know. That should be good enough for anybody.”

“Can I please just talk to a healer?”

“Pushy, pushy,” she said, lifting up a coffee mug from beneath the counter. I saw it had the same “Do Not Meddle In The Affairs Of Administrative Assistants” slogan on it that Steff’s friend’s mug had. An omen of things to come? She looked over her shoulder at the doorway and called, “Candace, do you want to take this young lady?”

There was no immediate response, and I assumed that Candace was the priestess-in-training.

“Hello? Candace?” the receptionist said after several seconds had passed.

A brunette woman came through the curtain. She looked just a little bit too old to be a student, or an undergrad, anyway. She certainly looked more mature than Candace, if that was the elvenblood’s name.

“Candy’s locked herself in the bathroom and warded the door,” she said. “Do you have any idea… oh.” Her eyes had fallen on me. “Are you here to be healed?”

I nodded.

“Come around,” she said, gesturing towards the doorway past the counter, and then disappearing through the curtain.

She met me on the other side and led me into a treatment room. It was cold inside, and I got goosebumps on my arms almost right away. I rubbed them with my hands.

“My name’s Lynette,” the healer said, gesturing me towards a chair, which I fell into. “If you can excuse me for one moment, we’ll get those fingers taken care of first.”

She darted out of the room and came back with a small jar of ointment and a clipboard. She twisted the lid off the jar and handed it to me.

“Rub this on,” she said. I did, and felt a soothing sensation wrapping my hand. The pale green ointment vanished as I rubbed it around the injured area, taking the injury with it.

“Now, I need you to sign for that,” she said when I’d finished, handing me the clipboard. “I wasn’t sure that would work,” she confessed. “It always seems to me like sanctified damage should trump arcane healing, you know?”

“I guess,” I said. I could see her point, but I was privately glad that she had been wrong.

“Now, what brings you here?”

“I’m having these painful cramps,” I said, putting my hand just below my stomach. “And this bloated feeling. Also, I’m supposed to be at mixed melee right now, so…”

“Well, you could have just said up front that you’re having trouble with your period and need a note for WP,” Lynette said.

“It’s not that,” I said.

“Come on, you’re long past middle school,” she said.

“I’m serious,” I said. “I know for a fact it’s not my period.”

“Are you pregnant?”

“Hell no.”

She gave me a piercing look I wasn’t sure I deserved.

“Okay,” she said. “When was your last one, then?”

“Um, a while ago,” I said. I wasn’t sure exactly when. I’d never really realized just how dependent I’d been on my grandmother for keeping track of that, just like she did my feeding schedule. “But not that long ago. Why do you need to know?”

“If it isn’t your period, I need to know what it is,” she said.

“Is that really necessary?” I asked. “You can’t just cure me?”

“Arcane cures are a bit on the expensive side,” she said. “If I give you a potion to cure disease and you don’t actually have one, that’s one less we have for the next person.”

“Don’t most people just get the divine treatment?” I asked.

“That doesn’t make the arcane potions cabinet your own personal vending cupboard,” she said. “There’s always emergencies.”

“Well, I don’t get sick,” I said.

“Constipation?” she suggested.

I shook my head.

“I don’t do that, either,” I said.

“I guess you wouldn’t. I don’t suppose internal injuries are very likely, either,” she said. “But… have you been hit by anything that could injure you lately?”

“No.”

She tilted her head to the side, putting her hand up on the side of it while peering at me in frustration.

“Okay,” she said. She pointed to a cupboard. “You strip. I need to go hop on the ball.”

What?”

“I’ll be right back,” she said. “I just need to look a few things up.”

“Yeah, but did you just tell me to strip?” I asked. If this were one of my weird dreams, I couldn’t imagine why I’d be in such pain and discomfort… and Lynette hardly seemed my type, whatever that was.

“I need to examine you,” she said. “I can’t channel divine energy around you, so it’ll have to be physical.

“Yeah, but… naked?”

“I think there’s robes in that cupboard, if you’re concerned about your privacy,” she said, pointing.

“So I have to take my clothes off for you to do this but I can put different clothes on?”

“The robe won’t get in the way,” she said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to get a quick refresher on a few points. Just change into the robe and lay down on the table.”

After she left, I went to the cupboard to verify the robes’ existence before I started to undress. There were three of them, all identical except for having slightly different ugly patterns of green flowers with blue leaves on them. I couldn’t believe they were there to alleviate privacy concerns; they were short, open all the way up the back, and Two had nighties made of thicker material than them.

She’d said “strip”, but I kept my underwear and bra on. If she wanted to examine anything beneath them I was calling the whole thing off and filing a report. The idea was ridiculous. If it weren’t for the robes, I’d think she was making it all up.

The surface of the table was freezing to the touch. I tried to pull a little fire to warm it up, but I couldn’t… it was like trying to move too soon after being suddenly awakened. I could feel that the fire element was there, but it just wouldn’t respond. I got hit with a serious twinge of pain for the effort, too.

I considered just putting my clothes back on and leaving, but Amaranth had said I needed to go to the healing center if I was going to skip class. Well, technically, I had gone, but that wasn’t what she’d meant. Telling myself that it would warm up a bit, I laid down on the table.

Once I laid down, it seemed easier to stay there than not, but I was miserable. On top of everything I’d come into the healing center with, my teeth were chattering and I was shaking.

Lynette finally returned carrying a tray, after what felt like a very long time.

“Your lips are blue,” she said, frowning, as she set the tray down on a stand by the table. “Are you cold?”

That gave me so much confidence in her diagnostic abilities.

“Anyway, it turns out that I’m going to start by listening to your heart, so you can sit up,” she said, holding up a pair of clam shells. “These were in a cabinet labeled ‘arcane’, but I can’t tell myself. Let me know if you experience any discomfort.”

I got up into a sitting position, with my legs hanging over the edge. Why had she told me to lie down in the first place?

She put one of the shells up to her ear, then reached the other around my side from the back of the gown. She fumbled around for a bit, pushing the shell against my breast.

“Sorry, I’m trying to figure out if I can do this with your bra on,” she said.

“I’m not taking it off,” I said. “Is there anybody else here? Maybe somebody more experienced?”

“Nobody uses this stuff any more,” she said. “They’re historical curiosities.” She paused. Her eyes flicked to the side. “Um, I think I’ve found the problem.” She withdrew her hand.

“What?” I asked.

She pointed to the table. There was a distinct scarlet splotch where I’d been. The front of the robe was spotted, too. I realized that my panties had to be soaked with the stuff, and as soon as I realized that I felt–or thought I could feel–it all over the insides of my thighs, not just the actual liquid but the nastiness, the crawling filthiness of it.

I bit my lip to hold back an only slightly irrational wail.

“Are you okay?” Lynette asked.

“It’s too soon,” I complained.

“Better early than late, right?” Lynette said. “Do you have tampons in your bag?”

“I use pads,” I said. “And no.”

Lynette sighed.

“I’ll see if I can talk Candy into opening up the ladies’ room, then,” she said. “And I’ll get you some herbs that will help the cramping.”

“You can’t just cure it?” I asked.

“A period isn’t a disease,” she said, giving me an absolutely scathing look out of nowhere.

“Says you,” I said. I could feel another crying jag coming on. I just hoped against hope it would come after she left and somehow be over before she got back.

I also hoped she wouldn’t take long, though.

“Just stay on the table,” she said. She glanced down between my dangling legs. “And maybe scoot back a bit. I’ll be right back.”

Once she was gone, I pulled my legs up and huddled on the table, letting the tears fall down my face. Leaking at both ends… what a picture.

“Candy’s doing her best to sanctify the restroom, but Yvette had a pad and some towelettes in her purse,” she said, coming in while I was sitting there crying, my knees drawn up in front of me.

A look of absolutely crushing pity filled her face.

“Honey, it’s just a period,” she said. “And I draw the line at hugging students, even if you were h… hurt. Here. Take these.”

She held out the pad in its wrapper and the little square packets, and I took them.

“I’ll leave you to get yourself cleaned up,” she said. “Don’t worry about the rest of the mess.” She pulled a plastic baggy full of red-tinged leaves out of her pocket and handed them to me. “You’ll want these, too. Chew them slowly when the pain’s the worst, and try not to use more than one every two hours. Your mouth will go a little numb, but it shouldn’t be a problem if you don’t overuse them.”

I nodded slowly, and she left the room again. It took me a while to get moving, and a while longer before I got myself anything close to clean enough. I simply threw my panties away… I could hardly stand to touch them… and then tucked the pad into place, sighing in relief when I felt it take hold. It wasn’t as thick as the ones my grandmother had bought me, and seemed to have boosted comfort, too… something that my grandmother certainly wouldn’t have looked for.

There was a sink in the corner and I scrubbed my hands before I touched any of my other clothes. I was just pulling my jeans on, still in my bra, when Lynette came back. She didn’t seem to notice.

“I’ve got your note. I left the days blank in case you’re having problems on Thursday, but remember that even the male coaches know a period doesn’t last forever,” she said. “If you’re going to stay out Thursday, I suggest you drop it in the instructor’s mailbox or take it by their office… some of them get a little huffy if you hand in the note after the fact. Next month, you can just tell whoever’s at the desk what’s wrong… it doesn’t matter if they’re a healer or not.”

“I don’t really want to make a habit of this,” I said, pulling my t-shirt on.

Lynette shrugged and gave me a little smile.

“It happens,” she said. “It’s life.”

“Can’t you do anything else?” I pleaded, accepting the note from her.

“Try the herbs,” she said. “You’ll be surprised how well they work.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled, and headed for the door.

“Big, bad demon,” Lynette muttered, not quite under her breath.


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4 Responses to “163: Cross Examination”

  1. pedestrian says:

    It’s nice that Lynette can be sympathetic to Our Mack.

    Current score: 3
    • nobody says:

      I have several interpretations of that last line depending on the tone Lynette used, it only states she used a low volume not her tone (sarcastic, angry, etc.)

      Current score: 0
      • Anon says:

        My favorite reading is exasperation at the young cleric who sealed herself in the bathroom to flee from the little girl crying on the table.

        Current score: 10
        • zeel says:

          That’s certainly not how I would interpret it, but hilarious none the less.

          Current score: 1