In the constellation of Homarus Gammarus

A story Visual Verse didn’t want, but here it is anyway.

In the constellation of Homarus Gammarus

The waiting room is empty, she picks up a magazine opens it anywhere, as you do, just to give her hands something to do, to focus her eyes on something because there’s nothing else, nothing on the walls except a poster with line drawings of toddlers with blue faces, their heads inside plastic bags, or toddlers with red faces being held down in baths full of water hot enough to boil eggs. She wonders what kind of parent sits in a doctor’s waiting room staring at this kind of poster and thinks, hmm, maybe I should stop giving Jayden/Emma/Butternut/Jigsaw plastic bags to play with.
She picks up the only magazine and opens it in the middle. It might be a story, she doesn’t know, she just lets the colours run. Her own pastel colours drift across the ceiling making a dream landscape you might find over the bed of a luckier toddler than the red and blue ones in the poster. Drifts of clouds, moons and stars, all sunlit and rippling with tame water fill the pale room. The colours gather in banks and billows so thick the doctor can barely open the door.
“Amy Narwhal?”
The girl uncrosses her legs and closes the magazine, blows a kiss to the rocking moon, and follows the doctor into the surgery.

Another girl enters the now full waiting room, pushing her way past a bouncing lilac cloud and sits down. She glances at the poster and wonders, are there really parents who don’t know that babies are like lobsters, that if you boil them they change colour and die? She picks up the magazine, opens it in the middle and the colours shrink and change like jumpers or lobsters, and the room darkens. The girl flicks on the light and begins to read.
Once upon a time, in the deep dark ocean depths there lived a lobster. As everyone knows, the universe is peppered with constellations of lobsters, each bigger and more brilliant than the next, and this was the biggest, brightest of them all. One night, the biggest, brightest lobster climbed out of his pot—
The door opens. The girl looks up.
“Is this Dr Beluga’s surgery?”
“It is. Sit down and I’ll read you a story.”
The lobster clicks his way across the waiting room and takes the seat next to her. He peers at the magazine and taps the page with a blue pincer. “I know this one. Great writer.”
The girl smiles and begins again. Her voice mingles with the dark green clouds, and soon the water has risen over her ankles. Somewhere, a toddler gurgles with laughter.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

9 thoughts on “In the constellation of Homarus Gammarus”

  1. I wish my Drs waiting room had magazines like this ! ….”No magazines her due to Covid ” the sign says, and you rarely get to enter the hollowed walls of the surgery.🥺💜💜💜

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