The brown, faded leather couch was soft and enveloping, absorbing Colleen with a distinct woosh of air when her weight hit it. Her feet, formerly adorable in her new Mary Janes, now hung childlike in the air as she discovered the true depth of the enormous piece of furniture. Did she look as ridiculous as she felt? Who puts a couch like this in a waiting room? All the chairs, the normal, waiting room kind, were occupied. Even if someone got up, she probably wouldn’t be able to free herself in time to claim the vacant seat.
Looking out at the folks waiting for their own appointments, she noticed a middle-aged man in the front with a bandage bulging over his left eye. His unencumbered right eye stared curiously at her. Giving him a tight smile, the kind she reserved for strangers in passing, she tried to settle more comfortably. The cushion beneath her rolled and billowed as if she were sitting on a giant, semi-inflated balloon. Setting her purse on her thighs she braced herself with outstretched arms as she bobbed a bit.
Feeling hugely exposed by this awkwardness, she began inching forward. If she could at least put her feet on the floor she would be able to stand up without too much of a struggle when her name was called. The couch didn’t seem inclined to cooperate. Each bit of forward movement made her abdominal muscles strain to bring her upper body over her knees while her backside sank deeper. Halfway to her target position she paused, took a deep breath and fought the urge to just flop backwards and take a break. Unable to stop herself, she looked out at the room.
The man with the eye patch was still watching her. Frozen in partial movement, arms straining forward and her legs stretched in Barbie doll fashion, she found herself trapped in a one-eyed stare down. For an absurd moment she weighed her odds of winning, her two eyes against his one. She was nearly being eaten by the couch while he sat composed on a firm, stable chair with armrests. Then her stomach gave in to the strain and she sank slowly backward, ending almost flat, but with her head coming to rest at just enough of an angle to let her see everyone else as they studied her. Lying quite still, she closed her eyes and contemplated her next move.
From this position she would be forced to roll almost completely over in order to gain enough leverage to shove herself off the couch. Obviously she would land on her knees and have to pick herself off the floor. Of course there was always the question of the couch’s cooperation. What if she managed to roll over but couldn’t find her leverage? Based on the results of her previous attempt she didn’t think it a stretch to envision herself face down and suffocating.
With a bracing gasp of air, she made her decision. Clutching her purse safely against her stomach she opened her eyes and raised her free hand into the air, waving it slowly back and forth like a white flag.
“A little help?”