“Who are you?” her mother asked.
“I’m your daughter, Alice.”
“I know that. But I mean, who are you?” Her mother’s eyes locked onto hers; she was clutching Alice’s eyes. What ... [+]
The doctor looked up from her chart and gave me a cheery smile. “Ugh, I know. Asking that kind of question nowadays is so silly, but you know how it is. Just standard protocol and all.”
“Ummm.......” I looked away from the doctor, scratching the back of my neck awkwardly. I couldn’t actually tell her, could I? I mean, it was against the law to lie to your doctor. (I think.) On the other hand, actually liking pineapple on pizza? I could be put to death if the public found out about my guilty pleasure. (This I was sure of.)
“No! No, of course not!” I blurted out. “That’s ridiculous! Who on Earth would actually like that crap?”
“I know, right?” The doctor scoffs, scribbling it down. She set the pad aside and stood up, rubbing her hands together.
“Okay, let’s get started with this checkup, shall we?”
Later that night, I laid in my bed, tossing and turning. I still felt a deep pit in my stomach from my lie. It didn’t make any sense to tell my doctor about my weird obsession. She had no reason to suspect otherwise, so why did I feel so awful? I could already tell I wouldn’t be getting a good night’s sleep tonight.
“Jillian? Jillian? Jillian!”
“What?” I bolted up, staring at my coworker, Brian.
“You’ve been completely spaced out for the entirety of the shift,” he said. “I’ve been doing double duty on register and the coffee because I could tell something was bugging you. Are you okay?”
“Honestly, I don’t even know anymore.” I rubbed my temples and sighed. “Can I just go? Sorry I wasn’t much help.” Brian stared at me for a second and then let a determined look sweep over his face.
He scurried into the back room and shouted at our boss. “Sarah, I’m going to take my lunch break, okay?” He came running back out, grabbed my hand, and pulled me out the door.
Sarah popped out of the back, confusion prevalent. “You don’t get a lunch break, Brian. You work the evening shift!”
“So tell me what’s going on.” We sat at one of the outdoor tables that was just the right amount of clean that I felt okay about putting my head down on it.
“I don’t even really know what’s going on, Brian. I just feel so torn up about something and I don’t know who to talk to about it.”
“You can talk to me! I’m super trustworthy. You know, I was voted most trustworthy in my high school yearbook. People would tell me practically everything! I have so much dirt on my classmates. I could still probably blackmail them to this day! Why-”
“That’s great, Brian.” I sighed again and sat up. “Okay, so have you ever felt something that you feel is just so wrong yet so right at the same time?”
“Oh, definitely.” He leaned across the table, propping his head up on his hand. “In fact, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about that. Jillian, I-”
“And you just want to be upfront and truthful about what you feel? But you’re too scared? You don’t feel.... what’s the word.....”
“That’s it! Courageous!” I stood up with a sudden epiphany. “I just need to be courageous!” I pulled Brian into a hug. “You’re a genius, Brian! I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” As I pulled back, I saw his dumbfounded face and thought little of his leaning in. I ran off, hoping I could make it back to the doctor’s office before closing time.
“Dr. Wilson!” She spun around, leaving the office door wide open.
“Jillian! You know, I was just closing up shop and if you really wanted to come by, you should’ve called-”
“I do like pineapple on pizza! I love the sweet, tangy flavor mixed with the tomato and cheese. It’s the best tasting, worst sounding combination to have ever been created, and I’m not scared to say it any more! I will yell from the rooftops because I am brave! I am courageous and I love pineapple on pizza!” The cold winter air whipped around us and I stared at this woman who had made me feel so awful for the past two days. But I was willing to put my heart on the line for this.
“Jillian.” She stared at me with what looked to be thinly veiled awe. “I can tell that took a lot of guts. I appreciate your honesty. But I’m afraid I’ll have to call the police.” She pulled me into the shop, sitting me down on a chair. Quickly, she pulled her phone out of her pocket and dialed 911.
“You know, I really didn’t want you to say that. I’m not particularly in the mood to flee another town right now.”
Dr. Wilson turned around quickly. “What did you say?” I was already halfway down the street.
“They’ll find you, you know! You, heathen!”
That’s what they say every time. I have a friend on my side though. And that friend is courage.