‘Hmmmm,’ the man in the white coat pressed a hand to his chin, leaning back in his chair. My daughter smiled around the room, kicking her feet back and forth to alleviate her boredom.
‘Tell me the truth, doc,’ I whispered, wishing I had someone else with me so I could send Jessica out of the room.
‘It’s…’ he trailed off looking at Jessica’s smiling face. He slowly shook his head.
I clasped a hand to my mouth, trying to stay strong.
‘What’s wrong, mummy?’ Jessica asked, voice tinged with innocent concern. ‘Am I going to be blind?’
‘No, sweetie,’ I said, after a racking breath. ‘This man is one of the best eye doctors around the Bayside area. He’s going to help us.’
‘Thank you!’ Jessica smiled up at him sweetly, even as the man in white shook his head at me.
‘You have to help us,’ I pleaded. ‘She’s all that I have.’
‘No, you don’t understand—’
‘Please,’ I whispered, all but dropping to my knees. ‘I’ll do anything.’
The man sighed, taking off his glasses and polishing them on his tie. ‘I’m sorry, ma’m. But there’s nothing I can do to help your daughter.’
‘You won’t even try?’ I asked, a tear running down my cheek. ‘Shame on you!’
‘There’s really nothing I can do,’ he repeated, shaking his head slowly.
We sat in silence for a moment, the small office seeming to shrink in on us.
Without warning, the door burst open and the bubbly receptionist leaned in.
‘Hiya folks, sorry for the mixup, I’m new here – I gave you both directions to one of our unused offices, not the waiting room! Follow me,’ he gestured with his clipboard.
‘Unused…’ I frowned, looking around. ‘Wait – you’re not a paediatric optometrist?’
‘Oh, god no,’ the man in the white coat shook his head. ‘I just need my prescription topped up.’
‘What is wrong with you?’ I screeched, flying across the room at him as the receptionist struggled to hold me back, a very confused look on his face.