I fought with them as they dragged me to the examination table. Kicking, biting, screaming, I used every ounce of strength I could muster to resist against the iron grips wrapped tightly around my arms and legs. A battle of survival had begun.
But my efforts proved to be futile. They soon had me off my feet and placed on the abominable table, where I could feel my body sinking into the moldy foam material. Beneath me, I felt the familiar thin layer of paper-like material that crinkled harshly with every move I made.
A moment of weakness from my oppressors: I managed to wrench one of my arms free from their grasps and was quick to try and use it to free the other. My victory was fleeting though, and with a harrowing “No you don’t!” from one of the nurses, I felt my heart sink to its deepest depth as my arm was knocked back down onto the table and into bondage. It was over, I thought. It was time to accept that I had lost.
I saw the doctor, clad in a lab coat, approach. I watched as the wretched man hastily put rubber gloves on each of his hands with a souring snap, his face seeming to shimmer with an evil smirk.
“It will only be a minute,” the doctor said, turning to me. “It will all be over before you know it. Just count backwards from ten.”
The doctor stepped towards me, concealing the device I knew he was carrying behind his back. As a hand reached for my mouth, with strength I had long since discredited, I resisted once again, snarling and crying to high heaven for salvation and rescue.
I had yelled so suddenly that he jumped back a few paces. Flustered but undeterred, he turned to a figure seated in the corner of the room. A familiar figure: my father.
“Can you help us out?” the doctor asked of him.
I felt a reassuring wave of relief wash over me. Surely the man who had raised me would readily reject the request. Having taught me the ways of the world, he had instilled in me the certainty that he would always be there for me, no matter the situation and always with my best interests at heart. Surely he would-
“Sure, no problem!”
With a look of pure, unadulterated, betrayal upon my face, I watched in horror as the man I had put so much trust in throughout my life rose and stood beside the doctor. I could feel the tears forming in my eyes but knew they were useless at this point. My champion had gone turncoat.
“Just hold his middle down,” the doctor instructed my father, gesturing to me.
As my father joined the two nurses, our eyes met. I saw him staring with an unreadable expression and he quickly looked away. Was it uncertainty I saw in his eyes? Whatever it was, it didn’t matter. The doctor was at the front of the table, where my head lay.
“Open your mouth,” he commanded.
I shook my head, my mouth sealed tightly. My lips retreated beneath the safety of my teeth, as if doing so would create an impenetrable barrier that not even God himself could open, and certainly this doctor couldn’t.
“Come on. Don’t make this more difficult than it has to be,” the doctor urged, as if I hadn’t made it difficult enough already.
My mouth remained shut.
“We can do this the easy way, or the hard way,” the doctor continued, his voice soft and dangerous. “Take your pick.”
I tightened the tension on my lips. The hard way it is.
The doctor sighed. He turned to my father then back to me and I could see the gears turning in his head. Then, swiftly and without warning, he placed a hand on a free area of my stomach… and he gave me a little tickle.
The results were instantaneous. I began to writhe against the sensation, my limbs convulsing within the confines of my oppressors control. And, unfortunately, my mouth opened as I uttered the tiniest of giggles.
The doctor saw the opportunity, just as he intended. With one hand, he forced my mouth to remain open. With the other, he triumphantly brandished what I had dreaded. I saw for only a second the familiar flash of cotton swab before it was jammed into my mouth.
I screamed. Loudly. My voice rose like a trumpet, as if to call the demons back to hell.
It was over as quickly as it happened. The doctor’s hand retreated from my mouth. In hand, the cotton swab that had violated my oral cavity was a pale, barely changed, white.
“It’s over,” he said, patting my head softly. “You did… great.”
Now, the once treacherous hands were much softer as they shifted me into a sitting position on the table. My father leaned in to give me a hug, though I didn’t return it. In my head, I was in a bit of shock that I was still alive; that the world was still turning with me around to experience it. It had seemed so implausible five minutes ago, that now it brought me to a complete state of euphoria.
But the worst news of the day was still yet to come.
“It’s negative,” a nurse soon said. “He’s fine. He can even go back to his elementary school to finish out the day.”
“Perfect,” my father said. “He’ll make it back just in time for math.”
Alternating giving dirty looks to the two of them, I took refuge in the sticky red ice pop now in hand that I was making quick work of. Though relieved that the ordeal was over, I would not easily be appeased… not until I had managed to at least leverage the experience for an ice cream cone on the way back to school.
Such was the trend every time I needed a strep test. Needless to say, I was a bit dramatic.