“Got a boyfriend?” The red-faced doctor with big hands asks, leaning over Cindy’s pubes.
“Kind of.” Cindy blushes. Watching French films with Jerry isn’t really dating. The only guy at school sharing her passion for Truffaut and Godard, he talks nonstop about cinematography and mise-en-scene. Driving them to the Vogue in his dad’s new ’76 Subaru, his long fingers dance along the steering wheel as he gushes about hand-held cameras and jump cuts.
“Your mother was smart to schedule a pap smear before you leave for college. Right, Louise?” The doctor calls to the nurse standing by the door. She looks up from her clipboard and nods, her middle part a perfect straight line, Farrah Fawcett feathered curls cascading down her shoulders. Cindy searches her face for assurance, but the woman is already reading her notes.
The doctor, an old man with leathery skin, smells of mouthwash. A long dark bristle sprouts from a mole on his chin. If Cindy pulled it out, would it pop like a zit?
She gasps at the shock of cold hard metal inside her. As he spreads the walls of her vagina with his speculum, the doctor chuckles. “You’ve got a thick hymen, so it’s going to hurt the first time.”
Cindy blinks. When no one is home, she lies facedown on her bed, unzipping her jeans to explore her labia, rub her clitoris. She imagines a young man cradling her in his arms, soft words as he presses his groin into hers. As she climaxes she sees a small room in Paris, canvases scattered along the walls, a view of the Seine.
Her eyes water from the squeezing pressure of the speculum. Biting her lower lip, she fists her hands as the doctor scrapes tissue from the walls of her cervix. Cindy presses her feet hard against the stirrups and floats above the table, watching the doctor work her body from a high angle shot in black-and-white, the nurse a suggestion at the edge of the frame.
“Yes.” The doctor pulls the speculum from her vagina. “It’s going to hurt.”
He slips the sample into a small container and washes his hands, nodding at the nurse before leaving the examining room.
Cindy lies on the table, vagina throbbing, but not the soft wet way after masturbating.
“You can get dressed now.” The nurse looks at her for the first time.
Sitting up, Cindy blinks as the room comes into focus. She pictures a close-up of her hand tugging the hair from the doctor’s mole, pulling feet and feet of wiry string until he unravels into a spool on the floor. A low angle shot of Cindy kicking the tangle of fuzz aside before stepping into a long shot of a Parisian cafe, framed by the shadow of someone waiting, off camera.
Phebe Jewell’s flash appears or is forthcoming in numerous journals, including MoonPark Review, Pithead Chapel, XRAY, Milk Candy Review, Flash Boulevard, and Drunk Monkeys. A Seattle teacher, when she’s not writing she’s walking her stubborn dog in the woods, laughing with her wife, or hitting a heavy bag at her boxing gym. Read her at https://phebejewellwrites.com.
Jim Ross jumped into creative pursuits in 2015 after a rewarding career in public health research. With a graduate degree from Howard University, in seven years he’s published nonfiction, fiction, poetry, photography, hybrid, interviews, and plays in nearly 200 journals on five continents. Photo publications include Barnstorm, Bombay Gin, Burningword, Camas, Feral, Phoebe, Saw Palm, Stoneboat, Stonecoast, and Whitefish. Text-based photo-essays include Barren, DASH, Kestrel, Ilanot Review, Litro, NWW, Sweet, and Typehouse, with Pilgrimage Magazine forthcoming. He recently wrote/acted in a one-act play and appeared in a documentary limited series broadcast internationally. Jim and his family split their time between the city and the mountains.