“Miss Mendoza? Dr. Gonzales will see you now. He’ll be giving out your test results.”
“Alright, nurse. Thank you very much.”
She saunters into my office, head held high, hips swinging cockily from side to side. She exudes confidence, arrogance even. But as she takes her place in the seat in front of me, my trained eye catches a brief, faltering gaze. I sift through her records. “Hello, Miss Mendoza.”
“Dr. Gonzales. The nurse tells me my results are ready.”
I observe her more for a moment or two. Cream coloured skin covered by layers of makeup. Hair in tight ringlets, pulled back to reveal her large hoop earrings. Cherry red lips. I can only shoot a guess at her profession but I decide to let go of any preconceived notion.
My lips tighten, yet I try to give her a warm, assuring smile. This news might break her heart. I had hoped to give a less dramatic report, but I seem to be on the roll, breaking hearts this pain-filled Saturday.
“Miss Mendoza, I’m afraid I have bad news. Your tests show that you are positive. HIV positive.”
Tension makes its way into the girl’s face. Her eyes darken, her lips set into a pencil-thin line. She leans forward, clasping a frantic grip around my wrist. “Are you sure, Doctor? There must be a mistake. You’ve switched my papers with someone else. You’ve — “
“Calm down, Miss Mendoza. Yes, I am certain. I’m sorry. There’s nothing we can do.”
She blinks rapidly, fighting back bitter tears. But in a few seconds they start to pour over.
“This can’t be happening. What will happen to Toto and Ineng? They need food. They need tuition. They — I should have known this was going to happen though. They warned me. They did.”
She continues, apparently forgetting that I am there. “It was HIM,” she says, her eyes suddenly blazing in anger. “I told him to use protection. All the others did. But no. He insisted.”
She lets out a bitter laugh. “He should get tested, too. Well. There goes my career. There goes my life. There goes my brother and my sister’s lives.”
She shakes her head, becoming aware of my existence once again. “Forgive me, Doctor. I know you are only doing your job. And I was only doing mine. I had no choice. I guess it’s all just going to come to this then.”
She gets up. She wipes the remainder of her tears before she shakes my hand. “Well. I must say goodbye then. Have a good life, Doctor.”
She walks away, hips still swinging from side to side.
“You too, Miss Mendoza. You too.”