The examination room felt cold. Why did he have to sit here in a paper gown? And how long would it be until the doctor got here anyway? These questions, and others, ran through his mind as he grew bored of the anatomical posters on the wall and trying to guess what purpose all the instruments in the room might possibly have. He tried ranking them in order of invasiveness, and then in how effective they might be as instruments of torture.
He flinched at a knock at the door. “Good to see you, Mr. H_. I trust you are in feeling well? I see from your record,” the doctor peered over the reading glasses perched on the end of her nose, “that you’re here for an extraction. I’m sure you’ve heard all the details, but, well, regulations, you know? Let’s see. There shouldn’t be any pain, although some people report a sensation of pulling. Some of the more common side-effects include difficulty sleeping, lower blood pressure, anxiety, and in some cases, a loss of dreaming. Do you have any questions about the procedure or the risks involved?”
“You’re sure about the dreaming part? I won’t have to dream any more, about her?” Mr. H_ looked pensive.
“That is what we hope for, but there are no guarantees. I’m also obligated to remind you that once removed, we can’t put it back. No way to store the thing, you see. Withers up almost immediately.”
Mr. H_ sighed. “Yeah, I know. I’m ready. Let’s get this over with.”
“Very good. Decisive. I find that to be important. State of mind and all that.” The doctor rummaged through a few drawers and gathered up an ear scope along with a pair of skinny tweezers. “This may feel a little cold,” said the doctor as she leaned in close to peer through the scope into his ear canal. “Hmmm. Hmmm. Let’s see. Ah, here it is. It’s a little difficult to distinguish from the rest of the ear hairs. I’ve got you now. Come on out of there.”
He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to say anything, so he sat there silently as the tweezer moved around inside his ear and began tugging.
“This is a long one,” said the doctor as she pulled the thin dark fiber, one meter, then another until it stopped. “We’re at the end of your ‘rope’ as I like to say. One last opportunity to stop, if you’d like.”
“No, no, just get the damned thing out,” Mr. H_ answered.
“Here goes,” said the doctor. She wrapped the thread around one gloved hand and gave a quick jerk. Out popped a small, iridescent pearl-shaped object that was attached to the thread. The pearl shrank to the size of a dried pea and lost its luster.
“That was it?” asked Mr. H_.
“That was it. Silly bit of nonsense when you see it. Not like you’ll miss it, your soul that is. Better off without one, I say.” The doctor smiled as she pushed her glasses up to the bridge of her nose.