Serenity Senter. First Time, Every Time. Short Story.

“Hello and welcome to the Serenity Senter, how I may assist you?”
“Hi, My name is Michael Ward, I’ve an appointment for two p.m.”
“To see Dr. Peace?”
Michael grinned, “Yup, that’s the one.”
“Ok, perfect I have you checked in, if you would like to take a seat over there in the waiting room someone will be with you shortly.”

Michael went over and plopped down onto the soft, comfortable seat. It really was a relaxing building, large windows gave plenty of natural light, plants were dotted about the lobby, along with comfortable couches and fountains. The sound of falling water filled the air, along with the scent of orange and lilac. He took a deep breath and released it slowly, he knew the drill already, this would be his twelfth time returning. Not that he could remember ten of the eleven previous times of course. That was the beauty of Serenity Senter, it was the first time, every time.

“Mr. Ward?”
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“Hi, I’m Dr. Peace,” Dr. Peace stuck out her hand and shook his quickly, she had long red hair and tanned skin, she wore a white suit, a red cross adding a splash of colour on her left lapel. Michael noted that she was different from the previous Dr. Peace he had met. He wondered briefly if they had changed every time.
“Now, I see you’ve been with us before, however I am required to go over everything with you again.”
“That’s fine, I only vaguely remember it from the last time anyway.”
“Ok good, please, come this way. The procedure is very simple, you’re going to sit into the machine, then there will be some loud noise, some people report a flash of light, and it will be over. During the procedure you will be injected twice, though at worst you will feel a slight pinch the first time, you will not feel the second. If you feel uncomfortable or frightened at any time during the procedure and you want it to stop, there is a large red button. If you press this button the procedure will stop, though it will take ten seconds for the machine to wind down. This is to ensure there are no side effects. Once the procedure is complete, you will be taken from the room and moved onto your package, I see you’ve chosen the relaxation set. This will consist of a massage, a bath set to your own liking. You will also have some options from a set menu if you want to try some new foods and there will be a preselected selection of Television shows and Movies, placed in the order of your own preference.”

As she had talked, Dr. Peace moved through the white corridors with ease, taking lefts and rights. Though the walls, ceilings and floor were all a bright white, paintings and more potted plants provided a break in the monotony. Finally they arrived at a room with a single door. Dr. Peace opened the door and stepped inside. There was a single, large chair in the centre of the room, to the left of the chair was a glass box, inside which were control panels.
“Please, take a seat and make yourself comfortable. Are you fine with restraints?”
“Yes, I am fine with it.”
Michael sat into the chair, Dr. Peace closed a large, padded ring around each of his ankles, then one band across his chest. “Is that too tight?”
“No, that’s ok.”
“Good. Now, I am leaving your hands free, as I said earlier here is the button. I will also be talking you through the procedure. It can be frightening but remember you are completely safe. Are you ready?”
“Yes. I think so.”
“Good. I shall see you in a few moments then.” Dr. Peace moved a large plastic pod over the top of the chair, sealing him inside. Michael took a few deep breaths, never quite sure what to expect.

“Ok Michael, you will hear a deep humming noise and some vibrations, that is just the chair starting to work.”
Michael gasped as something sharp jabbed into his leg, “That was the first injection and the only pain that you will feel. Now, the noise will get slightly louder, you might see a flash of light, and then it will be over.”
The humming increased in intensity, the chair shook, Michael took another deep breath.
“Ok, and we’re done. That wasn’t too bad, was it?”
“Um, no it wasn’t.”
“I’m Dr. Peace and you are in the Serenity Senter.”
“Yes, of course.”
She helped him out of his chair, “Now, we’ll be taking you to your relaxation suite, first up is a massage.”
“Oh, I’ve always wanted to have a massage.”
“I know.”

She lead him to another room and passed him off to a tall, smiling man. “Hello Michael, I am Ted, I will be giving you your massage. I will leave the room for a moment while you strip down, however much you feel comfortable, there is a towel there on the table for you to use, please make yourself comfortable.”

Michael sighed, he felt so relaxed after his massage. All the kinks and knots in his back were gone, even the ones he didn’t realise he had. Once the massage was over he had been brought to another room and left alone. This room had a large tub in it, filled with gently steaming water. He relaxed into it, after a few minutes he picked up the remote and clicked play on the first thing on the menu, he already knew that it would be good. To his left was a tray of fruits and pastries, along with a glass of water. He picked up a strawberry first and bit into it, savouring the burst of sweetness on his tongue. He knew he had eaten strawberries before, he knew he enjoyed them, but this time truly was the first time experiencing it.

Afterwards, once he was dried and dressed, he felt so relaxed, so at ease. It really had been one of the better days of his life. On his way out he paused at the desk to make another reservation, two months from now. Perhaps next time he would choose something else, after all he didn’t have to decide until a week before the appointment. He stepped outside and took a deep breath of the fresh air, he felt like a new man.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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