The doctor had been mute when he entered the room, the door closing behind him with a creak of its hinges and the hiss of the small hydraulic arm used to mediate the speed. He remained stonefaced, his countenance displaying a bland, neutral expression that gave no hints as to the contents of the test results that were clipped to his clipboard, tucked safely in a stickered-shut manila folder where prying eyes could not snoop.

The doctor sat down. Charity’s pulse raced, her blood pressure rising. A rush of adrenaline began to manifest itself as an interface screw—seconds seemingly lasting for eternities, her mental gears spinning in overdrive.

The doctor rolled his stool over to her. He extended the clipboard towards her. “Your test results,” he prompted dryly. Charity meekly took the proffered folder and broke the seal, but paused before removing the folder’s contents, terrified of what they might mean. She looked back at the doctor one last time for reassurance, then opened up the test results.

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