George sat on the hard red plastic chair in the doctors' surgery. Every so often he tried to shuffle his seat, more out of boredom than anything else. Each time, he had forgotten that it was bolted to the wall, and found himself tugging awkwardly against an immovable object. He looked around, embarrassed, but no one seemed to mind or notice.
He was here to see the nurse rather than the doctor. His ears had become blocked and he had made an appointment to have them syringed. He'd never had his ears syringed before, but he didn't feel too nervous. A friend of his had told him to pour warm olive oil into his ears regularly to soften the wax before his appointment, and he had done so each morning for the past week.
Eventually his name was called. The nurse apologised for running late, and shone a light into George's ears so he could have a good look at the blockage.
"There's a bit of fluff in here," said the nurse.
"Yes," said George. "I noticed that too."
The nurse looked at George.
George looked away. The nurse's stare made him feel uncomfortable.
"I'll get my tweezers," said the nurse, eventually.
"Hold still," he said when he came back.
Bracing George's head with his other hand, he reached into the ear and started pulling at the threads.
George could feel the pressure build in his ear until eventually, something started to move. It felt like the wax was coming out in one large lump.
And then, it was gone. Out of one ear, George could hear perfectly again.
He turned to face the nurse, who was looking at his tweezers and, clutched between, a sticky rag.
"It's a glove," said the nurse eventually.
George stared at the nurse.
"I - I must have swallowed it as a child," he said.
"I guess I'd better do the other ear, then," said the nurse.
"Yes," said George. "You better had."
The (long version of the) title for this story came out of me tucking my friend and coursemate Anjali's gloves under the edge of my hat while I held them for her. Oh the hijinks we acting students get up to!
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