| back & forth |
September 18, 2018 @ 12:08 a.m.
I have yet to pick the series up again.

Uh, let’s talk outside, he says. No, I scream in my head, here is fine. I tell Athan to stay seated and follow a nurse carrying a clipboard. It was quiet outside.

The surgeon tells me he missed the diagnosis. He goes through his phone in earnest, explaining, astonished they all missed it. He pushes the iPhone towards me and I see a bird. What is that dish, bakalut… no, balut. It’s a picture of balut. I must have made a face because he subtly backs off, quickly tells me she is fine, just needs my signature on some forms to proceed with the repair. Wanted to show me the mass. He’s not earnest, he’s passionate about his work and I can’t focus. The nurse hands me the clipboard with a reassuring smile, speaks about the next steps. I don’t listen, I'm looking for the dotted line. Where was I suppose to sign?… It was good news, well, better news than what was expected. There were still biopsies to be made because that fluid worried him. It might be ovarian, he mutters, scrutinizing the picture. She’s fine, but she’s not out of the woods yet, he says to the phone screen, like I had to know but did not want me spooked. I definitely must have made a face.

Years ago, perhaps decades, the mother received news of some family member, distant yet close, who had ovarian cancer. I realize I don’t know enough of the family health history. The immediate sure, but then there are holes there too.

I don’t know much of anything.

I hold the anxiety on my fingertips, pressing them into nouns. The middle finger slides through the small styrofoam cup before I can make a conscious effort to relax. There are tea bags but no hot water. Deficient, everything feels deficient. The coffee is bad, the cup too soft, the space too crowded, too loud. And I struggle to breathe. I look at the manga I brought to read. I’m in the middle of a series. Escapism had never failed me but there is a first time for everything. Athan keeps glancing at me, waiting. What do I look like?… I try to feel my face, a little too late. Am I worried, he asks. No, she’s fine. Am I thinking, he asks. No, I’m just sleepy, I lie. I smile at him. He goes back to Mark getting impaled by a steel rod, antenna. I wonder if he’s worried, he says he’s not. I say she's ok. He says he knows. What worries him is my bursting into tears, but that he doesn’t say. Athan can’t see me crying. It disturbs him.

Not yet.

We wait three more hours for the anesthesia to wear off.

I look back with some shame because in the end it was so minor, this surgery. So common. So not about me. Yet it affected me so deeply and disarmed me so quickly. I was needed but crumbled under the pressure.

It sucks to be faced with your deficiencies.

Three weeks before surgery we began moving. Mary is a homeowner now.

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