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This piece, along with my essay "Redward," was originally published in From the Waist Down, a book of poetry and nonfiction centered around real experiences within the US medical system and comprised of contributions from women and non-binary writers. From the Waist Down was released by Papeachu Press in July 2022 and is available for purchase here.

It was too early to be awake on a Sunday morning. I followed the radiologist deep into the bowels of the hospital’s east wing, zig-zagging behind her in a state of half-sleep as the walls swallowed us. We entered a room doused in artificial cheer, its walls bearing a single landscape painting hung slightly askew. I watched the creases of her lavender scrubs crinkle as she eased me onto the X-Ray table. Most people were sleeping in, making pancakes, lying in bed with their lover. Sunday things.

The scanner loomed above me. She asked a few questions and then gestured toward the machine, telling me what to expect. A beep here, a beep there. She repositioned my body slightly and we proceeded to talk casually of topics unrelated to the one splayed out on the table.

She walked over to the computer from time to time, briefly planting herself on the three-legged stool from which she punch, punch, punched a few keys on her keyboard before sashaying back over to me. I watched the waves of celestial green on the computer screen, wondering what they meant, what the results would say about my bones. All my secrets revealed in pixels that I couldn’t even understand. In a matter of minutes, the scanner settled back into silence with an air of finality.

She eased me off the table with well-manicured, slightly freckled hands and encouraged me to stand up slowly. Her blonde ringlets bounced while I focused on her hands, hands that flipped pancakes and punched keyboards and probably caressed her lover’s cheek in the dappled light of morning. I noticed once more the soft crinkle of her scrubs as she moved and felt a sudden stab of longing for the mundane beauty of such things.

She opened another door to release me, exposing a different corridor than the one through which I’d entered. I began to collect my things, feeling the lack of caffeine throwing me off-balance. Suddenly frazzled and gasping for a breath of fresh air, I dropped my keys and hurriedly bent to retrieve them. I caught a glimpse of her no-slip shoes on my way down, noticing the way they stood firmly on the sad linoleum floor, and for a moment I felt so nebulous that I was sure I was going to dissolve into nothing.

As I slowly restacked my spine, her ringlets came back into focus. She held the door wide open and gave me a grin.

“Good luck!” she exclaimed. Just like that.

Good luck.