“I’m a bit concerned about your x-ray … here’s why …”
He flicked on the light box and snapped the film into place. And instantly – instantly – I saw it. To this day I can’t remember if it was a gray mass or a gleaming white mass – but it stood out – as ominous as a pit leading straight to the center of the earth.
The doctor rambled on – somewhere in the distance – but to this day I don’t remember his words, either. My face and toes and fingers had gone numb, and I was swallowing – swallowing – swallowing – trying not to throw up.
[In the BONE? No. No. NO!]
“Wait,” I gasped, and the doctor fell silent. “Cancer?”
“I believe it’s some sort of neoplastic activity.”
“You don’t want to say cancer. But I want the truth.”
“We don’t know yet. But it’s possible.”
The rest of that visit is a blur. I remember a handshake, some hugs, and some crying. I remember a few people trying not to look like they were staring. I remember very loud fluorescent lights – humming – and a cold feeling that would not go away. I remember clutching a fistful of paper till my hand bled.
And somehow I ended up on a bench in the hospital lobby during a torrential rain.
The wail rose in the back of my throat but could not pass my clenched teeth. I could only sit and rock in mindless terror, while an endless stream of cars rolled through the rain.