'You’re a brave girl,' he whispers, next to me. I shudder under a clean hospital sheet. The
nurse’s hands flutter untangling an earring from my hair. She drifts, ethereal in colorless
scrubs, face static with compassion, as she inserts a needle into the back of my hand and
starts the drip. Cold fluid spreads through my veins and the gurney resonates with my
shaking. The nurse covers me with a blanket tenderly, as if I were her child. I’m cradled in this
building, lit up all alone in pre-dawn darkness.
Two years ago, in a different place, I was shivering with a blue plastic sheet wrapped around
my waist. 'You can squeeze my hand if it hurts,' said the nurse, weary and distant, her
deadpan eyes looking past me. I wanted to lie down, but she told me to sit until I met the
doctor. 'It makes women feel more in control.'
I thought I was in control but my body failed me at the age of thirty-six.
'Little Spirit, go to someone else.' I said over and over, remembering cigarettes and alcohol,
the antibiotics I’ve taken after peeing blood. I tried to convince myself that It was defective,
bleeding, miserable from the start. 'Goodbye, Little Spirit,' and this thing, accidentally created,
was destroyed, taking my old life with it. I clenched the nurse’s hand and she absorbed my
numb pain through her skin. Her hand was not as cold as I expected it to be.
Two years later, the test showed positive again. I thought 'Not again, Little Spirit!' but there
was no dread this time. I felt a companion love inside me, a light spilling through my eyes. A
few weeks later, there was a mild pain, then loneliness. My Little Spirit was gone, leaving a
rotting knot inside. I missed it so much. I didn’t know what it was; just knew I loved it.
Today, the medical staff hovers over me, dragging compassion like molasses. D is for dilation
of the cervix, C is for curettage - the scraping of the walls of the uterus. Undertaken under
general anesthesia, which I’ve never had before, but I’m not scared. I welcome this luxury of
forgetting. Would they be so caring if they knew two years ago, with my legs up in stirrups
and my secrets turned inside out, I was destroying the same thing I’m mourning now?
In the surgery room, I see lights above me that I’ve only seen in movies. The rotting thing in
my womb will soon be gone. The doctor gives me an injection and I get a giddy feeling. 'I
really love my boyfriend.' I say with conviction, then panic. I loved him two years ago too, so
why did I do it? Suddenly I’m terrified that I’m not being punished enough and something is
yet to come, later and at a much greater cost.
'Count backwards from a hundred.' The doctor tells me. I start counting and everything
© Julie Gesin
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