My new tennies have heels that will click like dress shoes over cement, and I concentrate on this sound all the way to the doctor’s office. The waiting room has magazines with entertainment gossip plastered on the cover but I reach for a familiar children’s book, first. Feeling foolish despite being the only patient there, I quickly set the easy reading down and grab some goddamn thing with Gwen Stefani on the cover. I’ve let myself down before even settling in my chair.
I’m bummed. Bummed about Gwen. Bummed I don’t have the nerve to flip through a book I probably won’t see, anymore.
I continue to wait on the examining table. Directly in front of me is this terrible pastel painting of very young children leaning right over a bridge. A fishing rod. Flowers. Blegh. One little girl clutching her teddy bear couldn’t possibly have hopped up on the ledge, herself. How horrifying and unlikely.
Half an hour passes, according to my watch – something my dad is fine with me wearing since he hates the kind of wristband with those little, pinching parts. Dead skin finds its way into the face, gathered up around 11 to 1. I don’t know if it gets replaced with new skin or if I’m still carrying my dead grandfather around.
A pediatrician tells me that mono will remain in my system and possibly flare whenever I’m run down, then asks for some final blood samples. The same woman who could not draw blood last time, fails, again. Someone else pulls out a smaller needle “butterfly” and pokes around until blood starts shooting into a little tube.
“I got lucky,” he insists. Covering my averted eyes, he jokes, “Quick, tell me what’s in the painting.”
I proceed to tell him all about the terrible painting, probably the first and only real thoughts from the day that are verbally expressed. The needle comes out and he moves a crimson accessory through the air, plastic wing-like grip and all, to show me why they named it after an insect. My eyes follow the ridiculous demonstration from right to left, delighted by the bloody butterfly in my typical winter’s day.