02/17/2021 By K. Desai
I could start my day with a cold shower to try to rub off the internal sound piercing through my hot, unstable body:
Covid, Cancer, Cancer.
But no, Cancer vibrates louder in all of me as I prepare get the news. Is it more cancer than six months ago? Or rather yet, is it stable enough cancer to risk virus exposure for over an hour laying on a hospital bed, half-naked, flirtatiously revealing my most vulnerable and attractive body part—the elongated neck?
Or on this day, at 6 am, I could choose to not shower because after our dreaded date, I will still have to wash away the fluid, insoluble fear, and robotic doctors’ strangle marks. Why are the strangle marks always larger than my endearing neck surgery scar? They are also the perfect prerequisites for a virus microcosm.: Oh and I can’t forget to try to wash off the markings embedding the microscopic virus that caused a worldwide pandemic. But the markings never seem fade even, after painfully arduous scrubs. I wonder, what is worse—the cancer or virus? Which could bring alive the peaceful mortality that I deserve? Would the virus’s brevity or cancer’s longevity matter? I guess I could find out and remove all doubts, but there seems to be no more light within me to further investigate or trial. My scananxiety was already spent on the cancer part years ago; I have no more left for Covid.
I think about backing out with a polite but, succinct rain check. But your secretary has been calling and texting me incessantly for the last three days to remind me of our special day. I kind of feel like I know her automated, monotone voice better than yours at this point. I almost sent the message. I really did. But you would know my lame excuse immediately. I cleared my schedule for you because you are my number one priority. Maybe, that is why you never try as hard as I do. You know that I am smitten, mostly by the fear and wouldn’t dare to leave you first. Left to a standoff against myself, I breathe in and try to calm myself the rest of the day in my pajamas—a potential date should authentically like me whether I shower or not, right? I try to pass the time until our grand union but, it has been frozen since yesterday. Even though, it is a workday, there doesn’t seem to be enough to do to avoid the very thing that hurts me.
So, I wait and meticulously pick out the clothes that I will need to burn out of grief and pandemic-risk when I arrive home. Do I look pretty and put together for you or do I show you the mess of hair soaking into my sore mind? Will you even care because my clothes will be off before you lay eyes on me? Your eyes sure do love me in that loose gown that makes me chill every time. But, in that moment, when I am present, raw, and airy between my legs, arms, and neck, you look at me as if I am special, mostly because I have cancer. I wonder if I didn’t have cancer, would you still love me? I don’t know. I try to make it less awkward. But all I can say is I have been thinking about you all day. Your eyes’ crinkled smile is enough of a response and I inspect what could be the real smile accompanying that face under your mask. I try to show you how attractive I am, but my body—much like my cancer—calcifies into the bed. My words seem to just vomit into silence. Nonetheless, your vampire eyes look at my neck and angle me a little to the left and then, to right, and then, just right with a little pressure to remind me of your presence. I did not know we were going to second base so fast. I wasn’t ready but, you were, as if you had done this to a thousand nameless others almost like a job. What was worse is that we went second base and you were 100% not interested in me. However, the ultrasound machine and her beauty reflecting my growth, felt your undivided attention and evergrowing love. I was jealous but, you didn’t seem to notice.
And, then suddenly, you were just done with me. You rushed out of the hospital room to conspire your notes and methodology on my body with the radiologist for an excruciating thirty minutes. In your time away, you didn’t forget to send a thoughtful thank you note with cancer pleasantries to our sweet but, firm matchmaker—my doctor. While you were out of sight, out of mind, handling your needs, you distinctly forgot mine. I needed you. My limp body refused to move. I felt violated by your monotonous moves, gripping eyes, and lack of charm. Yet, I felt awakened by your audacity and authenticity to admire the very elements of my body that I deeply detest. The silence of being alone continued to haunt my mind as I tried to digest what just happened.:
I already knew by the time you came back without your crinkled smile.
I only asked, “Can you tell I do this a lot?”
With a sad twinkle in your kind eyes, you said, “It becomes a way of life, doesn’t it?”
And I shrugged because, you knew that I knew. I did not need our matchmaker to follow protocol and reconfirm the news.
I flatly said, “Yes, I guess so.”
You gracefully walked me out because you swore that you would always be a respectable date and mostly because you knew we would see each other again. As I watched you bid me goodbye, I thought about our next date and what more is left to give you. You have already seen more of me than I would ever allow anyone else to see. And, I don’t even know your name and I will likely never know, just like the rest of our story.