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One Week Later

by Victoria Melekian

I'm still not sure what the doctor said that day. I can tell you he wore a tan shirt, darker slacks, no tie. I can tell you his name was embroidered in blue on the left side of his white coat and his glasses were brown tortoise shell. I can tell you it was a Friday afternoon on a gray day just before rain. I heard "cancer" and "sorry to say." An invitation to a club I didn't want to join. I drove home in a light drizzle feeling shocked by my insides. I pictured tangled seaweed, big brown clumps of kelp.

Tonight the skylight is streaked with rain and frames three stars, a silver sliver of moon. I try to picture six months from now and can't.

"Hey. You asleep?"

Oh, no. The questions and comments committee. They like to perch on the bedposts and hold emergency meetings. Always at night.

"Go away," I say.

"We want to talk to you about this cancer."

I said, "Go away."

"It's probably spreading."

I turn over. Fold a pillow over my head.

"It's spreading and sticking like glue to your ribs and spine and all your organs."

I throw the pillow on the floor, tell them the doctor says I'll be fine.

"Well, still, you're gonna die from flesh-eating bacteria. The kind that hangs out in hospitals."

The only way to hush the committee is get up, turn on the light, and find something to do. I wander out to the living room, think about that invitation. I imagine fancy pink card stock, a date for surgery written in elegant black calligraphy. "Further treatment to follow" it says on the bottom. I'd like to pick up a pen, put an X in the will not attend box, just RSVP "no."

Back in bed, the skylight is dark. Clouds have hidden the moon. I lie there listening to rain, counting dogs I've owned: Kirby, Bailey, Shadow, Heidi, Daisy, Samson, Sadie.

Anything to quiet the voices in my head.

Victoria Melekian's work has appeared in "Word Riot," "A Year in Ink" - SDWI's anthology, "ONTHEBUS," "Pearl," "Magee Park Poets," and "Passager" (Winners on the Web). She has received two San Diego Book Awards. She's living happily ever after in Encinitas with her husband and two orange pets.