by Sarah O’Brien
“There is… one more,” says Melissa with apologies in her eyes.
I have already admitted to the nurse that I don’t do well with needles. She has already taken oceans out of my body, filling nine separate tubes with my now-red blood.
I have already made several jokes: small talk paints the room’s elephant in pretty colors not under any pretense that this will disguise it, but rather with the hope to distract us both, to give us something to do with our tongues.
I sigh—of course there is one more. I extend my right arm to receive more pain, even while asking, “Can we do the other arm this time?” Maybe switching arms will somehow restore balance to my disturbed universe.
Melissa’s face says Bad News before she speaks the dreaded words: “This one has to go in your backside.” She offers an explanation, but I’m in my own head.
“Oh,” I nod to her. I suddenly laugh. Figures. It’s a classic Sarah-life scenario. Well, let’s get this over with then.
She makes me feel at ease with some banter as I lie down on the hospital bed and turn on my side, preparing to moon her. She lets me know when she’s ready and asks if I’m ready and I pull my underwear down.
Melissa is so much more respectful with my body than he was.
As the needle plunges deep beneath the skin of my butt, I focus on his name. I resolve to remember this moment and to remember that it is his fault that I am here, alone with Melissa, getting poked in the ass with a needle on Memorial Day weekend instead of sipping daiquiris poolside with family or friends.
This is your fault, George Carroll. I stare at the blank, white hospital wall while Melissa gets to the bottom of things. I am the elephant in the room; the doctor who had arrived before Melissa to check my vitals made that clear while stumbling over his words in a dialect I affectionately call I-Don’t-Know-How-To-Talk-To-Survivors. Melissa, whose mother tongue is Efficiency, removes her needle. “All done! You’re all set.” I pull up my pants. Unlucky for George, an elephant never forgets.
Sarah O’Brien is a poet and painter from Woburn, Massachusetts. She earned her MFA in Writing from the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s low-residency program. Sarah is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Boston Accent Lit. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Dancing on a Dead-End Street, and of the forthcoming poetry book Shapeshifter. Find out more at www.sarahobrien.org and follow her @fluent_SARAcasm on Twitter and Instagram.