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When you don’t know how the news will break, part of consciousness floats outside of time, held in tension. Even small things hold their bit of stasis proportional to the grief and tribulation your worst-case subconscious can imagine. Everybody has a subconscious wildly skilled at this fantasy, so even small things grow and loom over you, the shadows from the teeth alone enough to fall into. Imagine if it’s a moderate thing, or if it’s two.

I waited for the kind of thing you wait for the doctor to call about. Before that, waiting for enough time for something to happen, then getting the lab appointment. I have routine labs to monitor things, but this was extra. Nothing calamitous, but a surprise, something to deal with and know. So there is waiting and the mind running with things, though quietly, in half-lit visions. Monkey, long-gone to who knows where, does not return for commentary. There is the guy in the lab, filling in for someone else and run ragged with a constant stream of people, Hush Puppies squeaking in the bright linoleum room. The needle hurts the way it always does and I am reassured I will never do injectable drugs. Anything I can do for you? I ask him when I go. He laughs like a popped balloon. Winning lottery ticket, he says. Yeah, yeah, we both need to win something.

Monday I know the doctor is calling because the phone says Blocked. In one second’s fumbling I push through the urge to not answer and take the call. It’s her assistant, the sharp one with the big doe eyes. Everything’s fine. Have a good day. I experience a lifting moment like finding a twenty dollar bill. I will now, I said.

There is a soothing, linen freedom that comes with a problem you imagined evaporating like a fogged mirror. The space it took fills you, and then you fill it, and you breathe.

The cat’s cancer is resolved, that story finished and put away as well as cancer’s story can be. No definites there, the vet and the websites say. Six months of waiting and seeing is the only real test. In the most hardnosed reality, even that is only proof of reprieve. There is always a cell one carcinogen molecule away from switching sides, one UV photon too many. We can’t see that small, can’t know that far into the future. Like the weather forecast, everything beyond 48 hours or so is shifty, all ifs and shrugs. But I’ll take that resolution. It’s pretty good as these things go.

We don’t live in a clockwork universe. I don’t think this would distress Newton, but it bothers a lot of people who want rules to be followed, the past to be present, for there to be such a thing as closure. Nothing is ever closed. We learn what we can and keep moving on, even if the door is closed and the windows frozen shut from time and dust. Even a dusty window lets light in, and we can see.


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