Recapitulation By James Guthrie

March 24, 2016 Comments Off on Recapitulation By James Guthrie

It was harder to ignore, once it started bleeding.

He’d been prodding at it for a month, kneading it, worrying it. It was some sort of cartilage, he told himself, some kind of like spinal nub. A proto-tail, perhaps. It was freakish, sure, but it wasn’t fatal.

Then the little hole opened up.

He tried his damndest to see in the mirror what was going on back there, but no matter how he twisted his body around, he could only see the smear not the source.

Don’t panic, he told himself as he washed the blood from his hands. It certainly wasn’t normal, not by a long shot, but if you pressed on anything long enough, it was bound to start bleeding. He’d just leave it be, for a bit, try to sit over to one side. The bleeding would stop.

An hour later, he dabbed at it again. It had slowed, but it was still spotting. A half hour after that, he dabbed again. Five minutes after that, he dabbed again. He went through a box of tissues, dabbing at it. His waste basket was overflowing with wads of pink dotted Kleenex.

He considered the responsible thing, briefly. He considered going to the doctor in the morning. There was a walk-in clinic a couple of blocks away. He could hobble over there, fill out a form, sit down, gingerly. But he couldn’t imagine actually speaking of the problem, let alone dropping trou and letting them prod at it. He could, however, imagine the diagnosis. He’d seen it in movies: the doctor’s voice would become very distant after delivering such news. War movies used the same effect, when a grenade went off nearby.

He considered Googling his affliction instead, but whenever you Google something, it always says cancer. He was pretty sure Googling his symptoms would bring up nothing but cancer, and he couldn’t face that right now. Seeing that word would only make it worse, and he knew the sorts of things he would start to think about if things got any worse.  

He went to the cabinet and found his medication. Then he called his girlfriend and asked her to come over. He tried to sound like nothing was wrong, but she heard a catch in his voice, a quaver in a diphthong, and when she questioned him, he broke down.

When he hung up, he felt better. He took two pills instead of one. Then he lay down on his side, and waited for her knock.

© 2015 James Guthrie

James Guthrie studied English at the University of Toronto. His work has appeared in The Molotov Cocktail and Red Savina Review.

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