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A Timeless Lie: You Will Be Okay -- creative nonfiction by Claire Hubbard

I

I rest in a plush chair, waiting for my second ultrasound of the year, and my third breast examination. The hospital has become an oasis of safety, a place of brief reassurance. Past the perfectly weighted reception room door, temporary ease to my anxiety awaits me. The arrows along the floor of the lengthy hallway guide me, directing me from the waiting room to the first room on the left, my second home.



II

My mom started to miss work a lot. She told me she was busy with meetings. I noticed that her breasts were larger than usual, so I asked her if she was pregnant, multiple times. Each time, she forced a smile and dismissed my excitement. I had always wanted a younger sibling. I was thrilled. Months later, we gathered as a family in the sitting room. Usually a lively man, my dad’s eyes drooped, and so did his smile. My mother sat next to him, their hands entwined, a confusing scene, as they rarely showed such affection. In a croak, my dad explained the situation. A tear paved its way down his plump cheek, engineering a path for the others to follow.



III

I woke to my phone ringing, the jingle filling the space of my room. Minutes passed before I mustered the energy to stand. The calls continued during my struggle, one after the other. Crawling to my phone and picking it up, I saw my mom’s name flash across the pixelated screen. I raised the phone to my ear, expecting a loving wake-up call, but I quickly recognized her sobs. I sat listening to her cry for a while, patiently yet anxiously waiting for her to pull herself together. Once she had finally calmed down, she told me what had happened, and who we had lost. My sister. Gone. I stood, paralyzed, jaw dropped, attempting to process the death.



I

I undress, leaving my clothes unfolded on a plastic chair in the corner of the room. The hospital gown skims my shins. It’s meant for taller people, older people. I shouldn’t be here. The large thin robe barely covers my chest, the collar drooping to reveal the tops of my breasts. I feel naked, lying exposed on the table. Projected on the ceiling, a mural of a flower arrangement held in a tranquil blue sky illuminates the room. I assume it is meant to distract me from the whirring machines in the rooms adjacent to mine. It doesn’t.



II

Cancer. My heart stopped. I sat paralyzed in disbelief. A wave of confusion shielded my emotions and senses. I must have stayed silent for a while, a statue. I didn’t notice my mom addressing me until she approached my side. She sat next to me, taking me into her arms, reassuring me, telling me everything would be okay. I would like to think that I was strong, and brave for her, but I sank my head into her chest — her chest of cancer.



III

I went shopping for the funeral. At the time, I didn’t have a black dress. Now, they dominate my closet. I spent hours picking out an appropriate dress, a respectful one, one she would have liked. Staring blankly at my reflection in the dressing room mirror, I wondered why I was still alive, why she was dead. What separated me from her? What separates life from death?



I

My doctor eventually arrives. She methodically prods my breasts, beginning the examination. Cool gel contacts my skin, its blue hue disappearing as it is spread over the surface of my chest, turning clear. I know the routine by now. The machine hums alive, and as she places the probe against my skin, a hollow woooosshhh fills the room.



II

My mom’s chest is bare now, her breasts are gone. Scars circle her nipples, a technology meant to better hide the operation. Small black dots cover her upper body, tattoos from the radiation she endured. Her uterus is gone too, taken from her, preventing her from bearing any further children. I will have no little siblings.



III

The funeral was held at a church. I had never been to a church before. I had also never prayed, nor spoken to God, but at the casket, staring in to see her, I fell to my knees. I spoke to Him. I told God to go fuck himself.



I

At the end of my appointment, my doctor tells me once again that I have nothing to worry about. She tells me I will be okay, emphasizing that my breasts are still developing and they have abnormalities, abnormalities that are no reason for concern. But my stomach remains twisted, tied in a dense knot. I don’t trust my doctor. Their doctors said they would be okay too.



 

Claire Hubbard is a struggling high school sophomore. Her involvement in music has sparked her love for poetry, becoming a powerful outlet for her. In her free time, she enjoys writing poetry with her cats.


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