The news is good. The doctors have looked inside of you and inside of you is a good place to be. Good.
We sit, hunched into the miniature chairs of the office. In the gap between the corrugated plastic, we keep our hands clutched tightly together. You’re clammy. I’m clammy. I can’t quite look at you and you can’t quite look at me. And yet the news is good. The news is good and I want to look at you and you want to look at me but we don’t look at each other. We sit and we look instead at the doctor as she flips excitedly through some papers, telling us just how damn good this news is. So damn good. Impossibly good.
It makes me feel good. I hope you feel good too.
On the drive home, when I’m navigating us back through the fields of traffic on the interstate, you’re sitting there with your forehead pressed against the window, watching the other cars and the other drivers swerve out towards their exits.
You look good—your hair’s a big tangled mess that falls nicely over your forehead, your shirt clings tightly against you. But I am trying to look past you, into you, see what you’re thinking, see the cogs and gears of your insides working and turning.
I wonder if, maybe, you’re looking out at the world trying to see the insides of everyone else—what everyone around us is feeling, what every other citizen of this city has within themselves. Some of them are doubtless better than us, some of them are probably worse. But they’re all alive. They’re all alive and driving in sync with us down this interstate—right here and right now. It’s amazing, it’s awesome, it’s good. We’re completely surrounded by the sick and the well, all of them breathing. All of them are just as human as us, with just as many things growing inside of them.
When we get home, you grab my hand in the stairwell as I’m fumbling with the keys. I ask you how you feel. Do you feel relieved? Do you feel good?
“I’m fine,” you say.
You feel fine and you smile softly.
Leon Hedstrom has poems and short fiction published in or forthcoming from numerous magazines, including 3Elements Review, Bodega, WhiskeyPaper, and Four Chambers Press. He currently makes his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota.