The racket being made behind her was about to send her off the deep end. She knew there was nothing she could do about it. Perhaps that was why it was so annoying? Usually she was the one issuing orders. The one who made all the others jump. She was a Person Who Got Things Done. If things were normal she’d be able to say “Stop that right now” and it would stop. She wouldn’t even have to raise her voice. People would listen to her. If things were normal.

She closed her eyes and concentrated on her breathing. Inhale. She felt her ribs expanding and imagined the air filling her lungs. Held the breath in for “…5, 6, 7, 8” counts then let it go. Exhale. …5,6,7,8. Inhale. …5,6,7,8. Exhale. 5,6,7,8. Her lips curved in a smile. It reminded her of dancing class.

She had been, 16? 17? yes, that was it, 17 years old and madly in love with her partner. He’d been tall, dark, and handsome. They’d had sex the night before this particular class. Both of them were still giddy with delight and could not concentrate on either the steps or the timing. For some reason they’d found the counting hilariously funny. By the end of the class neither of them could stand properly for laughing. She smiled wider, they were lucky they hadn’t been banned.

The racket stopped.  She slid out from the machine and redressed herself. Took a moment to check her expression in the mirror. Yes, she looked in control. The door to the room opened and she turned to greet the doctor.

“It began to look purple 2 days ago.”


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