Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 10

Julia Park Tracey

Seven Things That Never Happened

When I see a white mark under my fingernail, I’m sure it means cancer. A freckle on my nose must be melanoma. A feeling of lassitude or a little pain in my chest spells doom. I have never used intravenous drugs but I slept with someone who had. I never had sex with a gay man, but I slept with enough guys, some of whom might have swung both ways. When I go to the doctor, I see the sign that encourages me to have an AIDS test, and though I don’t really want to know, I ask to take one. The staff treats me as if I’m leprous and knocking at death’s door when I come in for the test. I have to watch a video. I have to fill out a lengthy questionnaire. I have to have blood drawn. I have to speak to a counselor afterward. She asks me how I feel, and I tell her I’m scared, that I don’t want to know unless it’s false, or negative, or whatever it means when I don’t have AIDS. I go home and wait for two weeks that pass slowly, like a black ribbon of lava creeping down the road.

* * *

I’m sitting in my seat with my eyes closed as we take off, jumpy as hell because I hate to fly. And though I know these sounds are normal, every creak and jolt sends adrenaline through my veins. The plane surges forward and we pick up speed. I’m pressed back into my seat as we tilt upward and the engines roar and tear through gravity. I feel like a feather, suspended in space as we heave toward the sky, away from earth, and then I’m tumbling, dizzied, my eyes still closed, and I hear voices rising, guttural cries, Ahhh, tuneless, animal, visceral, rising to shrieks as we tilt and whirl. I can’t open my eyes. I think, I must look, this is the last thing I will see, but I can’t do it, coward to the end. I won’t look at the faces of strangers, my

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