Prelude to Disease by Katrina Prow
Prelude to Disease
On a scale of one to ten, if one is a kitten scratch and ten is losing a finger in a bowling ball, how bad will this hurt? Will it be a four, a tire running over my foot? Or more like a seven, a touch on a blistered sunburn? Does it feel like a sting or more of a slow burn? How long will the procedure last? Is the speculum going to be chilly? Will there be numbing? Can you give me a Valium? If it hurts, will you stop for a minute? Do I get a paper nightgown? Will anyone hear me crying? Can the nurse take my hand for squeezing?
How much tissue will be removed? Will it be a tiny square? Will it be enough for a handful? Will I hear the sound of cutting? How will you examine it afterward? What will you be looking for? Will it be black? Will it look sick or unwell? If I saw it, would I know? Are the cells large or small? Is it true that they are shaped like circles, or are they more like cubes? How will you know if it has multiplied? How will you know if it has spread? My friend told me it looked like tentacles—is this true? Once it is out of me, do you think I could see it?
I heard this happens to people who eat too much salt; do you believe this? Was it because I don’t like water? Is it caused by lying down, or excessive napping? It could have been Michael, Tony, Wyatt, or Benjamin, but how can I know for sure? Do you think it is more probable if we were together drunk? How about if I was lonely? If I said, One more drink but passed out instead, should I be worried? If they were mean to me, did I deserve it? What should I do with the sheets on my bed? What do I do with their T-shirts?
Should I tell Michael, Tony, Wyatt, or Benjamin? What’s better, an individual or group setting? How should I phrase such a thing? Do I say, We loved, but I lost? Or perhaps a compliment: You gave me something I couldn’t handle? I suppose I could ask the question: What do you think about cancer? Are you prepared for the consequences of your actions? Is it wrong to pretend I’m pregnant? Is it true that their penises will turn black?
How long is the recovery? When will I go back to normal? Will I still be able to rollerblade? How about Scrabble? If there’s blood, how do I save my underwear? Are people going to pity me? Is it better to receive casseroles or soups? Will I have to eat all the baked goods? Am I going to be pretty in a wig? Without my eyebrows, how will I go on living? Will there be a lot of cramping? Exactly what do you mean by uncomfortable? What about my boyfriend? Did you know I had one of those? How long must I wait before touching? Will he leave me? Do you think he’ll understand?
It’s cold in here; may I have a blanket? Can you explain it all to me one more time? Can you tell me about chances? Slower, can you tell me about my chances? I’d like it better if you said things in numbers and math; could you do that, please? I’ll be able to smoke pot for the discomfort, right? If this works, will I be able to have children? Do you think I could still be a mother and drink white wine while baking? Would I be able to eat double cheeseburgers? Do you think this is going to work? Then why do you have reservations? What are you scared of? What will I do if it creeps back in my blood and gets comfortable?
Katrina Prow is a PhD student in fiction at Texas Tech University. Originally from California's Central Coast, Katrina received her MFA and her BA in fiction from California State University, Long Beach. Her short stories and poems have been published in Pearl and Spot Lit Mag. Even under the giant, West Texas sun, her heart bleeds Long Beach blue.