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  #1  
Old 04-05-2009, 11:23 AM
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Default Another vignette


Untitled


I called for my lab results on Thursday.
"What do you mean, not in yet? You said ten days."
"Ten business days, ma'am. Call back Monday."
Monday. They wouldn't tell me over the phone. Said I had to come to the clinic.
I can't drive. I haven't slept. My hands on the wheel look like wax, like someone else's. Lifeless.
Distant traffic sounds. I can't swallow. My throat is tight; my mouth is dry and tastes like copper, like blood.
50,000: The estimated number of HIV+ women in the United States.
50 states. 1,000 infected women per state. 22,000,000 people in my state, half of them women. So the odds are what, one in 11,000?
These equations tick through my mind incessantly, obsessively...at work; in the shower; stopped at a traffic light; lying in bed twisted in sheets, filmed with cold sweat and staring at the ceiling.
The numbers are obscurely comforting. They keep the black panic at bay, the blind, clawing terror that would consume me.
They are distracting, these cold equations. But like all statistics, they are ultimately meaningless. Beneath them, I hear the ticking time bomb, and I know the virus is in me, racing.
My life has been one long denial; an act of turning from the truth.
For six years, I've lived with a great unknowing. I've lied, denied, justified. And all the time, I could hear it, ticking away.
When I heard "AIDS" on TV, I changed the channel. When I saw it in a magazine, I turned the page.
AIDS does not exist. And I was never exposed to it. It wasn't me, not me, never. It wasn't me.
Then two weeks ago, I woke up and knew that I could not live with not knowing anymore.
The past exists. It cannot be escaped. I can't hide from it; it is inside me. It is with me wherever I go, whatever I do. If I could turn back time with the force of my regret. 50,000 women in the United states infected with HIV. 50,000...!
Numb, panic, taste of blood, I can't breathe. Clinic. How did I get here? I don't remember. Dizzy. Breathe slowly, slower, slow. Head down on the steering wheel. Breathe.
Stand up, get out, walk inside. I want to run away, but that is no longer a possibility. My legs are like water, carrying me inexorably toward my fate.
Glimpse of my reflection in the glass door; a ghost already, a walking corpse, ghastly and pallid in the morning sunlight.
Inside; receptionist, bright false smile. As if she doesn't know.
I wish I was her. Wish I was anyone else. Why couldn't they just tell me on the phone? But I know why.
Long hallway; private room. The doctor will be right with you. Dear God.
Still time to run. Run. But I've been running, and I'm too tired to run anymore.
I slump on the examining table, back against the wall, a rustle of paper. Close my eyes. Tired.
The doctor enters, results in hand. Not smiling. Should've run. Too late now. The moment.
Spots swimming before my eyes. Breathe slower. Breathe! Ears ringing. I can't hear.
Her lips are moving soundlessly. Her unsmiling eyes. My destiny in her hand. Ringing.
I cover my face with my hands.
"Say that again."
Her voice comes from far away, from underwater, from an alternate universe. A dream.
"Your test result was negative."
I lower my hands. Blink.
My pulse is so loud in my ears, like the roar of the ocean.
"Again...please."
"Negative."
The world opens up around me like a kaleidoscope. The colors are so bright. Even here in this sterile examining room, so bright!
Incandescent white walls glowing, gleaming stainless steel, bright posters blazing, colors pulsing like a hallucination.
Waiting hands empty in my lap, waiting to be filled with this news, this gift.
And then I breathe. Something in my chest unlocks, and I draw in a deep, unconstricted breath; the first breath of the rest of my life.

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  #2  
Old 04-05-2009, 11:33 AM
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Good stuff, this. Suspenseful introspection and reality piece. Either indent or space separate the paragraphs to make easier for the reader.
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  #3  
Old 04-05-2009, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Paco View Post
Good stuff, this. Suspenseful introspection and reality piece. Either indent or space separate the paragraphs to make easier for the reader.

Ah, thanks.
Paragraphs are hard for me. i never know quite where to put them.
I'm gonna work on that.
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  #4  
Old 04-05-2009, 01:41 PM
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Per Paco's take, I agree with the paragraph thing. At least double space between them.

In other news, it's a beautiful piece. I'm not usually one for the impending medical doom topics, but yours reads honestly. I've some experience in oncology, I've counseled many going through the eternity of pending test results and you are dead on! Very, very angst-ful read, and I mean it in the best way.

Shemp
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  #5  
Old 04-05-2009, 02:48 PM
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Default "With a little help from my friends..." Joe Cocker

Originally Posted by Glass_Pinata View Post
Untitled


I called for my lab results on Thursday.

"What do you mean, not in yet? You said ten days."

"Ten business days, ma'am. Call back Monday."

Monday. They wouldn't tell me over the phone. Said I had to come to the clinic.
I can't drive. I haven't slept. My hands on the wheel look like wax, like someone else's. Lifeless.

Distant traffic sounds. I can't swallow. My throat is tight; my mouth is dry and tastes like copper, like blood.

50,000: The estimated number of HIV+ women in the United States. 50 (Fifty) states. 1,000 infected women per state. 22,000,000 people in my state, half of them women. So the odds are what, one in 11,000?

These equations tick through my mind incessantly, obsessively...at work; in the shower; stopped at a traffic light; lying in bed twisted in sheets, filmed with cold sweat and staring at the ceiling.

The numbers are obscurely comforting. They keep the black panic at bay, the blind, clawing terror that would consume me. They are distracting, these cold equations. But like all statistics, they are ultimately meaningless. Beneath them, I hear the ticking time bomb, and I know the virus is in me, racing.

My life has been one long denial; an act of turning from the truth. For six years, I've lived with a great unknowing. I've lied, denied, justified. And all the time, I could hear it, ticking away.

When I heard "AIDS" on TV, I changed the channel. When I saw it in a magazine, I turned the page. AIDS does not exist. And I was never exposed to it. It wasn't me, not me, never. It wasn't me.

Then two weeks ago, I woke up and knew that I could not live with not knowing anymore.
The past exists. It cannot be escaped. I can't hide from it; it is inside me. It is with me wherever I go, whatever I do. If I could turn back time with the force of my regret. 50,000 women in the United states infected with HIV. 50,000...!

Numb, panic, taste of blood, I can't breathe. Clinic. How did I get here? I don't remember. Dizzy. Breathe slowly, slower, slow. Head down on the steering wheel. Breathe. Stand up, get out, walk inside. I want to run away, but that is no longer a possibility. My legs are like water, carrying me inexorably toward my fate. Glimpse of my reflection in the glass door; a ghost already, a walking corpse, ghastly and pallid in the morning sunlight.

Inside; receptionist, bright false smile. As if she doesn't know. I wish I was her. Wish I was anyone else. Why couldn't they just tell me on the phone? But I know why.

Long hallway; private room. The doctor will be right with you. Dear God. Still time to run. Run. But I've been running, and I'm too tired to run anymore. I slump on the examining table, back against the wall, a rustle of paper. Close my eyes. Tired.

The doctor enters, results in hand. Not smiling. Should've run. Too late now. The moment. Spots swimming before my eyes. Breathe slower. Breathe! Ears ringing. I can't hear. Her lips are moving soundlessly. Her unsmiling eyes. My destiny in her hand. Ringing.

I cover my face with my hands. "Say that again."

Her voice comes from far away, from underwater, from an alternate universe. A dream.

"Your test result was negative."

I lower my hands. Blink. My pulse is so loud in my ears, like the roar of the ocean.

"Again...please."

"Negative."

The world opens up around me like a kaleidoscope. The colors are so bright. Even here in this sterile examining room, so bright! Incandescent white walls glowing, gleaming stainless steel, bright posters blazing, colors pulsing like a hallucination. Waiting hands empty in my lap, waiting to be filled with this news, this gift.

And then I breathe. Something in my chest unlocks, and I draw in a deep, unconstricted breath; the first breath of the rest of my life.
I once asked a friend of mine, a former newspaper editor, where a new paragraph should begin. His reply: Any damn place you want it to!

Last edited by Paco; 04-05-2009 at 02:53 PM..
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  #6  
Old 04-05-2009, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Paco View Post
I once asked a friend of mine, a former newspaper editor, where a new paragraph should begin. His reply: Any damn place you want it to!

Wow. That's... empowering.

I have vague memories from grade school of being taught about what a paragraph should consist of, but obviously I wasn't paying much attention.

Thanks for the help.
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  #7  
Old 04-05-2009, 03:13 PM
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De nada.
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  #8  
Old 04-06-2009, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Glass_Pinata View Post
Untitled


I called for my lab results on Thursday.
"What do you mean, not in yet? You said ten days."
"Ten business days, ma'am. Call back Monday."
Monday. They wouldn't tell me over the phone. Said I had to come to the clinic.
I can't drive. I haven't slept. My hands on the wheel look like wax, like someone else's. Lifeless.
Distant traffic sounds. I can't swallow. My throat is tight; my mouth is dry and tastes like copper, like blood.
50,000: The estimated number of HIV+ women in the United States.
50 states. 1,000 infected women per state. 22,000,000 people in my state, half of them women. So the odds are what, one in 11,000?
These equations tick through my mind incessantly, obsessively...at work; in the shower; stopped at a traffic light; lying in bed twisted in sheets, filmed with cold sweat and staring at the ceiling.
The numbers are obscurely comforting. They keep the black panic at bay, the blind, clawing terror that would consume me.
They are distracting, these cold equations. But like all statistics, they are ultimately meaningless. Beneath them, I hear the ticking time bomb, and I know the virus is in me, racing.
My life has been one long denial; an act of turning from the truth.
For six years, I've lived with a great unknowing. I've lied, denied, justified. And all the time, I could hear it, ticking away.
When I heard "AIDS" on TV, I changed the channel. When I saw it in a magazine, I turned the page.
AIDS does not exist. And I was never exposed to it. It wasn't me, not me, never. It wasn't me.
Then two weeks ago, I woke up and knew that I could not live with not knowing anymore.
The past exists. It cannot be escaped. I can't hide from it; it is inside me. It is with me wherever I go, whatever I do. If I could turn back time with the force of my regret. 50,000 women in the United states infected with HIV. 50,000...!
Numb, panic, taste of blood, I can't breathe. Clinic. How did I get here? I don't remember. Dizzy. Breathe slowly, slower, slow. Head down on the steering wheel. Breathe.
Stand up, get out, walk inside. I want to run away, but that is no longer a possibility. My legs are like water, carrying me inexorably toward my fate.
Glimpse of my reflection in the glass door; a ghost already, a walking corpse, ghastly and pallid in the morning sunlight.
Inside; receptionist, bright false smile. As if she doesn't know.
I wish I was her. Wish I was anyone else. Why couldn't they just tell me on the phone? But I know why.
Long hallway; private room. The doctor will be right with you. Dear God.
Still time to run. Run. But I've been running, and I'm too tired to run anymore.
I slump on the examining table, back against the wall, a rustle of paper. Close my eyes. Tired.
The doctor enters, results in hand. Not smiling. Should've run. Too late now. The moment.
Spots swimming before my eyes. Breathe slower. Breathe! Ears ringing. I can't hear.
Her lips are moving soundlessly. Her unsmiling eyes. My destiny in her hand. Ringing.
I cover my face with my hands.
"Say that again."
Her voice comes from far away, from underwater, from an alternate universe. A dream.
"Your test result was negative."
I lower my hands. Blink.
My pulse is so loud in my ears, like the roar of the ocean.
"Again...please."
"Negative."
The world opens up around me like a kaleidoscope. The colors are so bright. Even here in this sterile examining room, so bright!
Incandescent white walls glowing, gleaming stainless steel, bright posters blazing, colors pulsing like a hallucination.
Waiting hands empty in my lap, waiting to be filled with this news, this gift.
And then I breathe. Something in my chest unlocks, and I draw in a deep, unconstricted breath; the first breath of the rest of my life.
I'm a great believer in a turning point. Like everything, there's a certain point where everything comes together.

I've high lighted that bit, which does it for me. It ties the two halves together, completes the story for me and, for some reason, i'm going to remember it.

Job done!
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  #9  
Old 04-09-2009, 03:27 AM
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I really liked this. You really showed the chaotic panic, and that worked great. Very nice piece. I do agree that you could have spaced it apart, and some times writers don't know when to do it. But it'll get easier as you write and read more.

CJ
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  #10  
Old 04-11-2009, 06:37 AM
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Glass_Pinata, I think this is great. I love your quick, uninflected fragments. They say a lot, way more than if you'd loaded them up with excess language. I think your use of language is great. You're telling the story, speeding us to the conclusion. Then, the test results... and the world opens up. Colors are brighter. Calm. I like it! great work.
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