‘Any questions, Mrs Brown?’
Doctors were all so young these days. So full of talk. I shook my head. Malignant. How much more did I need to know?
Dr Wong smiled quietly, as though sharing a secret, and slid a purple cardboard box across the desk. I half-expected her to offer me an assortment of macarons. Those powdery spaceships that melt on your tongue and stick to the roof of your mouth. And aren’t a patch on the chewy coconut biscuits Grandma used to make. Macaroons, they were called—what a difference a single o made.
I could picture a plate of macaroons alongside the crochet coaster under Dr Wong’s mug. The coaster had a scalloped edge, like the fine linen Grandma brought out of storage for tea parties when I was a girl. I must have been about five when I snuck into the quiet of her bedroom with one of those precious doilies, held the delicate French lace up to the light, poked my fingers through the petals. And marvelled at the beauty of a bouquet made out of holes. Grandma had seemed ancient then, but couldn’t have been more than fifty. The clink of bone china and the music of Vivaldi soared in my ears. Refined. Contained. Immaculate.
Instead of a macaron, Dr Wong reached into the box and pulled out what looked like a jellyfish. The weight of the implant surprised me. I didn’t expect this alien creature, this giant gelatinous eyeball, not that I had given it any thought. What was the point of vanity at my age? I prodded its smooth surface, pressed my finger in as hard as I could then let go to watch the depression spring back into place. Shuffled the dense hemisphere from hand to hand.
The surgeon sighed. She had kind eyes. ‘We don’t have to do immediate recon. If you’re not sure, I can do a staged procedure.’
I rolled the implant back into the box and she closed the lid. Raised lettering on top spelled out the word ‘Motiva’. Why would anyone choose that name for a line of fake bosoms? Was it meant to be uplifting? To motivate recovery? It sounded like a brand of sanitary napkins. Or shapewear. Singlets and spencers came to mind, and my five-year-old self, hiding in Grandma’s wardrobe while she undressed, hoping to catch a glimpse of cotton and lace. And underneath, the angry scar that ran diagonally across her flat chest.
‘I can give you time, if you need it. But no more than a week or two.’ The surgeon cradled my gnarled fist in her hands. Her voice was soothing, unhurried, but outside the door another ten women waited, clutching handkerchiefs and trailing support people.
‘Do whatever you think’s best, Doctor.’
In the waiting room, darling Becca tugged at a loose thread on her sweater and rose to her feet. ‘Ready to go, Nanna?’