In Baltimore, Maryland, my mother scrunches her nose at hospital cafeteria food. The egg yolks are bleeding and she can’t stand the smell, she was force-fed as a child. I ask about Catholic guilt but she prefers to speak on the strange affliction that’s transported me across specialists for several years. She is convinced this doctor will be the one. The waiting room seats are freakishly soft and empty, save for a woman and her swaddled, sobbing baby; it dawns on me that we were like that once. A lazy-eyed nurse butchers my name with a question mark pace. My mother lurches across the room and tails her. I tiptoe behind, tightrope style. Starfished on the exam table I hold a staring contest with my belly button and suck in, my mother pretends not to notice. It’s summer and I should be bare-legged by the pool, getting ogled at by clammy-hand boys instead of microscope men. I’m sweating just the same, at the will of probing fingers and UV light. While we wait for the fruits of deliberation, my mother asks me to get personal. I tell her I’ve been nightmaring about getting kidnapped and beating the captor up. It’s a fantasy really. She reacts accordingly with our family history of sleepwalking. In the same dream my mother has never gone on a diet and we actually look alike. I gaze up at her in awe, she cradles the sun in the palm of her hand, eating it whole. I don’t share that part. The appointment ends like it always does; prescriptions for pills, ointments, and good sources of protein. On the way out of the office I’m teething vending machine cola and my mother tells me not to do that. She presses the elevator button with her middle finger and I tell her not to do that.
Paula Gil-Ordoñez Gomez is a Mexican-Spanish-American writer based in Brooklyn. She works as a narrative strategist at a social impact agency, and as the Social Media & Membership Manager for Brooklyn Poets. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in HAD, Variant Lit, Rejection Letters, and Heavy Feather Review, among others. Say hi on Twitter @paulagilordonez and find more of her work at paulagilordonezgomez.com.
Art by Levi Abadilla