She doesn’t look at her reflection anymore. It doesn’t look like her anymore.
On her spacey days when the poisonous magic racing through her veins is too much for her brain to bear, she sits idly in the sun and wonders what it would be like to have no reflection like a handsome vampire who can’t see how devastating his beauty is.
Today the sun is harsh, not like England at all. It crashes into the mirror in front of her. For a moment she dreams of an explosion of sharp shards of glass.
She promised her she would look.
She remembers the sorrow in the surgeon’s voice as, while drawing a diagram, he explained what needed to be done to save her life. She remembers the quiet stillness of her husband standing somewhere behind her.
“I’m sorry but we won’t be able to save your nipple,” he says.
When she was younger she fell in love with women after nothing more than a kiss or the feel of soft breasts pressing against hers. She loved the beauty and sanctuary of women’s breasts.
She didn’t want to look. She didn’t want to know. She didn’t want to think.
She wore stretchy yoga tops instead of bras now because the right breast was misshapen and small and no longer even the tiniest bit symmetrical and couldn’t fill up a normal bra, much less one masquerading as lingerie.
She promised her.
And there it was, a small smooth mound with a slight dent and a blue bruise on the edge of where the nipple used to be, where blue dye was used to locate her vanquished nodes. There were no peaks and no valleys, just a small, smooth, slightly misshapen sloping hill with one dark line, still a shiny red ridge of flesh, from where the nipple used to be straight across to just under her arm like a symbolic, if imaginary, equator.
She didn’t feel any particular way about the change in her body, the end of an era, perhaps.
Some will say it is a badge of honour but it isn’t. There is nothing that feels more passive than fighting cancer. It is a tragedy that just happens because sometimes they do, you know. It is an ice storm one must soldier through, head down against the elements, pushing bullishly through to the other side. When you take your first wailing breath, you promise to survive and so you never stop pushing. Not ever.
She was still caught up in the storm and would be for the best part of a year.
But her breast, or what was left after saving it, was an island of calm, abandoned and forgotten.
Watching her reflection in the mirror, she lightly traced the scar with her index finger.
She never even felt the single tear as it travelled down her face only to land on her breast in a kind of benediction.
”Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.”
scabulous: proud of a scar on your body, an autograph signed by you by a world grateful for your continued willingness to play with her, even when you don’t feel like it.
5 April 2018
Sussex Coast, England