Waiting | Flash Fiction | Chicago Reader


Flash Fiction 2018

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  • Daniel Fishel

I waited in a small white room, in bright white light, for close to 20 minutes. I fidgeted, crossing and uncrossing my feet, checking my reflection in Snapchat, scrolling through Instagram on my phone without purpose. The smell of antiseptic filled the room; posters for PrEP and HIV testing shared the walls with diagrams of male and female anatomy. I hated coming here, but I knew it was necessary and I was grateful to have somewhere I could go.

So I waited, and eventually a nurse came in to draw my blood. He had cinnamon-colored skin and kind features and wore squarish wire-framed glasses. He looked about 30, and I wondered if we were the same age. We said hello to each other, and he got started.

I forget how many tubes they need to take at once. Six or eight or something like that. I hate needles—but stabbing myself weekly for over a year had made this a little easier.

As he was finishing up and putting a Band-Aid on my arm, I recalled my last injection. It took two shaky tries and ended with me feeling nauseous on the floor in my bathroom. So then I asked him, "Do you know how I might go about switching to smaller needles for my weekly injection? It's been intramuscular so far, but I find it difficult sometimes and wanted to try sub-q instead."

"Do you inject estrogen or testosterone?" he asked.

"Estrogen," I replied quietly.

"Right, that's thick stuff. I bet it can be tough. How do you go about injecting it?"

"I used to do it in my thigh, but I switched to my glutes because it seemed less painful."

"Right. Well, your doctor isn't in today, but come back by soon and I'm sure they could work that out for you. It might change the absorption rate, but you might find it easier. The needles are much smaller."

Outside it was spitting rain and the wind had picked up, swirling orange-gold leaves through the cool gray mist, which fluttered and fell to the ground, clumping in soggy brown piles. I stood wrapped inside my scarf, waiting for the bus. Eight minutes, waiting. Always waiting. Waiting to stop being misgendered. Waiting for the hair to stop growing on my face. Waiting for my breasts to come. Waiting for my thighs to grow. Waiting for my reflection to change. Waiting. Waiting to feel pretty. Waiting to be wanted. Waiting to fall in love. Waiting. Waiting to get over heartbreak.

Waiting. Waiting to have a vagina. Waiting. Waiting to not feel like a man anymore. Waiting to feel like a real woman. Waiting.

The bus appeared at the intersection just before the stop where I was standing. Suddenly, feeling incapable of being in close proximity to so many people, I turned right and started off in the direction of home.  v

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Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
March 21
Galleries & Museums
"Anthem" Opening Exhibition Weinberg/Newton Gallery
September 11

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