A mole on the side of my neck and a relationship hitch - Writer's Cramp
|Beyond the reflection of the mole on the side of my neck, I see my boyfriend behind me, in the mirror. He’s changing out of his running clothes, fresh with circulating blood and adrenaline, smiling, ready to shower. I touch the pink contours of the mole gently with my finger and back out of the bathroom, going to fetch the card out of my purse that holds the bad news.
I put on a summer dress that leaves the mole exposed, the little spot that was biopsied two weeks ago. “The dermatologist says it’s normal,” I had told my boyfriend in a monotone when the results came back. Not, “The dermatologist said it’s cancer.” Not, “The dermatologist can’t rule out that it might have spread.” I cover the spot with sunscreen and put on a wide-brim hat, determined to be pink and happy. My boyfriend tells me I’m beautiful. I say I’m looking forward to tater tots and salad, a weekend brunch, a walk with him.
He tells me on the walk that he read people who lift weights can almost age in reverse, the new muscle fiber granting them metabolic powers equivalent to those many years their junior. He tells me he doesn’t believe in age, that it’s a cultural thing, all in our heads, only as real as we let it be. I tell him that biologists call it “senescence.” He snaps like he thinks I argued to hurt him. I tell him I was speaking my mind, that it’s not an argument, just a conversation. He’s older than me.
Beyond the reflection of the mole on the side of my neck – which may be simple surgery, which may not have spread at all – I realize that I’m afraid to tell my boyfriend that I have health problems, that I’m having a procedure, or that he may need to be checked himself.
He smiles as he eats steak and eggs, the tablecloth lacy and clean, and the silverware gleaming. He checks his reflection in the blade of the knife. He has muscles and a sense of optimism, and in his reflection, I see what I love about him.