This is the waiting room. No men. All women. There’s one who is chewing her jaw and thrusting her chin out and has her index finger pressed into her jowl. And she chews and swallows, swallows and chews and she’s not that old but it hasn’t been easy for her. She has a walker. And now she stands and she speaks with the stress of something I hope to never know.

And there’s a receptionist with white blonde hair and I cannot see her face and she’s on the phone guffawing until… finally the silence. Now there’s only the low hum of headphones in the ear of a beautiful woman sitting beside me, eyes closed, face in palm, thinking sweet and mellow thoughts.

There’s a Dominican woman, milk chocolate with close cropped hair, blonde, gold hoops and gold sandals and indigo blue jeans. She is focused, reading a pamphlet with cute reading glasses on and there are people coming and going through the waiting room for things I do not know.  She rises and I notice her nails are neon orange.

“Miss Rosen?”

I follow a nurse down the hall and am told to take my top off and put on this hospital gown. It’s much too large. It keeps opening up but it doesn’t seem to matter. I sit in a smaller waiting room.

There are four women ahead of me, and one of them is doing needlepoint and she has brought her daughters with her and the one sitting behind her murmurs in gentle Spanish. She who murmurs is pregnant, very much so, and she holds her mother’s cane between her legs and murmurs right along. And the sound of her voice soothes my edgy nerves and I think of how lovely it is to be bathed in the soft caress of a woman’s voice. I in and exhale as the murmur continues on.

I used to embroider. It was one of my favorite things. Those bright and silky threads, those fanciful stitches through the hoops. My happiness was a needle and thread and pieces of fabric and things I could make with my hands. It gives me pleasure to sew just to sew to sew to sew. It is my hands, I know this, as I sit waiting with the Blackberry on my lap. And I find peace in typing these words.

As the murmurer cracks jokes and Mami says Los Santos! and drops the pattern book. Then the murmurer reaches over to tie the top of her hospital gown cause Mami got them grand tetas and I think how much easier it is for her when she goes to the machine. Because me, there’s just not that much. And this is my third time in six months. Because it is my first time. And they’re getting that baseline, get ta know ya kinda reference, and let me tell you, it’s just sooo very fuckinn weird.

The first time, I had the best nurse. That makes all the difference in the world, and she took my B cup in her hands and pressed in into the machine while I stood there la di da. And with her lilting accent, she transported me far away from the cold grey concrete to the sand beaches and the sea. She spoke kindly and it didn’t matter what she said. It was just like the murmurer, the pleasure of the voice that soothes in its caress.

The second time the nurse was Eastern European, kind but cold and her accent was harsh and grated on my already frayed nerve. Because I kept looking over my shoulder at the x-rays on the wall, looking at the areas circled by the doctor for the follow up. I could see things. What am I looking at? I asked the nurse but she’s not the kind who dialogues. She seemed bothered by my questions as though I were questioning her. I stopped asking.

The Dominican woman with the orange nails just walked into the small waiting room and when I looked up she looked a little nervous and I am realizing, we’re all facing the same fear. We’re women. We are vulnerable. Not just to ten thousand things but to this. To this thing that inflicts itself upon the thing that makes us us feel good about being female.

“Have you lost weight?” the nurse asks when I walk in for my third mammo this year. She is blond, thick, Eastern European. Warmer than the last one. I wonder if I lost weight.

“Maybe five pounds,” I say, standing in the examination room wearing stretch jeans and flats. My hair is down, my breasts are bare except for these little pasties with metal on the ends.

“Have they gotten smaller?” I ask, looking at the x-rays. They look the same size. It’s weird. Compressed breasts in half circle shapes.

“It’s a standard question” the nurse tells me and I am thinking I did lose a little weight. I remember it had been January, before I slid into the abyss.

I return to the waiting room, waiting for the sonogram portion of this program and I’m nervous and hungry and tired and wired. I’ve been reading and making notes in the margin and I am reading about how, when it hurts, I should go a little farther. And I am reading how writing is lonely and then I get it. This is why I blog. Instant gratification. I dig most people don’t read. Don’t read this. But a few people do and to you… God Bless.

I read this, read and write and revise until the rhythm is just right and the tone is harmonic and the dissonance is fiyah. Well maybe not this story. This story is just an embroidery. Ladies in the Waiting Room. Waiting in the Ladies Room. Ladies Waiting…

I look at my phone. And there is a text.