The corridors are empty and quiet, which makes me feel as though I was in some sort of a horror movie and something was just about to jump at me and kill me. Would it be someone with a knife or a gun, or maybe some supernatural creature? That I don’t know, so I just keep walking, trying to focus my attention on my feet which make slow, hesitant steps. I fight the urge to touch my throat, searching for something I haven’t yet told anyone about. I am going to find out the results of the tests I underwent some time ago and see what it is that’s causing all this pain for me. Somehow, I have a suspicion I know what that thing is, but I keep pushing the thought away. I refuse to make it real. It’s actually unreal. This whole situation feels as though it was happening to a movie character, not to me. Why would it happen to me after everything seemed to be looking up? Maybe I know the answer. What if it’s this curse that somehow…
“Mrs. Calloway. Please take a seat,” doctor Howard invites me to his office and I plop down on the chair, feeling as if I weighed a ton, when in reality I’ve been fading fast for the past few weeks.
I can’t recall the time I’d last been so thin in my life. Was there even a time like that? It seems like forever ago that I gave birth to twins and was constantly complaining about weighing too much. The times may not have been ideal then, but I would do everything to be in a different timeline, an alternative reality in which I wouldn’t have to go through this visit. I gulp as I look the doctor square in the eye. Somehow, I feel as if I were in Mrs. Turner’s office once again. I wish I could see her again. Maybe she’d tell me how to sort it out once the doctor told me…
“I am sorry to inform you, Mrs. Calloway, but the results of your tests showed a certain anomaly in your throat, in the area where your voice box is located. This is caused by…” The doctor begins, looking down on the papers on his desk and sliding his fingers along the sheets. My heart now beats uncontrollably and I cannot stand it anymore, feeling as though he was getting nowhere in this speech that didn’t provide me with any valuable information at all.
“So, tell me, doctor, how long will I live?” I try to joke, but the fake smile I produce doesn’t quite reach my eyes. It fades in a second when I don’t get an answer. The doctor just looks down on the table, either sad or caught up in the process of calculating. “…seriously, though?” I attempt again.
“Not long if you do not start your treatment as soon as possible.” He looks me in the eye and slowly exhales.
“It’s voice box cancer, Mrs. Calloway.”
I feel all the faint hopes I kept inside of me crush all at once. I wasn’t wrong. My suspicions were all right. For the first time in my life I realize what it’s like to be right and not be happy about it. Happy? I am petrified. Not only do I hate to be right, I also hate to be experiencing a scene which looks just too much like one that could be used in a dramatic movie set up.
My throat suddenly hurts, yet it isn’t the same pain as usual. It is the one you experience when you feel you’re about to cry. I swallow, which hurts so much that the tears are now dangerously close to burst out from under my eyelids. I try to focus my attention on what the doctor is saying.
“Please keep calm, Mrs. Calloway. I know what it sounds like, but you have to understand that it could be worse. Much worse. The tumor is still relatively small, so we should be able to surgically remove it. Good news is it hasn’t yet started spreading towards other areas.”
“It is,” he cuts, searching for the right word, “…promising,” he finally adds. I look at him with disbelief most likely apparent on my face, as he begins to explain it further.
“I promise it will be good. We will set a date for your operation and perform a partial laryngectomy and then… It will be good,” he repeats, clearly at loss for words. “You are a singer, am I right?” The doctor adds. I nod, unable to form a coherent response. “I’m sorry,” he then says. “You will definitely not be able to sing again, however the use of electrolarynx shall make it possible for you to talk. It will sound robotic, but…”
I can sense he’s rambling, hoping that the talk will be soothing for me, but in fact it’s the opposite. With each word that comes out of his mouth, it all becomes more real. Not unreal anymore. It is starting to feel as though it is happening to me, not some fictional character that’s going to be completely fine when the movie comes to an end. The actress will be fine, it’s not her illness that she has to live with – or die due to. She overcomes it when she’s played her role. I’m the character. I’m stuck in this movie with no way out and no spoilers as to what the ending is going to be. I’m starting to feel nauseous and my legs start to tremble. Seeing my state, the doctor rushes to talk some more. “I reckon you will need time to process this, Mr. Calloway. Please call me when you feel better so that we can set a date for your surgery. But do not take too long, otherwise…” He pauses and I think I do not want him to end this sentence, so I just nod again and turn away to leave his office. But when I open the door, I almost bump into a nurse who breathes quickly indicating her run to doctor Howard’s office.
I murmur something incoherent that I hope she takes as an apology and try to go past her, but she doesn’t let me.
“Wait! I’ve been searching for you, Mrs. Calloway. It’s about Fast T- Your husband. It’s about your husband. He has just gotten escorted to the hospital. I was told you were there and I was hoping to catch you before you leave. Please come with me…”
“Reggie? What is he doing here? I…” I stammer out, trying to make sense out of her rushed words. What is that supposed to mean? Why would Reggie be in the hospital? I frantically search for answers, for a reason to this all, but can’t find one.
“I will explain it all on the way to his room. Now go.” Startled, I follow the nurse, wondering what had happened. As I listen to her while she recounts the events, I realize how naive I was to have thought that this day could not get any worse…