Get thee to a Nunnery

December 11, 2009
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Mary and James McCordic stepped into St. Anne's Hospital, holding each others hands, their fingers sown together like cloth. Mary's left hand was clasped onto his left arm, the one that held her right hand. Her eyebrows slanted up towards her forehead, making a wrinkled peak mid-forehead, and her eyes careered from James to receptionist, receptionist to James. The receptionist had watery black hair and white scrubs on; they reminded her of a photograph of her mother holding her as a baby. Her hands clenched, stretching the fabric of their finger weave.
James looked over at her and saw her body slightly shaking as they walked.

"Hey," he began in a loud whisper. "are you alright?

She turned towards him, her eyes still staring forward, though now right at his chest. She tilted her head down, and raised her eyes to meet his. She shook her head yes, then lunged into his body, wrapping her arms around his back. They stood there for a minute, holding each other in the middle of the clinic's entranceway. They finally let go of each other and Mary took a step back. Her eyes had filled with red rivers.

"I'm sorry, Jimmy" She sniffed, her eyes looking at nothing to the left. "I'm sorry,I shouldn't have jumped at you like that."

"Look at me, Mary." She looked at him. "It's all going to be fine."

Her eyes looked off at nothing again, and she nodded her head yes. Mary sniffed, then hemmed her fingers into his again and looked forward. They continued to walk towards the front desk.

"McCordic family?" Mary closed her eyes and drew a deep crackled breath through her nose.

"Yes, we aren't too late are we?" James asked.

"Nope, you're right on time! Go ahead and have a seat, a nurse will call you in soon, okay?"

"Yes, thank you Miss. Come on, honey." They sat down.

Five minutes passed. Mary was sitting still, her head looking at James's knee but her eyes looking past it. James's hands held her right hand and massaged it while he watched the door for the nurse.



The nurse smiled. "The doctor will see you now."

Five more minutes passed. A door opened, but it wasn't theirs. Six more minutes. Another door, still not theirs. Three minutes. This time, the door was theirs.

"Hi Mary, how have you been?"

"Fine. How are you, Dr. Kovach?"

"Oh, fine, just fine." The doctor flipped through his clipboard.

"Are those the"

"Yes, I'm afraid they are."

"Can we...hear it?" Mary and James looked at each other, then back at the doctor.

"Mary... they're positive."

No one said anything.

"So we can't...." her sentence trailed off.

"No, I'm afraid not."

"Do you have to take out all of them?" James stood up from his seat and walked over to her, putting his arm around her shoulders. "I mean, are both infected? Can we...can I keep one? We could still have a kid then, right?"

"I'm so sorry, Mary."

Mary said nothing.

"You know, if you need any kind of help with this we have terrific"

"I don't need a shrink."

"Okay then."

No one said anything.

"We can start the chemo next week if you're ready."

"I can't believe I'm going to be bald."

"There are some terrific wigs out there. They can even make one out of your own hair.."

No one said anything.

"Can we be alone for a minute?" James asked.

"Oh yeah, sure, sure." Dr. Kovach walked over to the door. "Just let me know when you two are good." The door shut behind him.

Neither said anything for a little bit. Both were waiting for the other to say something.

"I might as well have been a nun." Mary finally broke the silence.


"A nun."

"I heard you."

"Then why'd you ask what?"

"I didn't know what you mean."

"You heard the doctor. No kids. What kind of God"



James circled around to face Mary.

"You're not a nun."

"Not yet."

"Come on, Mary. Look at me." She did. "You're not a nun."

Mary looked off to the right at nothing. James took her hands and placed them in his. Mary's breathing became shorter louder, and her face wrinkled. She began to weep.

"I'm so sorry, Jimmy, I'm so sorry."

"Hey, its okay honey." He pushed the hair out of her eyes.

"I'm so sorry." she continued weeping.

"I love you, Mary, that's all that matters."

"But I can't"

"I know. That doesn't matter, Mary. I still love you."

"I'm so sorry, Jimmy." Mary stood up off the patient's table, and James hugged her.

"I shouldn't have yelled at you, Jimmy, I'm so sorry."

"Hey, it's going to be ok, alright?"

"God, I'm so so sorry, Jimmy."

They stood embracing in silence until James went and got the doctor. When Mary and James left St. Anne's Hospital, they held each others hands, their fingers sown together like cloth.

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