The Wait

May 31, 2010
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Shannon put the jar of baby food in the microwave. While waiting for the mashed carrots to warm, she gazed across the cracked linoleum floor and stared at the phone. She waited. She asked herself, "Do I really even want to know? Should I even pick up the phone?" The results would come back today. She needed to know.
She walked over to Leah, who was patiently sitting in her high chair, playing with her spoon, humming to herself. Leah was a chubby, happy baby and she rarely cried. “Here, sweetie, I’ve got some din-din for you,” Shannon said to Leah, “Mmm! Yummy carrots!” She put on as good a smile as she could muster and watched her daughter play with her food. If Shannon did have cancer, who would take care of Leah? She stared back at the phone.
She thought back to her past. Why had she had to eat red candy? Why had she had to drink that microwavable soup? Should she have checked her house for asbestos or radon? Had she used enough sun block? There were so many things she could have done; each one might have an effect on this test. She wiped Leah’s mouth with a bib.
The phone rang. Shannon sprang toward the phone. As she was about to grab it, she hesitated. The phone rang again. She grasped it, hand shaking, and slowly brought it up to her ear. She shook her hair back, straightened her back and assumed a more confident position in an attempt to forget about the sinking feeling of uncertainty in her stomach. She tried to add a cheerful bounce to her voice as she said, “Hello?”
The only sound in the apartment was the sound of Leah’s spoon scraping against her high chair. Shannon shuddered. She could feel her knees wobbling. She grabbed at the wall with her free hand and slid down until she hit the linoleum floor. She breathed. She stuttered, “Okay. What are my options for treatment then?”
After a few minutes, Shannon thanked the doctor and hung up the phone.
Shannon walked over to Leah and picked her out of her high chair. She held her close and sobbed, sinking to her knees.

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