The Vaccination

In this story so far, I’m sitting on the toilet seat in the downstairs bathroom, crying because the dress I have on is a year and a half old. I haven’t worn it since before my accident—that’s what my parents call it. I was excited to wear the dress because I remembered looking good in it, feeling sexy, pretty, but now it seems like it doesn’t fit the way it used to. Maybe it’s out of style. Maybe I should eat more. Or less. I’m anxious—not crazy anxious, just finding random noises startling, and holding the eyeliner, my hand trembled. I’d bought a new shade of lipstick—dark-orange, burnt. I wonder: Will it show through the mask?

It’s 7:13; he’s late. Maybe he’s not coming. How long do I have to wait before I know he’s not coming? Louis Branche—it probably wasn’t smart to ask my old friend Hannah’s separated husband to go on a date. But I only need him to take me out of this house. And I haven’t seen Hannah for a year. She left him, I heard.

To protect my mother, I told a white lie.

A man asked you out? she said. You sure you’re ready? She looked concerned. What about the virus?

Tested, I explained. He’s been tested, we’ll wear masks. And soon we’ll be vaccinated.

Just try to have fun, she said.

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