Mary said she wasn’t getting any more mammograms, on account of the radiation. Trish looked up from her Moscow Mule, swirling the copper cup carelessly.
“I know, right?” Trish looked around the restaurant, one of those dockside ones where people pulled up on their boats and customers sat at wooden cable spool tables. Plastic crabs and lobsters in fluorescent colors on the walls. Wait staff in vaguely nautical outfits, the girls in apparently required tiny white shorts they kept tugging down, the guys in knee-length cargo shorts.
“Last time I flew—to Florida when Frank’s dad was sick? —I refused to go in the X-ray machine and I had to get searched.”
“I don’t like to fly anymore” Mary answered. “They’ll kick you off as soon as look at you, after pawing through your bags and touching your lady things.”
Trish nodded. “Well, I won’t fly again, that’s for sure. On the way home, they bumped me after I had an assigned seat. Then just before boarding, they called my name and announced they’d found me another seat.”
“Well, that was cool.” Mary stuck another tortilla chip into the crab dip. The bright yellow chip and pale pink dip echoed the colors of her off-the-shoulder blouse. She hiked one sleeve up, hiding the sunburn line. “I mean, that they made up for it like that.”
Trish shook her head. “No way I was getting on that plane. It was a sign. I started yelling I wouldn’t get on it and I thought Frank was going to have a fit, telling me TSA would arrest me if I didn’t shut up. The lady next to me said well then she wasn’t getting on it either, and I told her not to worry, it wouldn’t crash if I wasn’t on it.”
Mary listened and nodded. She and Trish were best friends now, since they’d met at Maid in the Shade, working all summer to clean rental houses between tenants and change sheets at the local motels. She knew Trish and Frank were recently separated and wondered if it had anything to do with this incident.
“So we drove a rental home. But anyway. You know that you can get an MRI mammogram now, right? No radiation.” She caught the server’s eye and held up her cup.
Mary shook her head. “Nope, no MRIs for me. Not since my lung collapsed last year and they had to stick it to my chest wall with staples.”
“Wait, what? That’s crazy!”
“Yeah. But here’s the thing. I can’t ever have an MRI now. The magnets would pull out the staples. Rip them right out of my lungs. They’d slice my heart to bits.”
The drinks came, and they each took a sip. They had an afternoon off, before the next round of tourists. There were a million beds to change and toilets to scrub tomorrow, but for this afternoon they had nothing to do but sit in the sun on a dock.
Trish looked out over the boats, pondering what was luck and what was fate. And the menace of Mary’s staples. She’d never heard of such a thing before, but at the same time, she knew exactly what Mary meant.
LESLIE DOYLE lives in New Jersey and teaches at Montclair State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gigantic Sequins, The Forge, Electric Literature, Fiction Southeast, Signal Mountain Review, Rougarou, and elsewhere.
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