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Waiting Room

So this is where you start, ass planted in a blue plastic chair and eyes squinting into a room bathed in fluorescent light, terrible, and the worst smell you’ve ever smelled seeping through the ceiling tiles and you wonder what asbestos smells like because by the time you were born they were taking it out of all the buildings even though some resisted so you’re sure you’ve come into contact with it at some point but really, you don’t know, and so you pull your phone out and look at the symptoms of asbestos poisoning and see that it affects the lungs and that the asbestos fibers scar precious lung tissue—tissue you know to be important, as most of your innards are— so you wonder if the breathing problems you sometimes have are caused by that— asbestos poisoning— or by glycerin deposits from chronic vaping that you now imagine coat your lungs like strips of silver ore, and the image briefly pops into your mind of microscopic miners crying out Eureka! when they come across a sizable hunk of glycerin and you imagine them leaping upward and clicking their heels together, and you imagine one of their faces turning pale when they come across a microscopic canary, dead, in your right bronchus and yelling get out! but it’s too late and they all end up dead, forever, and this image does a little to freak you out but not enough, it doesn’t do enough to freak you out so you try to think of something that will because if corpses in the lungs don’t do it for you then you might be lost, so you think of a video your friend showed you when you were both fourteen, it was a video taken somewhere in the Middle East or Northern Africa or something where a father and a son dive into a quarry but only the son gets out and he calls for his father and is answered by a black mass bobbing to the surface then sinking down again into the inky green water, his toe having grazed a live wire sending a million volts of electricity through him in the same amount of time it took God to blow up the atom that expanded into the universe, tossing out gases and matter into every corner of deep space and that image did freak you out so you decide to yourself that you’re not totally spiritually kaput, good, because after all you’re the only one who has the right to cast judgement upon yourself, that is until God makes Himself known, and anyway, that really isn’t your forte, judgement, and you’re just waiting for your name to be called, your ass really itches and it’s not for lack of cleanliness, anal hygiene is actually really important to you, it’s just because blue plastic does that, you’ve noticed that your ass doesn’t itch when you sit on red plastic, or beige, or black, but blue and yellow really do a number on you, so you think about pulling your phone out again and looking up if there is a particular dye used in blue plastic that causes itchiness or irritation but the word irritation” starts to get to you, so you get up and go to the bathroom and pull down your pants to check for redness or swelling or whatever but you can’t see your ass very well so you take your phone out and take a picture, just to check, but everything looks normal, apart for a wirey hair on your left asscheek that you pinch between your two fingers and tug out and hold up to your eyes and stare at deeply, and then flush down the toilet, and you notice that after you took that picture your ass has stopped itching, and you think about how Native Americans believed having their picture taken stole a part of their souls, but in your case, the photograph stole the incessant itch, and then that phrase looped endlessly in your head incessant itch incessant itch incessant itch and you tried to stop the loop when it got to a multiple of three, six, nine, twelve, fifteen, eighteen, you couldn’t let it stop on a weird number like nineteen so you let it keep rockin’ until 24, finally feeling satisfied and not letting the phrase incessant itch enter your head ever again, you think, hard, until those words together are banished from your mind, and you imagine picking them apart with chopsticks then swirling them around and letting them dissolve, good, you feel better.

Frank A. Esparros

Twitter: @anti_frank

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