KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 10: Fall 2018
Prose Poem: 200 words

On a Scale of Zero to Ten

by Kathleen McGookey

My pain dragged me, hunched and limping, past the nurse who searched for my test results, past the double metal doors that swung open like gates to a glistening country, then into and out of a white room with blue sky taped to the ceiling. Like a gathering wave made of sand, my pain grew so steadily it seemed to have always existed, darkly immobile, inside me. My pain closed down the ER, got shuttled to the orange hallway, then the blue hallway, where they parked my bed against a wall and gave my husband a plastic chair. We tried not to eavesdrop on pain that didn’t belong to us, hidden behind curtains. It was the deepest part of night. Our children had put themselves to bed, we hoped, and now slept like stones or birds or rain. To show I was a good sport, I tried to vomit quietly. The surgeon who leaned over me refused to state the worst case I might wake to. He wore a flawless shirt, cream-colored silk, but one tip of his collar was tucked under. In another scenario, I might have reached out to fix it.


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