Northern Lights

By Beth Sherman

She tells you to scooch higher on the table and glides the wand over your belly. With the other hand, her fingers tap the keyboard. Click click stop. Like a squirrel cracking nuts or a demented secret code. You ask if you’re allowed to talk, and she says: “No rule against it” but her expression indicates otherwise. You’re the last patient of the day and you can tell she wants to finish and go home. March, late afternoon. A grey windy day. Click click stop click stop click. She’s turned off the lights. Is this standard? You can’t tell. It was so long ago since you did this. The last time there was a baby inside you. You stare at the ceiling, a series of dots smeared onto asbestos tiles. She moves the wand lower, skates it over the surface of your skin. Warm and oily as jelly. When she leaves you look at the pictures she hasn’t bothered to erase. A large square and five smaller ones on the right. Colors burst from the blackness – vermillion, orange, lavender – shooting across the screen like the Northern lights. Cancer blooming before your eyes, cells aiming their gorgeous, silky tendrils at your heart. 

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Beth Sherman received an MFA in creative writing from Queens College, where she teaches in the English department. Her fiction has been published in numerous publications, including Portland Review, KYSO, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Sandy River Review, Blue Lyra Review, Gloom Cupboard and Panoplyzine. She has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net and has written five mystery novels.  


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