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Song and Story....a collection of short stories

Song & Story


Breath of a Town

The Window Kisser
Letting Go
Out of Montana
Sweet Release (Review)
The Results

In Transition

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The Results
By: Diane Payne

Art By: Frank Stock
Art By: Frank Stock

My mammogram results were fine. I felt rejuvenated, powerful. I thumbed through the local realty magazine and considered calling to request catalogs from cities where I'd always wanted to live. If I couldn't persuade a college to hire me full-time, I'd simply relocate.

    As I was contemplating these new locations and calculating how long it'd take for the move to materialize, I remembered that I had another mammogram scheduled in six months. The results had been fine, but not perfect.

    Though I'm only 39 ( I can use the word "only" in limited context, such as discussions of mammograms and retirement cities), I have been on this six-month sentence for the past three years. Thus far, only one doctor has suggested removing my breasts as a preventative measure.

    My daughter is six. Nursing her prevented me from having to go through these mammograms and face these questionable results. The more I nursed, the more strongly I believed that I was decreasing my chances of ever developing cancer. I miss nursing.

    Not long before I became a mother, I was camping with a group of rock climbers and became involved in a rigorous workout with a young buck in my tent. Without warning, he stopped. Still and quiet, he said, "I've never been with a woman with a gray vaginal hair." I didn't know I had one, and when I looked, there were actually three. The young buck was dismissed. I'm certain he was relieved, though I was disheartened.

    Now I color my hair so my daughter's friends don't confuse me for her grandmother. I have thoughts of eliminating these coloring charades when I am 40, and just let the hair be since there's no reason not to be fully gray. Approaching 40, I simultaneously think of going on long mountain bike rides and my fear of chemotherapy, radiation, and baldness, thoughts that make me appreciate the least opportunity to be vain. I no longer have the desire, nor the stamina, to romp with young bucks, and I have lost my urge to hang off steep cliffs; but I certainly haven't lost all my wild desires.

    So I sit here at my computer tonight, after watching my daughter fall asleep listening to Vivaldi, and wonder if the new radiologist even bothered requesting my old mammogram results, if these current calcifications are truly no different than the ones the previous doctor detected. I wish this doctor would listen to me, answer my questions. The earlier radiologist pointed out the calcifications and explained what their shapes meant. Now I'm told they are "probably benign," but probably doesn't provide me with much comfort.

    I wonder if I should take my daughter to meet her grandmother in India this summer, her grandmother even I haven't met, then take a detour to the Himalayas; or if we should simply slip away to a new town without leaving a forwarding address, and just be free of these endless reminders that I am high-risk; but then I look at my daughter sleeping and figure I'll do whatever I can to remain healthy for her. At times like this, I am relieved to be turning gray--to know that I may, at least, turn 40.


Author's Bio

Diane Payne has been published in a number of magazines and is the winner of both the 1990 and 1991 Southwest Writer's Award for nonfiction. She teaches writing at Pima Community College, and has a novel coming out from Red Hen Press next year. She is still on the six-month sentence.


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Song & Story Articles

|| The Breath of a Town || || The Window Kisser ||
|| Letting Go || || Out of Montana ||
|| PLEASE--REJECT ME! || || Sweet Release(Review) ||
|| The Results || || In Transition ||



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