Hypochondria

Hypochondria by Jack Leibur

The flower on my clavicle keeps growing and so I call Mimi. It’s benign, she says, exasperated. Cancerous ones don’t blossom. You just call me about stupid crap.
*
When I was eight, my grandmother had a heart attack. They say she rose five feet above the bed. I have been terrified since.
*
The first time I meet Mimi, I keep hiccupping butterflies. Mimi opens the window to let them out. She asks about family history. I tell her about my aunt, how they opened up her body and found her chest full of moths; about my grandpa who went blind when his eyes turned to opals. Blue butterflies everywhere. I don’t say anything about my grandmother. When she leans in to hear my heartbeat, I spit out a red butterfly. It rests on the lapel of her labcoat. She looks at me with a raised eyebrow.
*
Something’s wrong, I say when we wake up. Mimi sighs. Something’s always wrong.

You never believe me, I say. I feel like Cassandra with you.

Cassandra?

You know. The Greek chick.

The Greek chick was always right. You’re more like the boy who cried wolf.

*
But she’s wrong. I start breathing out smoke. And Mimi tells me, raincoat wet, standing in the living room: I’m so sorry. Both of us stand there, the room filling up, for a long, long time.