May 1985

by Sally Heymann

Date: May 1985

I'm sitting in the doctor's office, nervously picking at my nails. His nurse has already taken my pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and weight (ugh!). I've always been overweight, but I have lost quite a bit since my last visit. I wish it was more, as first impressions are always important, and I never want to seem lazy, slovenly, unworthy.

Weight: 165

I'm here for my post-natal visit, having given birth to a baby boy just six weeks prior. It's difficult to think about, as I gave him to people who needed him, could take care of him, wanted him. When I went to the doctor and found out I was pregnant, they asked who the father was. I do not know, a man in the dark of my house, hiding there, waiting, preying. 

Temperature: 98.9

I fiddle with the gown, pulling on loose strings on a garment that is not quite big enough to cover my expanse. This doctor is not the doctor who saw me for the ten months of pregnancy; the child just didn't want to let go. I stare around the room at the cold walls, instruments, tissues just out of reach. I know I will need them; I'm a crier. I debate whether I have time to get up and get them. I don't.

Blood Pressure: 110/70

I hear a loud voice outside the door. Loud noises and voices scare me, but this one seems to calm me, settle me. The door opens to a blond-haired, blue-eyed, six-foot-four-inch giant of a man in a lab coat and wearing the attitude of friend, rather than doctor. He smiles at me and holds out his hand for me to shake. Tentatively, I take his hand, as he asks me why I'm there.

Pulse: 96

My heart is beating. My palms are sweating. My mouth is dry. I don't know how to speak. Finally, I find my voice. "I want an AIDS test."

Sally Heymann is an English instructor and poet who finds her muse in everyday life. She is the administrator and creator of The Brilliant Book Club on Facebook, which discusses great works of literature.  Most of her writing has been scholarly and presented at university conferences. Her creative writing body of work has been self-published on