the way i interact with people gives them bite-sized pieces – a wince, a sigh, a rant about the last appointment. i catch myself in surprise when i say i was at the doctor and they ask if i’m okay, two question marks in their voice, and i can’t help but laugh before i say yes. i guess most people go to the doctor for physicals and check-ups, maybe for strep throat or a sprain, and not for half an answer, weeks of waitlists, waiting. maybe they’ll even see me tired, puffy-eyed and curled up on the couch like i came with it, feeling like a drag when i shake my head and say i’ll stay while they go. in little moments, if they’re looking, they’ll see me labor up the stairs, an amused echo of ‘but you’re so young!’ flashing through my mind as each step sends a sharp pain through my knees. “you go first,” i insist, hanging back with a smile before climbing in their wake.