Sarah Bigham

 

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Drilling for Oil

 

I have a habit of admiring other people’s veins. Snake-sized, sinewy, accessible veins. The veins I did not inherit. The veins I wish I had.

There is a slight intake of breath when I enter, a quick darting of the eyes to a co-worker, a sudden need to use the restroom.

The short one tells me I don’t drink enough water (a lie). She misses twice and thus I am passed to contestant #2.

The dark-haired one tells me she is a vein whisperer and there will be no trouble in her blood-letting alcove. She sticks me four times without success.

The gray-haired man calls himself Hacksaw Harry to lighten the mood, not realizing, apparently, how close he is to the truth.

There is talk behind curtains of sending me to the hospital so blood can be drawn from my neck. Perhaps somewhere near my throat exists a fat pipeline of platelets.

One last attempt is tried, a paired effort with the short one wielding a needle and the dark-haired one tugging on my arm like a pumpjack as I lean towards the floor and beg the vein on my hand to yield enough. Just for today.

Just for today. Only four vials this time.

The vein hesitantly complies, tired of being the one always selected after an exhaustive search elsewhere, in places with fewer nerve endings. The stream is slow, the oil well is tired. So much for the cavernous passageways of bodily fluids I tried to visualize in my mind.

I leave with multiple gauze pads attached to my hands and arms with paper tape, a wounded prize fighter heading home after a bout, a bull rider icing an aching back before the next rodeo.

I hear the high-fives and the thank gods right before the front door clicks shut behind me. I cry in my car. It is hard not to be wanted at a place I pay to frequent, to be the one they hope to never see, to be the day-ruiner, the I’ll-be-late-for-my-nail-appointment cause, the one whose body is ill-equipped for its present needs.

In my last life, I must have fed multitudes, but not myself. Now my body keeps its oil to itself.

 

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Sarah Bigham teaches, writes, and paints in Maryland where she lives with her kind chemist wife, their three independent cats, and an unwieldy herb garden. A Pushcart nominee, her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in BacopadescantindiciaThe QuotableRabbitServing House JournalTouch, and other great places for readers and writers. Find her at www.sgbigham.com.

All Responses:

Respond to a Prompt:

Submit your response to our current prompt(s). See our Submissions Guidelines page for details.

Sarah Bigham teaches, writes, and paints in Maryland where she lives with her kind chemist wife, their three independent cats, and an unwieldy herb garden. A Pushcart nominee, her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in BacopadescantindiciaThe QuotableRabbitServing House JournalTouch, and other great places for readers and writers. Find her at www.sgbigham.com.