21 ceiling tiles

2 hours B.C.

I knew.

Right after the 3D-echo, I knew.

The body language of the nurse gave it away.

We are chatting about my trips to Ghana as she is watching the computer screen. The mid-sentence pause only lasts a fraction of a second – long enough to cause a deep sense of panic inside me. She tries to hide it, the sweetheart. Mumbles something about a technical issue. She will be back soon – stay where you are.

“Don’t freak out – you probably imagined it – there’s no reason to feel anxious – you can’t possibly be that unlucky”. I try to calm myself down. Let me count the ceiling tiles for a minute. A task that provides distraction for my brain as I’m trying to put on hold the impressions and information received in the last 30 minutes. The tiles have a beautiful pattern, one can imagine the tiny holes are microscopic flowers. Maybe they did that on purpose? Looks nice. Better than those boring white ones. “Good”, I tell myself, “analyse that plafond – it’s working”.

I’m still in the room by myself. Lying there, the upper part of my body uncovered. Cold because of the echo lubricant and nerves. I haven’t moved a muscle. Good girl. Funny when you think about it: a total stranger tells me to stay put and I do – no questions asked. This could be a cool social experiment. See how long it takes for me to move around, pull that loose hanging thread at the end of the white sheet, secretly touch the medical equipment, eventually put on my clothes and leave. Out of this hospital.

I’d love to do that – I’d love to leave. Get the hell out of here.

Because I know.

I know they have bad news in store for me.

No amount of ceiling tiles can beat that.

When did you realise something was wrong? Were you able to convince yourself otherwise?

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