Bills. Piles of paper on the desk. Loads of paper in the box at the back of the closet. Unopened mail. Taxes. Health insurance. Ringing phones, calls not returned. Over sleeping, missing class, missing appointments, missing the plane. Lost wallet, stolen credit cards, identity theft. A turned ankle, sore knee, jammed elbow, eyestrain. Weight gain. Remembering names, finding the keys, finding the car. Caffeine withdrawal. Drunk drivers. Allergies: pollen, mold, grass, certain cats, some trees. Insomnia. Lactose intolerance. BHA, BHT, MSG, High fructose corn syrup, cholesterol, transfats. Horseshoe crabs, slugs, Great Danes, not mice, not bats, not even cockroaches. Being alone, being together, visiting the family, other people’s children. Salmonella. Microwaves. The cat escaping, getting lost, getting run over. Stuck in an elevator, trapped in a stairwell. Crowds, random violence. Heights. The depths of the ocean, even with the dive certificate. Toothache, headache, tummy ache, backache, mysterious pain in the side. Difficulty waking up. Caffeine overdose. Arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, bursitis. Heart palpitations. Old age. Appendicitis. Depression, anxiety, friends on anti-psychotics. Airline crashes, earthquakes, botulism poisoning, brown recluse spiders. FIV, FIP, herpes, HIV. Sudden weight loss. Radiation poisoning. A swelling, medical examination. Tests. Diagnosis: Invasive lobular carcinoma.
Katherine Gleason’s short stories have appeared in journals such as Alimentum, River Styx, and Southeast Review, and online at Juked, Jellyfish Review, Mississippi Review, Journal of Microliterature, and Monkeybicyle. She won first prize in the 2007 River Styx/Schlafly Beer Micro-Fiction Contest, garnered an honorable mention from Glimmer Train, and has published a number of nonfiction books, including Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian Futurism (Race Point Publishing, 2013).