But you can see me under this green mesh by Renée Francoeur

No you can’t come with me, loverboy; they’d know then. I’ll tell the truth but offer no explanation: I’m going to Yellowknife for surgery. I won’t tell them that I will die if I don’t go. Perhaps they’ll think it’s a lump in my ovary or polyps popping up in my forearm—and I’m transforming into a teeth-baring, sardine-scaled sea creature.

Can I breathe under water now and spread my undulating body along sunken planks, picking up green coins for better luck next time? Does she have webbed feet? Is she finally getting her nose fixed? She looks fine. But she has stopped drinking coffee. Thank you for going to the pharmacy for us but you better not get on that plane with me.

I’m galloping as a terror-driven mammoth while sitting in the office, typing about a young boy drowning, in order to outrun this internal quickening. There is no quickening, stupid. Just a bloody blastocyst. Wrong; it’s a burrowing embryo now, holding my uterine lining hostage from the buttery caresses of the moon, talking paint samples and knitted booties with its new yolk sack neighbour. Stop this 3D pasty, pastel blood vessel puzzle. I don’t want to play and I don’t want to be punished.

I leave work alone and board the plane alone. I wear my sister’s gift of a fir-green clay earth goddess around my neck, my grandmother’s black opal on one hand and the white gold from Mama and Daddy on the other. This way, I’ll have something to hold onto while the other women are holding their friends’ hands as we all huddle together for IVs in too small a waiting room, trying to be quiet.

Yes, of course I can go on assignment just before the surgery—the same time when they ask about my emotional stability, and you know if you answer wrong, they’ll bring out the red tape and you haven’t told your mother so you can’t manage that bloody mess. But of course I’ll call that volunteer lifeguard to follow-up on the drowned boy and swing by her house for an interview. Not a problem. So long as you don’t go making assumptions.

I get off the shuttle at the boarding house but shouldn’t have bothered. I want to tell the nice lady at the reception desk with the felted brooch that I can’t stay in that ancient brown room with a roommate. Not for this. I want to lean my elbows on the counter and vomit the hot, foaming words out: “I can’t recover from an abortion here.” But I can’t. She can’t know. I want my mother to be outside in her Chevy truck. But she doesn’t know. And besides, she’s too busy gardening at her father’s grave. She comes from a long line of farmers who hold their lips tighter than I do.

I take a cab I can’t really afford back downtown, to the Yellowknife Inn where I can be alone with nuzzling swan necks of white sheets and look forward to a con panna the next day, after it’s over and the throbbing stops and my voice comes back. (Should I use a fake name for booking the room, I wonder.) The drive is peaceful through Old Town and its small, silent houses on Great Slave Lake soothe me. I can hear the water humming my name and I want to swim in that weedy hair, to be tickled, to be clean. I’m heavy with disarray. Heavy with old skins, with someone else’s fate.

I don’t shut-up during the entire procedure. The nurse practitioner now knows everything about growing my vegetables north of the sixtieth parallel. She knows how green this body is.

Loverboy flys up to get me at the hospital anyway. He has with him an enormous green bug jacket; it’s blackfly season. “You don’t have to hide now.”

Another woman I’d seen at the clinic boards the morning plane with us. I want to sit beside her and say nothing, because she knows. She avoids my eyes and I understand: don’t give it away. I see her walking in town later that summer, holding the hand of a screaming five year-old. I’m in my bug jacket and I want to share it with her, to touch her.

Renée Francoeur is a 27 year-old Canadian journalist. By day she writes for electrical contractors and by night she wields the purple prose pen. She loves German words in her ear, coconut coffee porter, wild buffalo, old tombstones and forgotten country bridges. She won third prize for the 2016 Women Inspirational Poetry Contest. See her entry, "He can break your heart for $30 at the Nordegg general store", at wipconline.com. She's also written for Standard Criteria. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.