My Particular Tumor
Josh Denslow

The most interesting thing about me is that I shared my mother's womb with a tumor for three months. I was scheduled to die upon its removal. But I persevered. (Persevered = stuck with it.) The second most interesting thing about me is that every morning I write a sentence about my life in a spiral-bound journal using the Word-of-the-Day. The word arrives via email from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online along with a definition and the part of speech. (Via is a fancy way to say by.)

When tumors are removed, they are dumped in the trash to ponder what they did wrong. My particular tumor may have wondered why I didn't go with him. We were pretty tight.

The most interesting thing about tumors is that, unlike people, they only come in two types: benign or malignant. Benign is a houseguest. Malignant burns your house down and takes you with it.

My particular tumor didn't spit in the brownies he made in home economics class in eighth grade and give them to Charlie Kirkpatrick who promptly ate them. (Promptly = immediately.) My particular tumor didn't break up with his girlfriend for the weekend he went to Breckinridge with his friends so he wouldn't feel guilty if he hooked up with a girl. My particular tumor didn't squander all of the money his dad left him when he died. My particular tumor didn't take his girlfriend for granted and desperately ask her to marry him when she moved on ten years later. My particular tumor didn't spend the last few years growing bald and watching TV and shunning outside contact.

Another interesting thing about tumors is that they are actually called neoplasms. Tumor is the Latin word for swelling and the tumor in my mother's womb would have kept growing until I was suffocated. To mitigate the pain, the doctor told my mom that there was a small chance I would make it through the surgery. (Mitigate = to give false hope.)

When I die, I want to know if anyone says anything nice about me. In fact, I'm obsessed with it. Another interesting thing about me is that I'm constantly thinking of ways to fake my own death. The younger you are when you die, the nicer the things they say about you. But that's because they never got to truly know you.

My particular tumor probably wondered why I didn't die like I was supposed to. I lie in bed and listen to the clanking of the icemaker and the gentle shuffle of feet above me. When the light goes out on the gas station sign across the street, my room is plunged into darkness. (I associate the word plunge with knives.) I pull my blanket over my head so my eyes don't adjust, and I breathe heavily as my body heat swirls around me.

There's plenty of room for someone else in here.

Josh Denslow has stories in or coming from Black Clock, Twelve Stories and others. He plays drums in the band Borrisokane.

Detail of illustration on main page courtesy of scndmg.

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