Excerpt, continued

“Love,” her doctor assured her, “is a very popular word.”

She sat in the office with its impersonal tan walls and medical equipment—here is that funny thing that squeezes your arm to take your blood pressure, here is the stethoscope, here the glass jar with wooden tongue depressors. She retracted her hands into the soft sleeves of her sweater, squeezing her fists shut.

Her doctor was a unassuming man who seemed as young as the field in which he was practicing. He was unsmiling, and frequently polished his glasses against his white coat. After several seconds of silence, he said, “It’s a simple procedure.”

“What is your word?” she asked before he could finish. Then, she realized her mistake and laughed nervously. “I mean…describe it.”

“Oh, I have several words,” her doctor shrugged, taking off his glasses. “Usually, people get them done in sets of four. You do know about our buy one get one free deal, right?” He wiped his lenses carefully, his eyes still trained on her, but squinting now.

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