She shows me how she's patiently worked her way towards a difficult yoga pose, adjusting her legs in increments over weeks. Now she sits with serenity, as if the arrangement of her lower body doesn't register in her conscious mind.
Her job duties include ignoring the phone and investigating vacation spots on Google Maps.
The sun turns to ashes behind an aluminum fence.
A mug of tea warming my hands. A conversation that passes with no bitter words.
The dog, calming on my lap, is a pounding heartbeat wrapped in hair.
The store smells of sawdust and wheaty things. Breathy acoustic versions of pop songs make background noise.
She sinks the needle into one arm, then the other. Gives me a bewildered look, as if to ask, "Are you human?" and leaves to search for a second phlebotomist: the one I call "The Vein Whisperer," who trails her fingers along my forearms, taps the skin, holds the needle poised above the surfacing vessel.