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Polly pauses on the second step from the bottom wondering if she forgot something upstairs, but she can’t think what it could be. Her wallet? No. The new health insurance card she got in the mail and never put in her wallet? No. Lip balm? Yes, but that’s not it. The lip balm is much too large to bring with one to a doctor’s appointment, besides it’s stuck to the floor. Oh and that reminds her to ask for the bubblegum flavored lube this time.

The Planned Parenthood is right down her street. On her walk, she’s thinking about the food blog she checks every evening before bed, where the food is dry and tasteless and she’s not entirely sure it’s not done on purpose. About the way that man barely boils the sausage so it looks raw, the way he creates less than layers of a shepherds pie, the way he shreds cabbage in a bowl and calls it coleslaw, the way he makes a grilled cheese in a pita pocket without melting the cheese; she stubs her toes on the lip of the doorway into the Planned Parenthood.

On the corner some protesters walk in small circles from the no parking sign to the corner, and back. Polly smiles at a child sitting under the mini-mart awning, an empty stroller wedged next to her, homemade neon-green poster board sign gripped between fingers, the sweat leaving a smudge on the cardboard.

Inside they ask for Polly’s name and date of birth.

“Polly Pita Pocket, no sorry, just Polly Pocket. I was thinking about having a pita pocket for dinner and well, y’know, sorry.” The receptionist doesn’t seem to register what she said. “August 19, 1989,” Polly ends with.

Polly finds the waiting room chairs overstuffed, her bottom can’t seem to settle in, her legs too short. In fact her legs never touch the ground in any chair or sofa she sits on. She had a 70s style conversation pit in her old house, but she never got much use out of it. She stood in the center of it most often, contemplating sitting down, but knowing by the sinking feeling in her groin the conversation pit did not want her there.

The doctor presses the stethoscope to her chest, her back, checks her eyes with the light, taps her knee with that rubber hammer thing. She has poor reflexes but the doctor doesn’t seem concerned. Polly asks the doctor about the mild cramping she’s been getting in between her periods. The doctor wonders if it could be IBS and not cramps at all. What with the strange foods Polly has been trying out from her food blogs, it well could be, but Polly thinks cramping has more style, more flair, than IBS. Neither come to an agreement on what the mysterious pain in Polly’s abdomen is, and the appointment ends.

Polly looks in the lubricant basket on her way out. They have the bubblegum kind. She won’t have to ask this time, which she knows isn’t a problem here, but it is a little strange to ask for something so specific when alone. If she had a friend with her, like when she was young at a candy store, the kind with the bins and the candy shovels and the little plastic bags, maybe she would feel okay about asking, if the friend wanted some too.

The girl from the front of the mini-mart is pacing back and forth with the grownups. She looks both enraged and confused as she lip-syncs the words to the other people screaming around her. Polly tries to catch her eye, but the girl has turned, uninterested. Another doctor arriving to work hisses, “Don’t linger,” at Polly as they trip over the step on their way inside. Polly hops home, smacks some lip balm on, and screams as the child did, into a void, the darkest of clamshells snapping shut.