There’s a tap on the door, as if I live in this tiny space rather than being a visitor. Dr. Ferriman comes in, a guy I’ve talked to about concussions and infected pimples, muscle pulls and my poor abused coccyx. My doctor has seen more of my skin than any male, ever, and always in a detached, clinical approach that made everything normal, his eyes assessing me the same way I determine the arc of my throw to second to pick off a runner.

So why is my smile tight when I greet him? Why is the heel of my foot nervously tapping against the edge of the metal table? Why is my paper gown fluttering along with the beat of my anxious heart?

It’s not because I lie right away—replying with the standard “fine” when he asks how I’m feeling. It’s not because of the flare of pain that pulls all language away from me when he rotates my leg. And it’s not because of the small pause before he agrees that I can return to school on crutches as long as I promise to practice good self-care. It’s because this appointment is almost over and I haven’t done what I need to do yet.

I need to ask for more Oxy, and I don’t know how.

There are many reasons for this. The first is that I’m not good at asking for help. When I was nine my chest of drawers toppled over onto me and instead of yelling for Mom or Dad I wiggled around until I could get a decent leg press on it and got it up off me. I was partly worried about getting in trouble for climbing it in the first place—which I was doing in order to swat a fly that had landed on the ceiling and had taunted me from there. But I was also embarrassed at being conquered by an inanimate object, something that today feels more insulting than that lazy fly had years ago, a dark blot against the white ceiling.

Dr. Ferriman is already up and off his stool, writing a pass for me to return to classes and a prescription for crutches. I’m looking at that pad and willing him to flip to a new page and write OxyContin, when I realize he’s not going to do that unless I ask.

So, screw it.

I have to say this right though, have to use the correct words and have the perfect expression in order to be what I am: a girl who needs a boost to get through the day. Not someone who likes the way the mattress sinks underneath her at night, the coolness of the sheets contrasting with the emanating warmth from the rush. Not someone who took another pill even though the pain was gone, but she hadn’t quite fallen asleep yet and wanted to recapture weightlessness just a little while longer. Not someone who felt a jolt of panic when she popped the top off her last bottle yesterday, only to find it empty.

I can’t be that girl. I have to be Mickey Catalan, who is beating the shit out of herself so that she can get back into the game, and just needs Oxy for a stepping-stone.

“So can I get something for the pain?”

It’s out before I think too hard about the words like I usually do. A blurt that is so against who I am as a human being that even my doctor is surprised, hand still on the half-open door as I lean against Helen W., all my weight on my arms.

“Let me see.” He taps away at the tablet he carries with him, pulling the door shut against the curious glance of an older woman in the hallway who overheard my question, her attention drawn away from her phone.

“We don’t normally prescribe that strong of a painkiller for long after surgery. And it looks like the prescription you already have shouldn’t run out for another two weeks,” Dr. Ferriman says.

“Oh wow,” I say. “That’s . . . weird.”

Softball doesn’t require a lot of lying. I don’t have the skills for this.

Dr. Ferriman makes the same face I saw when I came in with a cracked tailbone—again. It’s concern. And because I’ve spent so much time breaking myself and coming here to be healed, there’s a personal edge to it that I doubt all his patients get.

While that makes him a good person and a great doctor, it’s not what I need right now. I don’t need him caring, worrying, or overthinking this. What I need is for him to act like what he is—an overworked man with a lobby full of sick kids and irritated parents waiting on him. I need him to be in a hurry to move me along, to give me what I want in order to make it happen. But of course Mom would have never chosen a pediatrician like that. Instead I’ve got one of the best, most conscientious people on earth.

And I’m sure as shit not getting any more Oxy.

I reach past him, opening the door myself and pushing Helen W. out into the hallway. “A bottle probably rolled off my dresser,” I say. “I’m always bumping into things. Not so good with a walker, you know.”

I laugh, a loud, forced sound that makes a baby being weighed on a scale start crying. The mom gives me a dirty look as I hobble past the scale, and I mutter a quick apology as I squeeze around the woman who overheard me asking for more Oxy, her hand now protectively cupped under the elbow of an even older woman who is inching down the hallway with a cane. I’m moving Helen W. as fast as I can, building up a static charge from the cheap carpet that’s going to give me a zing next time I touch metal.

“Mickey,” Dr. Ferriman calls after me, but I’m in public now. He can’t say anything about Oxy, or even the prescription for crutches that I’ve got crushed in one hand, without infringing on my patient rights. And I doubt he’s going to chase me down and pull me into a side room for a private talk.

I white-knuckle Helen W. all the way into the waiting room to find Devra nowhere in sight. My phone vibrates in my hoodie pocket with a text, telling me she went next door to grab us both coffees and that she’ll meet me in the car. I feel oddly abandoned, left alone waiting for the elevator. I jab the down button, bringing with it a static zap that I can actually see, an explosion at the tip of my finger to match the one in my leg.

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