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Essay: Stolen Glance

When I get to the waiting room at the Women’s Imaging Center, almost every seat is taken.

“Looks like a full house,” I remark but no one answers. We are all waiting for mammograms and we are all a little tense. Even my “routine annual” is full of unknowns.

Emerging from the dressing room in my shapeless green gown, I find a place to sit next to the only person who isn’t in a gown. He is a young boy about twelve years old, hiding behind a fat science book.

I grab a celebrity magazine full of pictures and gossip. Flipping through it, I come upon some Hollywood starlets showing off their extravagant contours. No shapeless green gowns here; hardly any gowns at all.

Slowly I realize I’m not the only one gazing at these flashy photos. The young boy next to me has traded textbook biology for the real thing—and who could blame him? Not me, not in this room full of tense silence.

Then he looks up and we share a secret smile.

“Karen Anderson,” the technician says, standing in the doorway, and I remember where I am, remember to feel afraid.

But the fear has shifted, drifted away, and I stand up smiling.

Karen Anderson is a writer who lives and works in Traverse City, Michigan. She was a columnist for the Traverse City Record-Eagle for 30 years and published two collections.