Mom signed us both up for dance lessons even though it was only you who wanted to go. Every Wednesday I cried the whole drive there and sulked the whole way back.
“You can’t keep getting out of stuff by acting like this Alex. You need to try.” Mom said while I sobbed and begged. You rolled your eyes from the seat next to me and told me I’m so full of shit.
Mom kept her eyes on the road and said nothing.
I know there is something deeply wrong with me. Something horrid and festering like mold. It sits in my stomach accumulating mass and stretching its long fingers up my throat.
I know everyone else can sense it too, like how dogs can smell cancer. When I pass strangers on the street, they look at me, and I know they know it too.
I can feel everyone getting tired of me.
You weren’t actually any good at dancing. You were clumsy and couldn’t keep time. But you made friends with all the other girls on the first day and you never cared that people were watching you.
Even though you couldn’t exactly dance you could throw yourself around; you’ve always been good at taking up space.
That Wednesday the rot inside me had erupted into fire overnight and I could barely sit up straight. I threw up into your lap and, while I watched you cry and gag while mom scraped vomit off your leotard in a gas station parking lot, I thought ‘you deserve this’.
“Jesus Alex it’s everywhere. Why didn’t you tell me something was wrong?” Mom says without looking at me; she’s still preoccupied with your leotard.
“Appendicitis,” the doctor calls it, “good thing you came in when you did.”
“I don’t know why she didn’t say anything sooner.” Mom says, as if she hasn’t known for years. I’m not sure if she pretends for my sake or her own. I’m afraid to ask.
The doctor says I must be a pretty tough kid and Mom doesn’t respond. She thinks I’m the helpless one.
When I ask to see what they took out of me I’m surprised that what the doctor brings back is pink and tubular; not at all the black, solidified rot I’d always pictured. When she lets me hold it I can’t believe how small it is.
I carry it in my lap the whole drive home, wrapped in a paper bag because you said you’d throw up too if you had to look at it.
I ask if people have more than one appendix and you ask me why I’m so stupid. Mom tells you to be quiet. I never go to another dance class again.
At home I put the jar on my dresser, uncovered and wait to feel right. The doctor said it might take a few days.
Renee writes fiction from Toronto. She currently has flash fiction out in Daily Drunk Mag and is working on her first novel.