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University Dances: Book Blitz

Girl, don’t do it; it’s not worth it. Don’t do it… Don’t do it, Cami. Last time was supposed to be it! Don’t…
Paper crinkled under Cami as she shifted on the exam table, facing the cabinet on the wall. It held a box of gloves, a thermometer, an otoscope, and the little disposable thingies that went with it. She exhaled shakily and squeezed her eyes shut. I swear I’m just thinking about stealing the doctor’s glove; I’m not gonna do it. Last time was it… They are good for cleaning. It would be awful if Devin had to bail me out of jail for stealing gloves in a doctor’s office. I’ll get expelled from school and be forced onto the mean streets of the Tenderloin. I’ll have to fight cats for chicken bones and steal cough syrup to stay high.
Cami’s karma was shot to hell based on her last six months of existence. She didn’t want the big man upstairs to send a bolt of lightning down to obliterate her.
She would be good…
Pushing herself up, she strained to hear any footsteps in the hall. The doctor wouldn’t notice a few missing gloves, would she?
Her phone dinged twice with a text message. It was her best friend, Deja. Saved by the bell.
Where are you?? I thought we were getting lunch? Winter and I are in the restaurant.
Cami slapped her forehead. How could she forget? It was their annual back-to-school tradition. Lunch in Japantown and mochi ice cream afterward. A staple in their friendship since freshmen year and even more important since last semester.
I had to meet with my adviser. 🙁 Let’s meet for dinner?
Deja’s reply was instant.
Fine. Take a sneak pic of your adviser. Clark is foine.
Cami hung her head. Why did I lie? Deja and Winter, her best friends, knew about her hospital stint. They visited her every day until they had to go home for summer break, right before she finally received her diagnosis. Cami still couldn’t utter the words chronic disease…
She told herself she would confess to them, but when the moment came, she found herself saying viral infection instead. Each time after that, the lie flowed easier and it became harder and harder for her to backpedal. She told herself lying was for a good reason. Cami was tired of being the one people needed to look after. She was reinventing herself after this setback, presenting herself as independent and poised. Even if it was a façade.
Anxiety churned in her stomach, and she hoped her doctor would come back with the results she wanted. A glance at her phone let her know the time.
12:04 PM.
How long had she been sitting here? Twenty or thirty minutes? It was the first day of the semester, and Cami wasn’t letting it slip through her fingers. It was late August and freezing in San Francisco because of the coastal fog and wind. She tugged at the pink chunky sweater she’d paired with a skirt and combat boots. She pulled her knotless braids over her shoulder, biting her lip with a glance at the door before she pushed herself off the exam table.
“I’m just gonna take one. I’ve been through a lot,” she muttered, justifying the petty theft.
Cami plucked a glove from the box and held her breath as if alarms would sound. Once the coast was clear, she took another. Then another. Her hands were full as someone knocked at the door. She squealed, dropping some contraband as she darted across the room and shoved the gloves into her book bag, and plopped her butt back on the exam table, winded from that simple yet covert act.
“Y-yes?”
She tried placing a neutral expression on her face, hoping it didn’t reveal how fast her heart was beating, or her fear that a minor sprint consumed most of her energy.
The door opened, and her doctor’s head appeared. “Camille?”
“Dr. Aguilar.”
The last time Cami was in a hospital, besides her own illness, she found out her father had died. Of course, she didn’t remember this. She had been a toddler; her mother and brother recounted the story solemnly to her years later. It was a good enough excuse to avoid hospitals ever since.
Dr. Aguilar almost changed her mind about hospitals. The older woman’s aura of calmness and matronly appearance never failed to put her at ease. Bracelets adorning both arms and rings on all fingers. Plump. Graying hair. She smiled and her eyes went to the blue glove lying on the floor.
“The gloves fell out of the box…” That was a lame excuse.

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