Orbyset

Are you having difficulty getting started? Experiencing frequent urges to go? Has your prostate ballooned to proportions that defy the laws of medical science?

Does it taunt you? Rip you from the comfort of your recliner—Scotch in hand, afghan on legs—and send you crawling back to your cold, porcelain master? Does it double you over in agony? Has it summoned a cabal of doctors to your bedside who prod you with needles, stroke their chins, take diligent notes?

As you slide into the dark metal tube, do you wonder why your daughter, Linda, has yet to call you, send you a card, shoot you even the most cursory “get well” text? She must know about your health—what with the emails you and Greg have been exchanging.

Greg’s communications are succinct, matter-of-fact:

Hi Al,

Medicare covers your MRI, but not your biopsy.

Best,

Greg

Never does he ask how you’re feeling. And never does he deviate from that sign-off: Best. Like you’re just another faceless policyholder. Do you feel, as his father-in-law, you deserve something more personal? A Best Wishes, a Kind Regards, even—dare you think it—a Love?

As the tube begins to whir, do your thoughts, inevitably, shift back to Linda? Does she still have your eyes—green with hazel rings encircling her pupils? Can you see the stars reflected in them? The distant galaxies she beholds from the observatory? There is a cold, catalogued quality to their names: IOK-1, MACS0647-JD, UDFj-39546284. The thrill of discovery has worn off.

Can you hear your blood pounding through your skull? When you shut your eyes, do you see Greg and Linda, sighing contentedly atop their double king? That bedroom, glimpsed once through the half-open door, remains etched in your memory: the hanging vines, the eggshell walls, the morning light slanting through the French doors… If you concentrate, can you make out their murmurs from the hallway? Do you catch your name? Or is it conspicuously absent?

When you slide out of the tube, does Dr. Stills wax poetic about the limitations of magnetic resonance imaging, the mysteries of the human anatomy, etc.? Do you stare in horror as she gesticulates at the screen? At the white mass that threatens to engulf all in its path?

As you slump into the front seat of your Corolla, does the two-time-zone distance between you and Linda suddenly feel… intentional? Calculated? Do you drop this line of thought because, Jesus Christ, your seat belt doesn’t fit?

Do you ditch your car and sprint down the block? Do surrounding objects—trash bags, newspapers, discarded beer cans begin to levitate? Do your palms break out in a cold sweat when the realization hits you—they’re not levitating… they’re orbiting…

Does your prostate amass larger moons as you sprint toward the I-25 exit? Toward the red desert expanse, the violently blooming wildflowers? Does the debris in your orbit attract a pack of rabid news choppers, their maniacal whirs drowning out all semblance of thought?

When you reach the jutting red cliff—the one you and Linda used to stargaze from on cool fall evenings—do you pause? Do you contemplate the winding river, so far below you it may well be a pencil mark?

Do you behold your many moons? Do they swirl around you, too quickly to catalogue nor comprehend? The blinking construction signs, the still-crackling telephone wires, the newspaper boy pleading for mercy?

Does a sudden realization wash over you? For the last two decades, you’ve been one of these moons. An insignificant little rock on the edge of Linda’s orbit, entering her view on two astrologically-ordained occasions per year—Thanksgiving and Christmas. Destined to, otherwise, circle in her shadow, unseen, unacknowledged because “work is crazy right now.”

Do you step up to the edge of the cliff, sending stray pebbles tumbling into the abyss? Do you put a foot out? Close your eyes? Feel the dry desert wind on your face? Contemplate if you’ll fall to your death? Or if you’ll ascend into the cosmos, a khaki-and-New-Balance-clad dwarf planet? Another speck of light for Linda to study through a lens?

Not to worry—for men over 40, there’s prescription Orbyset. It treats benign prostatic hyperplasia, so you can continue your trajectory, a distant reference point in someone else’s night sky.

Image by Cody Board via Unsplash

About the author

Derek Andersen is an Illinois Wesleyan alum working as a copywriter in Chicago. His stories and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Emerson Review, WinningWriters.com, Maudlin House, and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter @DerekJAnd.

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