The following is a list of fears that did not come to pass, even though I was certain that they would.
Last year, a small piece of carrot got lodged in my throat. I could breathe properly, but I was afraid the carrot would tip sideways in my throat, kind of like a tree going ‘timber,’ and block my airway. It did not do that.
I ran into my friend, Lauren, outside of my apartment two years ago. I was smoking at the time, and I had a lit cigarette in my hand, and when I hugged her I thought I may have caught her hair on fire. It all happened so quickly. For the rest of the day I waited for Lauren’s text that would say, ‘You lit me on fire.’ But it never came.
Earlier today, I put some Neutrogena pimple cream on my chin. I drank some water afterwards and the water tasted a little chemically. ‘Did I swallow some Neutrogena?’ I wondered. My throat began to feel numb. Breathing felt voluntary. But it’s been ten hours since that happened and I can breathe just fine.
A month ago I held the door for an old lady at the supermarket. It was awkward because there was a vestibule so I kind of had to hold two doors at once. I simply couldn’t handle it and one of the doors hit her shoulder. She was like 100 and old people bruise really easily, and I thought, ‘She’s going to report me and I’m going to be arrested.’ But she didn’t and I wasn’t.
It had been a while since I turned in an essay this past semester, and I didn’t know what was taking my TA so long to grade it. ‘Could I have accidentally plagiarized?’ I began to wonder. I waited for someone at the university to say that my TA had reported me. But I didn’t plagiarize after all, and I got a 98.
I babysat my nephew, Sawyer, when he was nine months old. After I changed his diaper I tried to put him in his jammies, but his little arm wouldn’t go through the sleeve of his onesie. I finally got it through, but afterwards it felt a little bendy. I thought, ‘Is little Sawyer’s arm going to be bendy forever?’ He’s three years old now, and his arm seems fine.
Two summers ago I got a mysterious rash on my stomach. ‘It’s cancer,’ I said. The doctor said, ‘No, it’s pityriasis rosea.’ I asked him how I got it. ‘From stress,’ he said.
Five years ago there was a small red mark next to my eye that wouldn’t go away. I talked to my friend, Jenny, about it while I was highlighting her hair. ‘Let’s Google Image skin cancers,’ she said. ‘How about we don’t?’ I said. Later that night, after I scoured the internet for a few hours, I decided it was ocular herpes. TBH I still don’t know what it was, but it’s gone.
Over the winter I got caught in a rainstorm. I didn’t have any gloves and I had to hold my umbrella. I was meeting some friends on West 84th, and by the time I got there my hand was seriously numb. Like crazy numb. I thought about how everybody in that movie Everest lost their noses and whatnot. But I still have all of my digits.
After my third date with my husband, I texted that I liked him. He didn’t respond. A day later I texted, ‘Are you alive?’ Nothing. I wouldn’t have known if he died because we didn’t have any friends in common and we weren’t friends on Facebook. ‘He’s either dead or he wants to puke when he touches me,’ I decided. Four days later I discovered that weird Facebook inbox where messages go from people who aren’t your friends. ‘Not sure if you tried to reach me,’ it read, ‘but my phone broke and I’m waiting for a replacement. Hope to see you soon.’
Numbers 11 through 100 are the times I thought I was having a heart attack.