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Old Phone Number

April 18, 2012

The receptionist at the medical imaging place tapped my name into her computer and asked if I still lived on Pyrmont Bridge Road. “No,” I laughed, “I haven’t lived there since 1998.” She then read out my long ago phone number. It was nice to hear it again, like running into an old friend on the street. She erased the number from their records and replaced it with my current one. I sat down to wait and scribbled my old phone number on the back of a receipt, so I wouldn’t forget it. Once this number had been very familiar and centrally important but, like all old phone numbers, it moved towards obscurity once it was no longer in use.

When I was in the cubicle removing all my clothes apart from my “undie”, as the radiographer referred to it, and putting on a disposable gown, I remembered coming here in 1998. I had slipped and fallen down the steep stairs of my house, landing in a heap at the bottom to the surprise of my housemates, who were sitting smoking in the loungeroom. Worried I’d injured my neck, I went to the doctor who sent me for x-rays.  This event lingered in my memory as when I went for the x-rays I was asked to take out my earrings. I didn’t want to but I didn’t protest. I took out the eight silver rings as I watched my reflection in the mirror on the back of the door, afraid of my face’s sudden nakedness without them.

The same small square mirrors were still on the back of the cubicle door. Stuck to the wall beside it was a life-size photograph of a foetus and a list of warnings in a variety of languages to tell the technician if I was pregnant. Conscious of taking too long to get changed I concentrated on folding up my clothes and putting them in the basket provided for this. It felt crowded in the cubicle, with the foetus on the wall, and the face of my past self watching me from the mirror.

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