Clinic, Age 4

Jennifer Gravley

You only go when you are the kind of sick that needs a shot. You go to the clinic and not a doctor. You see whatever doctor is at the clinic. The doctors have white hair and are men. Your mother holds you down over her lap while you get a shot. Your little sister fights everything so hard she hurts more. You have seen her face streaked with snot. You have seen her pound her limbs in front of strangers. You have seen her held down in the end. Her screams already live in the sponge inside your bones. You go to the clinic. You go before they open so you don’t have to wait as long. The waiting room is slick with sick. You aren’t allowed to touch the toys which are meant for you. Your ears and throat throb. You are the quiet one. This day the door is thrown open, and one girl bigger than you does not wait. Her daddy carries her like a baby. Her screams recall your sister’s screams hiding in your bones. She is gone before you can see how her hand dangled. Her hand dangled in the night. You stick in your plastic chair. Everything hurts as if you are fighting. The night is full of teeth.

Author Portrait

Jennifer Gravley makes her way in Columbia, Missouri. She is a writer of sentences and a watcher of bad television. Her work has recently appeared in North American Review, Heron Tree, and Sweet, among others.

View the website of Jennifer Gravley