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THINGS THAT DON'T SHOW
September 17, 2004
 
I just got a pacemaker, I told the ticket agent at the airport. I know you're supposed to tell people at airports if you have a pacemaker, and I decided to start right off the bat with her. Just tell Security when you get over there, she said calmly.

I have a pacemaker, I told the security agent, producing my official pacemaker card. The security agent didn't seem especially interested in my news, and didn't look at my card. Aisle Four, she said, They'll pat you down. The Aisle Four agent seemed bored by the pacemaker, too. I'm going to touch your back, okay, Ma'am? she said unenthusiastically, and I assented. She proceeded to touch just about every part of me except for the interesting little bulge under which the device nestled. She didn't want to see my official card, either. Just my sandals.

I just got a pacemaker, I told the General Electric service representative on the phone last night. We have just been given a microwave oven, and I wanted to be sure an appliance war wouldn't touch off an explosion in my chest if I tried to heat up a cup of cold tea in the microwave. It says it's not a problem if your microwave was manufactured after 1992, she said, after a long pause while she looked up "pacemakers" in her manual. Yours was made in 1999, so I guess you're okay. She sounded bored, too. Young people today just don't care about pacemakers.

It doesn't show. The little hill it makes under my skin is barely noticeable, even when you look at it closely. I am quite well, now, about 90% of my former self, I would say, and my appearance gives no sign that I've ever been anything else. But I find myself thinking about it often during the day, touching the wound, feeling its foreign presence in my chest. I lift my arm up as far as my shoulder, often, and fight the temptation to lift it further, as I am forbidden to do for another two weeks. It doesn't show. But I feel it fearfully.

What other things don't show? Who walks the sidewalks, drives by in a car, who clinches a deal on the telephone, who rings up a sale, who comforts a child or bakes a cake or preaches a sermon, and bears a wound that does not show? Lots of people, I think. Everyone, probably, at one time or another. How're you doing? someone asks. Fine, you say, and you?

And they say that they are just fine.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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