Living by Numbers: One
by Emmanuelle Dauplay

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I am sitting across from him at the desk. My foot kicks his and I apologize. I am listening conscientiously to every word that is coming out of his mouth, looking at the movement of his lips, enjoying the elocution, the tonality, the liveliness, the uniqueness of his speech, listening to pieces of advice, descriptions, talks of a disease, of summer houses, of the heat settling and of long days to be spent with family.

The last button of his shirt is undone and so I admire his skin. Soft, fair, thin, sensitive. Naturally I unbutton the rest, and now I am sitting on his lap caressing his neck gently with my hand, and his shoulder with just a finger. Laying a kiss in diagonal between the cheekbone and the ear, stroking his hair, resting the back of his head in my palm as I kiss his wonderful lips, and he kisses me back, and he holds me.

He is prescribing me a new medication; it could put an end to my fantasy, but no actually, not even, as my attention is drawn to the slight tilt of his head, to the right, to his right, as he picks up a pen and starts to write. Height, weight, numerous pressures, dosages, milligrams, dates. His arms, through his shirt, seem strong enough, strong and delicate, both endearing and steady. There is no picture of his wife, or children, on his desk, but there is a ring on this particular finger of his left hand, which lays flat in front of me, right in front of me actually, so flat, so immobile, just still and outstretched and yet it seems to be formulating its own sentence, on the line connecting my third eye to the ring. Clearly there is a loud message on that line, very loud but not convincing enough to act as a barrier to my feverish desire for nakedness, his nakedness. He seems so clean, so polished and neat that I am sure I would feel comfortable were he not wearing any clothes. I would feel completely at ease discussing the future of my health, my body, prognosis and side effects, if he were sitting there facing me, naked.

I guess at the shape of his legs, under his grey flannel pants, and I wonder if he is a runner. I am sure he has a boat; he looks perfectly oxygenated. Balanced. Centred. Not seduced by me, at all. I glance at his shoes and imagine him and his wife choosing them together, deciding that they’re fine, well-fitting, classic. He looks calmly contented, happy, with his shoes, and his wife. In love with everything in life, ambitious, hungry and sated at the same time.

When he reaches for my heart I am too scared to let it beat fast. I hold my breath in an awkward way, too intimidated to talk, which is a shame because I have a great sense of humour, too shy to ask any of the questions that circulate like a typhoon in my head, it’s getting pretty loud in there and it’s making me dizzy. Still I remain quiet, and he looks at me with probing eyes, probably wondering if I am going to show some interest, in his work, his research, his achievements, but I cannot say a word, I want him so much that there’s nothing else to express. My senses have been taken over, I don’t even know what mood I am in, I show no reaction, I feel like a newborn baby or a dying woman, I am overwhelmed. I am a patient. It’s not like I would stand a chance, even if he were available. Not because it would be unethical, I could always switch doctors, but because I am the sick one, the one who suffers. When he looks at me, he knows I am the one fantasizing, he sees organs and the connections they make, when he looks at me he sees through the skin, the envelope has no meaning, no matter how kind and seductive the letter within, he sees the blood flow, the thickness of the artery wall, inflammation, abnormalities, enemies of attractiveness, an antithesis of innocence. I have to admit defeat, live with the impossibility of love, of togetherness, of reproduction, of the reproductive act even. Well, at least, that’s how I see it. And, yet, there I sit, so sexual.

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Except where stated, all material copyright © Emmanuelle Dauplay.