The doctor looks at the numbers on the sheet, then motions for her to scoot down to the edge of the table. The pad underneath crinkles. One stirrup on each side, steel horse heads whose duty is to open. Flop your legs outward like a frog, she says; this won’t take long. On the tray table: clean instruments, the first one for widening and looking in. A nurse in latex gloves hands her an extractor and hook. Dull tug and a moment’s felt twinge, after which she holds up the curved filament that lodged ten years in the mouth of her womb. By this token she’s made to understand: she’s past the period of accidental danger, past the years of fertile flush. When she stands to take off the paper robe and reclaim her clothes, for a moment it’s as if she can feel that space of newly hollow quiet. Sometimes people who are moving ask at the grocery stores for cardboard boxes that held produce— the ones for bananas marked “bananas,” the ones for oranges perhaps marked “naranja.” They put books or documents or kitchenware in them; a whiff of citrus oil or trace of ammonia lets you know what kinds of things they used to hold.

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