I’m not superstitious. I’ve never knocked on wood with sincerity, I don’t avoid walking beneath ladders, and my only concerns about black cats are allergy-related. And yet, there I stood, an hour from home, inspecting myself in a bathroom. I slipped the pants off my waist and they dropped into a pile onto the floor. I lifted my shirt over my head, folded it, and placed it neatly on the counter. I stared at my naked body in the mirror: my bloated belly covered in blue and purple bruises bleeding one to the next, as though painted in water colors; injection tracks up and down both arms. I turned my attention to the list written on laminated cardstock next to the sink.
Remove all barriers on your body.
Slowly, I ripped the bandaids off my belly, arms, and lower back, adding blotches of pink and red to the color palette on my body.
Remove nail polish. Clip nails.
Lifting my hands out in front of me, I inspected them closely. Engulfed in a flood of anxiety, I had already gnawed the whites off of each nail. There was a time when I had beautifully manicured nails. On my wedding day I had French tips.