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Gulp

Janet hasn’t been able to eat for days. The office is as crazy as ever, but that has never really affected her appetite before. If anything, she’s long believed the stress keeps her figure trim. Sure, her son is leaving for college and flying the coop in a few weeks, but she’s been bracing for that inevitability for years now. That’s not it. No, this involves something she’s not sure she can even articulate to anyone without sounding insane: four days ago, someone stole her esophagus.

She had woken up that morning feeling strange, as if she had a mild case of heartburn but with a ghostly sense to it. Feeling okay, if bewildered, she opted for her usual breakfast of a banana and cereal, but stopped short after the first swallow. The slurry she had chewed the food into felt like it just…plopped into her chest cavity, the coolness of the milk spreading around what she thought were her lungs. Janet stopped eating immediately and hasn’t touched a bite since. There have been a few times she tried drinking water, but that same strange recognition of a directionless flow pulled her back right away.

Of course she’s considered going to the doctor. Yet it feels impossible to even describe her symptoms, let alone fully convince herself what she knows to be the truth. Dr. Moore will probably think me hysterical and give me anti-anxiety medication or something, she thinks, and how would I swallow that? Could she even get far enough along in convincing someone to take an MRI of her chest before she found herself in a straightjacket? She can breathe, can’t she? So clearly all that’s missing is the section past the epiglottis, after the lungs/stomach fork in the road, and how can that even make any sense? Who’d believe any of this? Maybe she really should just be sedated for a week or two, though obviously by IV.

So she goes to work each day, wondering how long this can last. Janet assumes she’ll collapse from dehydration at some point, which for now seems like the best option for selling Dr. Moore on the MRI. If it happens at the office though, Lord knows how Angela will react. It’s undeniable that she’s the esophagus thief, given her history of exhaustive complaining of reflux issues and her seemingly miraculous recovery from those four days ago. The smirking eyes say it all, but how can Janet accuse her without appearing deranged? Better to crumple to a heap at the copier and chance a trip in an ambulance. Let some authorities get involved, maybe the police somehow. There’s no other way.

She’s just so tired.

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