1. Cheating, ingesting what should not be taken in

    a. Ex: bean salads; and gristly cabbage; and kiwi with all the tiny seeds; and corn;
    and peanut butter on crackers; and red wine bought to pair with the Alfredo pasta;
    and chocolate pudding in a fancy, metal ice cream dish
    b. Often, consequences remain unseen, biding their time, to be felt in the gut later

  2. The body learns how to hold on to even the insubstantial again, the scale tilts

    a. A friend says, see this as evidence
    b. Of what
    c. Of recuperation

  3. A lost friend, the one who took the patient to the hospital for a CT scan just a year ago,
    who sat next to the patient as she ingested bottles of contrast dye to enhance the lines of
    her organs
    a. Why, because of my calls, isn’t it? Too many of them, asking if it will return, my
    voice all rimmed with tears
    b. What words can you give to silence
  1. A new language has been learned—the patient is at partial fluency, understanding the
    twinges of muscles and insides
    a. Also, of bile and the colors left on a tissue after wiping
    b. Beware, the patient can only interpret the signals, the demands for help
    c. She will never hold a conversation with her cells, but at least the body, constant
    companion, never quiets
  1. Panic, as the patient tries to understand
    a. Fears that menses blood is the wrong blood, that it is coming from the rectum as
    opposed to the lush vaginal opening where the body is just performing its monthly
    b. An urge to reach into the toilet and handle the feces, to parse them out and verify
    that the tomato skin caught in the middle isn’t a ripple of blood
  1. Thoughts like:

    a. I’ve done enough, this next time, if it is cancer, if I need to die, I’ll be satisfied

  1. Thoughts like:

    a. Give me anything, God, except that pouch, that colon replacement. I know I am
    supposed to love all bodies, but I do not know how I will look at myself if I must
    collect my waste outside my body and deposit it with my two hands

  1. Secret-keeping—before, there was no way to be close with another person without
    warning them about how the patient might get up four times during dinner to use the
    toilet (after the water, after the bread, after the meal, after the dessert)
    a. When it all comes back and the patient must tell her new friends and her new
    lovers, will she be a liar for her omissions
    b. Can she be loved, still, after that inevitable resurgence
    c. Or, the real question: was she loved in the first place or was that love only for
    those healthy, uncomplicated parts of her




Eshani Surya is is a current MFA student in fiction at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she also teaches undergraduates. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter Online, Lunch Ticket, and Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, among others. Eshani also serves as a reader of fiction at Sonora Review. Find her on Twitter @__eshani.

“Between Colitis Flares, Expect the Following Symptoms” is the winner of the 2016 Ryan R Gibbs Flash Fiction contest judged this year by Mary Miller. Please see our contest page for more information.