Veins, feathers.

I lay my arm out as instructed, palm up. My skin is so vulnerable-looking, like a baby’s. I look at it, blinking, not thinking.

“Uncross your legs, dear. When you are asleep, we don’t want your limbs going numb. You’ll only be under a short while, but still. Now relax. Is it easy to get a vein in your right arm?”

I nodded, squeezed my eyes shut, waited for the pinch, the feel of my vein giving itself up to the surgical needle, the slow spreading of icicles through my arm that would signal sleep floating down on me. Feathers in a breeze, caught mid-air, somewhere between wakefulness and the unfurling of heavy velvet curtains. A hand moved to untie the gold silk braids that kept the stage in sight, and —

When I came to, the nurse’s voice slapped at my ear. “You did beautifully. You’re fine, fine.” The surgery was done. I was fine. A week to recover. Feathers in a breeze.