Forty degrees out, a quarter to nine a.m., and I’m standing at the door of a wig shop, in three layers of clothes and a newsboy cap, waiting to be buzzed in. That’s how it works. If Mary doesn’t like the looks of you, she’s not letting you in. It’s like a chemo speak-easy. She squints at me from behind the glass, wearing a kind of ruffled, knit ascot and a captain’s hat, maybe eighty-something years old. A little younger than my grandmother, anyway. I’ve shaved my head since the last time I was here, though that’s mostly disguised under the cap, and maybe Mary’s squinting because she’d wanted to be the one to shave it or maybe she’s squinting because she has no idea who I am. I smile wide, wave big, even though it’s four days after my first chemo treatment and I’d rather roll myself into a blanket cocoon in my living room and listen to tropical ocean surf on a loop. I haven’t had it that rough, actually. But today the aftermath of chemo has turned the cold into a hell-freeze kind of cold and my headache into Chernobyl. And any second now I might cry just because the weed in the sidewalk crack has two shoots instead of three. This is where I am when Mary unlatches the door and stumbles backward just a little with her face in a confused twist.

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