I was shot up with painkillers before she turned on the drill. She said the rapid heartbeat is normal. It’s an adrenaline rush, she said, which explained why my hands were shaking. My mouth was stuffed with gauze and tubes. My chest felt small and hallow. I looked out the window at the alley, watching the late afternoon sun spread shadows across the wall. If you need a shot anywhere, she said, always choose the upper-back part of your mouth. Then she turned on the noise inside my head, and I drifted. 


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