The Transformation

iris, purple iris“I can’t quite believe this,” the specialist exclaims.

These are words I like to hear from my agent when she’s scanning my just-written manuscript.

But they are not words a doctor should express to a new patient after he has taken a biopsy of a gland that popped out of nowhere on an until-now rather nondescript index finger.

“What, exactly, can’t you believe?” I ask the doctor, whose mouth is open while he reads the report on the computer screen in front of him.

I met this dermatologic specialist – 50ish, graying hair, kind blue eyes – a week ago at the advice of my GP. My pointing finger, as some call it, had become suddenly swollen over the past 15 days, from hardly noticeable to extremely painful as the size of the digit increased.sea monster, tail, magical realism

At first my GP thought I’d been bitten by a spider or bee, but tests discovered no poison and no reason for the swelling. An x-ray revealed a gland filled with … some purple substance.

The purple didn’t bother me as much as the fact that my GP explained: “we humans don’t have glands in our fingers.”

Thus, I was sent to this dermatologist, who stuck a long sharp needle in the troublesome digit. And here I am, three days later, waiting to hear the results.

Dr. Nomad pushes his chair back from his desk and suggests, “I need you to stay calm.”

I stand up, sit down again, and then stand. “What? What is wrong with my finger?”

The doctor gives me a disappointed glare, “I just told you to stay calm. We can figure this out.”

“Figure what out?” At his insistence, I sit down again, but not until he’s closed his office door.

“It’s not a gland, exactly, that is causing the swelling. It’s more like…” he pauses, then continues, “Have you experienced any other swelling with fingers, or in your hand?”

sea monster, magical realism, transformationI explain to the dermatologist that I’ve been ignoring what’s happened in the past three days, in which my middle finger is also swelling, and some skin is growing between the two fingers.

“Yes, just what I thought,” he nods, trying to hide the fascination in his face.

“What?!” At this point I’m ready to behead the man.

“The biopsy of the purple substance indicates that these are the same cells found in lizards.

My tongue snaps out. As quick as a flash. “I did not hear you correctly,” I announce, while at the same time my eyes, narrowing, sharpening my sight, detect more webbing on my fingers. My torso feels elongated. I touch my scalp; yes, it’s somehow feeling more pointed.

The transformation occurs so quickly that I can’t even remember how I slither out the door and find myself at my new abode.

Wangechi Mutu, Water Woman, The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria, Austin Tx

Soon after I encountered this Water Woman in Austin TX, I found the prompt “write about a biopsy.” As I wrote, she told me her story.

158 thoughts on “The Transformation

    • I wondered if I should have included a little ‘warning’ in the beginning of my story that this is the fictional “I,” but that would have detracted from the reading, I think. But thanks for the good thoughts. 🙂 So far, my tongue is not forked.

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    • I truly didn’t realize the effect the beginning of my story would have on readers. I feel badly, because I really appreciate the concern caused by the opening scene at the specialist’s office. I guess I need to find a way to begin each story with “fiction” or “non-fiction,” since I go back and forth each week. I use the tag of “Magical Realism” but it’s not seen until the end. If you have any suggestions, pass them on please. In the meantime, though, this story seems to have “snapped” reader’s attention. 🙂 ❤

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  1. I was on the edge of my desk chair until I fell into fantasy land with you, Pam. I LOVE how your mind works!

    Honestly, I guess there are worse things than becoming a Water Woman. Ha Ha!
    By the way, purple is the color of imagination and fantasy, and you have it in spades. 😀

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  2. What a whimsical, funny story Pam! I loved the line about the specialist’s mouth being open while he read the results… Hilarious 😉
    I once had a dermatologist say to me, “Well, THIS is interesting!” (Insert patient’s *disappointed glare*/slow-blinking-to-avoid-swearing here, lol.)

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    • I’m fascinated that my magical realism here, my story of fiction, is also in some ways a horror story for those who don’t like lizards. But as I just mentioned to Chatter Master (above), lizards are pretty cool creatures.
      Ahem. But you just made me check my fingers. So far, so good. 🙂

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    • I feel badly that readers like you thought it was the real “I” here, not a fictional one, Merril. Should I find a way to warn my readers ahead of time that this is another “I,” and not the me “I”? Complex! But on the other hand, I appreciate the concern and the relief from readers that I am indeed still hot-blooded, with no forked tongue or webbed fingers. 😉

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    • I don’t wish lizard-like conditions for you, Gerlinde, but I’m not happy that you need to see doctors. May they discover no purple blood, and may you be healthy and whole (and two-footed) for years on end.

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    • Sorry about that Mike. But Water Woman talked to me in her own “I” voice, and I had to keep her words just as she told them. So far, my writing hand is just fine (though it’s been slapped by a few readers). ;-0

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  3. I’m always amazed at how our creativity and inspirations seem to come out of anything that hits your brain cells like a hammer blow and you just have to write it down! You certainly did suck me in too, but I loved the story twist. . . . 🙂

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    • Well, you described how it is for me precisely. I can’t stop myself just like one can’t stop a hammer from hitting a nail. Whammo, and out comes the lizard. 🙂 So glad you enjoyed. Thank you.

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    • Many thanks, Susan. I swear, I began the story knowing that I was talking in Water Woman’s voice, but you all (as readers) didn’t know that, so the transformation came rather as a shock, it seems. 🙂

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    • The comments have been astounding to me, Louise. I didn’t know that most readers would assume it was ME who was turning into the lizard, but my “I” voice worked better (weirder?) than planned. And I know what you mean about using the word ‘behead.” I had tried to change it, but to be honest, some lizards do behead their enemies, and I think Water Woman was beginning to ‘come out’ at that point. ;-0

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  4. LOVE this Pam. At first I was worrying, then you made me think, no, there’s something not quite right here, and then boom! I love the way you did it with just the little details like the quick flick of the tongue so that the transformation seemed perfectly reasonable as a conclusion to the story.

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  5. “My tongue snaps out.” Oh what a gem you have here, Ms. Lizard. You continually inspire me to tell the story, no matter how weird or convoluted or strange it may seem to some. (Slithering away now…)

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  6. Oh my, you had me going for a minute there Pam, lol right until the “My tongue snaps out. As quick as a flash.” lol then I twigged, took me a while as I hadn’t seen the last picture until I scrolled down to it while reading.
    Thank you for my belly laugh today, I really did Laugh out LOUD.. 🙂
    Big Hugs and many thanks my friend, Laughter is food for the soul.. ❤

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  7. You were in Austin, TX? Lately? In the Summer???? OMG! I hope this was a while ago? NO one wants to be in Austin in the summer! Actually, the weather hasn’t been terrible in the past few weeks but a few days. But wouldn’t you know it? The very week there is a heatwave in New England, it’s in the 80s in Texas! Ugh! The first two days we were in Boston, it was a blistering 97 with a heat index over 100! What the?? However, it was wonderful in Maine by Monday when we arrived to 78 degrees. Not enough for me to wan to deal with the weather you guys get in the winter though!
    The trip up North was wonderful (if you don’t count the sore throat that hubby and I both got) *groan* But it didn’t interrupt the trip too much. Saw some beautiful places. Hope you are having a good summer too!

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    • I visited a good friend, who had just moved to Austin, in early April. Weather was perfect and we walked for miles. Austin is such a walkable city! (But not in the summer, for sure.) You choose the ‘wrong’ week to get to Boston this summer. We don’t have many ‘horrid heat’ spells like that one, but it was pretty horrid. Average days it’s in the 80s with up and down humidity. Hoping you blog about your visit – would love to hear more. ❤

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