Cell Songs
“Listen.” Dr. Roth nudges the volume and we three—the doctor, Sam, and I—listen to the high, trembling chorus coming out of the machine. The digital recording from Sam’s biopsy came back from the sonocytology lab earlier today.

Upon waking last night in his hospital bed, Sam’s eyes pooled with tears, but my son, my heroic nine-year-old, did not cry though the pain, I knew, was unimaginable. His small, pale hand gripped mine until the codeine began working through him, tricking his brain receptors so that he slept once more.

Yesterday morning, Dr. Roth played samples from lab recordings of other patients’ bone marrow cells. Like an old-fashioned record needle shrunken to atomic size, the sonocytographer had transcribed every tiny vibration of the cells—their “voices,” he explained, trying to ground the flight of panic I’ve been fighting without relief since Sam’s first blood test.

“Hear this deep, roaring sound? That’s what we want to hear. It means healthy cells, no cancer.” Then he pressed a different button.

The sound I heard then is the one now filling my son’s little white room.

“It’s so beautiful, Daddy,” Sam says. “They sound like angels.”

SHOSHANA SUMRALL FRERKING is a technical writer in Lincoln, Nebraska. Growing up on a farm in the western part of the state, she began to write stories around the time she learned to walk. Her short fiction has been published in numerous small literary journals. A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Shoshana lives in Lincoln with her husband, Todd, oldest stepson, Drew, and their three cats, Misery, Granger, and Mac. Author website: www.shoshanasumrallfrerking.com