"Hi, it's me."
"I was about to head your way and thought I'd give you a call first."
"Why are you crying then?"
"Really, it's nothing."
"Please tell me."
"Fine, then, I'm coming over."
"No, no, don't."
"Then tell me."
"Will you promise not to tell anyone?"
"Of course. Just tell me what has happened."
"I felt something under my armpit."
"Yes. And you know that I already had…"
"Yes, but how can you be sure? It might be something else. It might be…"
"No, I'm sure it's back."
"Let me come and take you to the doctor. I'm sure it's nothing and you shouldn't be alone."
"One of my friends is here. She's going to take me. Only please, don't tell anyone. I can't let my daughter find out."
"I promise, I won't tell a soul."
"I better go. I'll talk to you later."
"I'll call you tomorrow."
"They're doing tests."
"How did all these people find out? I thought no one was supposed to know."
"Well I called someone to get the name of a specialist and you know how it goes."
"When will you get the test results back?"
"I'm sure everything is going to be fine. I better go and make room for all the people waiting to see you."
"Okay, thanks for coming."
"Oh, I think I have the wrong number."
"No, no. I am a friend of hers. They operated on her this morning. It was malignant."
"Oh no. Is she okay?"
"She's resting. I'll tell her you called."
"Thanks. I'll call in a few days."
"Have you heard about…"
"Yes, poor thing."
"We were just at the reception for Persian Gardens and she was so healthy, so vibrant."
"I know. How'd you hear?"
"One of her close friends is a friend."
"Well, I hope it all goes well."
"I'm going to go visit her, may be we can go together."
"I'll let you know."
"You look great. Really, you do."
"I have some pain on the left side but it'll go away. Then I'll start on the chemo."
"For how long?"
"Yes. Remember charshanbeh souri at my house last year? We had such a good time. Oh, why didn't I go for physicals? If only I had checked sooner."
"Don't stress over what you could have done. By next charshanbeh souri, you'll be up and about. You'll see."
"You really think so?"
"Yes, I have a really good feeling about it."
"Thanks, that means a lot. And we can go to Esfahan again and go see old homes. Maybe my daughter will be here by then."
"I'd love that. I promise you, come Noruz you'll have forgotten about this whole thing."
Illustration by Hamed Safai