Eduardo Halfon’s History with Needles

Eduardo Halfon's History with Needles, on how he became a writer, is featured in the New York Review of Books.

“All his patients called him El Gato. Even my mother called him that. His clinic was on the top floor of Herrera Llerandi Hospital, in Guatemala City—the same hospital where I’d been born. I instantly liked his kind face and his peaceful demeanor and his sparkling blue, catlike eyes. I was six years old. I had no reason to distrust doctors. Not yet.

As my mother and I walked into the examining room of his clinic, he ruffled my hair jokingly and told me to please sit on the red vinyl chair. He was dressed in full scrubs, as if coming straight from surgery or as if about to go downstairs to perform one. He sat next to me on a metal stool and cranked a manual lever on the side of the red vinyl chair until I was staring straight up at a warm yellow light that felt good on my face. I closed my eyes and just lay quietly while my mother explained to him in detail my chronic nasal allergies. Yes, every day. In the morning, still in bed, as soon as he’s up. Sniffling and sneezing and runny nose and watery eyes. Sometimes it can last until evening, when he goes to sleep. My mother took a deep breath and then, as for some sort of grand finale, started to rattle off the long list of medications already prescribed, taken by me to no avail, and discarded. The handsome doctor just nodded in silence, one hand on his chin, until she was done. He finally turned his attention to me.”

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