The machine stared, a huge, round eyeball twice as tall as me, with an empty opening at the center. It thrummed and thumped a slow rhythm, like an alien heartbeat.
I shuddered in my pajamas, even though the dimly-lit room was warm. “Hop up here on the bed,” the nurse said. The bed was on a long ramp that led right into the middle of the eyeball. I climbed up onto it really slow. It was like sitting on something’s tongue.
The nurse put a blue thing like a paper showercap over my hair. “It gets really noisy so you’ll need to wear earplugs,” the nurse rolled the little bright blue pieces of foam in her fingers until they were tiny worms. “Put these in your ears, and then this headset goes on top.”
It gets noisy?
Once my ears were all plugged and covered, the nurse said, “Okay, now lie down,” like it was no big deal.
I shook my head. No way was I going to lie down so she could roll me into that super noisy giant eyeball machine.
“Come on, you can do it,” she smiled. She was young, and pretty, with blond-brown streaked hair and pink lipstick. Her eyes matched the soft green scrubs she wore. She looked so nice. How could she do this to me?
I shook my head again.
“Go get Mom,” the nurse said to the girl in the door way, the thin one in black who had brought me from the waiting room where I’d left Mom.
I sat hunched on the bed and waited. All around the room there were shelves with pieces of foam in different shapes and colors. A shiny metal sink, a soap dispenser. Pillows. Strange plastic shapes.
“Hi,” Mom said, when she came in. “Everything okay?”
“Mom’s going to be right next to you the whole time,” the Nurse said. “This is really the easiest test you can get. There are no needles, you don’t have to drink anything. All you have to do is lie there for twenty minutes.”
Twenty minutes? I can’t possibly lie still that long inside a noisy eyeball machine.
“Mom, do you have my Minecraft guys?” I asked.
“No, I left them in the lobby. I’ll be right back.”
When Mom came back she had the paper models I’d printed, cut out, and glued together, my Link, my pig, my ocelot, my tiny sword.
“Do you want to hold one of them?” The nurse asked. “You can hold it in your hand during the test, though you can’t hold it up and look at it.”
“Can I have Link?” I asked.
Mom handed him to me and I curled my fingers gently around the delicate little paper boxes that made up his body. I forced myself to lie down on the bed and the nurse adjusted a small mirror over my head so that I could see my Mom. She waved to me from the end of the ramp, grinning like this was the most fun she’d ever had.
“I’m jealous, you know,” Mom said, admiring the machine. “I’ve always wanted to get an MRI”
Mom was crazy.
The nurse tucked a piece of foam at either side of my head and reminded me to hold still so she could get a good picture of my brain. Then she gave me a button on a long wire that I could push if I got nervous and wanted to stop the test.
I wondered how long I’d last.
The nurse pushed a button on the machine and I started to roll. I rolled until my head was in the middle of that great big eyeball.
I waited, stiff, cupping my Minecraft guy in one hand and clutching my escape button in the other.
“Ready to go?” The nurse’s voice came over the headset.
“Ready,” I said back in my tiniest voice.
The machine thumped. It whined. It chugged. Whoom, whoom, whoom, just like a space ship in a movie.
The machine sounded hilarious.
I had to try hard not to laugh. I didn’t want the picture of my brain to get blurry.
Mom and I grinned at each other.
Yeah, I could do this for twenty minutes. It wasn’t so bad.