The woman put her hand into the small white box and held it still.
She and her husband held their breath.
The machine hummed as its inner probe moved around her fingers.
With her free hand she wiped her husband’s sweat from her chest.
“How’s your brother?” he offered.
Pain registered momentarily on the woman’s face as the machine bit into her skin.
“He’s gonna be fine,” she answered. “Just a tumor.”
“We’re so lucky.”
“We are loved.”
The woman’s eyes went wide and she repeated, “We are loved.”
“Does it hurt too much?” asked the man.
“No,” she said. “Not too much.”
“They just want to make sure we’re healthy, that’s all.”
“They’re taking care of us. We are loved. Imagine a time when that wasn’t the case.”
A small noise issued from the machine like glass being finely ground.
“Imagine a time when people died of diseases because there was no cure, or people couldn’t afford it.”
The woman took in two sharp gasps and she removed her hand, the wound healed.
“It’s unimaginable!” she said as she moved to her husband’s side.
“Millions of people suffering… Dying… Every day.”
“Oh please darling don’t talk about it! It’s too horribly sad.”
The man’s eyes were riveted to the machine.
“I’m sorry honey,” he said. “I’m just so glad that we’re alive now and not back then.”
The woman was also watching the clean white box as it buzzed and clicked, then lit a small red “x.”
She and her husband laughed and hugged each other.
A red pill rolled out from a slot in the machine, making its way across the polished plastic countertop.
The man and the woman were silent.
A second red “x” was silently flashing in tandem with the first.
“We’ll try again,” said the husband.
A tear spilled from the woman’s eye. She reached forward and picked up the pill.
“We’ll try again,” she echoed.
She put the capsule in her dry mouth and forced it down with a shudder.
“We are loved,” her husband whispered, putting his arms around her.
The woman frowned.
“We are loved.”