An excerpt from “Find Me” by Laura van den Berg:
In Norway, there are half a million lakes. In Norway, the cheese is brown. In Norway, the paper clip was invented. These are the things Dr. Bek has told us.
Me, I know nothing of Norway. I used to live in Somerville, Massachusetts, on a narrow street with no trees.
Dr. Bek types at his desk. Manila files are stacked next to his computer. I look at the folders and try to imagine what’s inside: our case histories, the results of our blood work, all the ways he is trying to find a cure. Dr. Bek is fair and tall, his posture stooped inside his silver hazmat suit, as though he’s forever ducking under a low doorway. Behind the shield, his eyes are a cool blue, his cheekbones high and sharp. When he’s angry, his face looks like it has been chiseled from a fine grade of stone.
The Hospital staff guards against the sickness with Level A hazmat suits, chemical-resistant boots and gloves, showers, and an eye wash station before entering their quarters on the second floor. They need these precautions because they aren’t special, like the patients are thought to be. When we came to the Hospital, our possessions were locked away in basement storage. “Why does our stuff have to stay in the basement?” some patients demanded to know, and Dr. Bek explained it was all part of releasing the outside world for a time, of releasing a life that no longer belonged to us.