The mood in the office became tense and dignified. It was so quiet I could hear my wristwatch ticking. I picked up my cup and took a sip of water. “I’m afraid I have very bad news,” Dr. Su said with a sigh. She leaned back and closed her eyes. “You have the incurable disease.”

I looked at her blankly. “I don’t quite follow, Dr. Su.”

She adjusted her glasses and looked at me for a moment. “You have tear cancer.” She saw my confusion and tried to explain. “You can only cry three times in your rest of life.”

“Puff!” the water squirted from my throat. “Ha ha, ho ho,” I chortled and brought tears to my eyes. “Dr Su, I like your sense of humor. I have never heard of tear cancer.”

Dr. Su looked at me silently. She knocked a few times on the keyboard and turned the computer to me. She opened an English website. The page was full of a lot of obscure professional medical terms, and I probably could only recognize several simple words, such as “cancer,” “cry” and “eye lens.”

The website she showed me was not helpful at all. But I kept from smiling and began to consider the gravity of my illness. I hoped the doctor played down the serious nature of my illness, but when I saw the heavy expression on her face, I realized she was serious. To be honest, I could not remember why I went to the hospital. When I left the hospital building with the diagnosis, I did not know what tear cancer was like. I did not feel scared; I only thought about posting my diagnosis on social platforms and writing, “I got cancer that no one else has had before. Am I freaking awesome?”

When I went back home and opened the door, I saw a pile of onions scattered on the floor. The smell of spice greeted me. Alice, my rather fluffed-up ten-pound Persian cat, squatted, motionless, in the middle of the living room. I called her and she turned to look at me. I saw that big face streaming wet with tears. Soon, my eyes watered when I also smelled the onions. Alice became blurred as tears filled my eyes. At this time, I received a phone call from Dr. Su and I clicked the answering key.

“Are you crying? The data on the device has changed. How could you be so careless? Now your vital signs indicate that you have only two chances to cry.”

“Ah! I’m not the one who is doing this. It is all the onions’ fault.”

Dr. Su interrupted me before I had time to explain more. “You must pay attention to your illness. Don’t waste the rest of your opportunities.”

After I hung up the phone, it took me a few seconds to understand she was not joking. Dr. Su’s words successfully scared me, and I started to believe I really had tear cancer.

Well, since I was sick, I should pay attention to my cancer. At least, I should complain about it to someone. I asked my best friend to come over to have dinner. After she got good and comfortable, she lay on the couch watching TV. I sat next to her and looked straight at her. “Anna” I said. “I must tell you something.”

“What happened?” She stared at the TV and replied with a casual air.

“I have tear cancer.” I thought she would probably burst into a high-pitched laugh and scold me for my neuropathy. However, she popped up to a sitting position and her eyes were full of tears at this moment. She held my hands, her dark eyes wide with pity and concern.

“You will be fine.” She turned off the TV. “Although tear cancer is incurable, few people die, as long as they control their tear gland. My uncle also got this disease, but he is still alive. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter…” Anna kept repeating, “It doesn’t matter.” I was not sure whether she wanted to comfort me or convince herself.

I have never seen her so nervous. I began to feel worried. I was scared and wanted to cry, but I stopped myself immediately. I could not waste the chance to drop tears. Why did the whole world know about this cancer but me? I was furious at my ignorance. My cat looked at me, and I imagined my tired, pale face in her eyes.

The next day, when I woke up, my mood could not have been more grim. I was unwashed, uncombed, with my clothes half-buttoned. On my way to work, I did not pay much attention to the road, and then I stumbled and fell, scraping my palms and knees. Someone helped me up to my feet by holding my arms. When I raised my head, I found my ex-boyfriend, Li, standing on the street corner. His new girlfriend was spooning ice cream from a cup and feeding it to Li. I wanted to leave as soon as possible so they would not notice me.

“Sarah! Hi.” I heard Li’s voice. “How have you been? Sarah and I are engaged.” I touched my injured knee and could not squeeze a smile.

Sarah’s shoulders were graced with mink and her finger sparkled with diamonds. “Sorry we did not invite you to our engagement ceremony,” she said rather ironically.

I felt heart-stricken and stared at them speechless. Li’s handsome face carried me back to the days of falling love with him. Later the relationship ended badly when I found out he was cheating. After they left, I failed to control my emotions and could not help tearing up. At this time, I received a phone call from Dr. Su. I didn’t wait for her to speak. My voice trembled, on the verge of tears. “One tear left, “she said.

Xueyi Zhang is a freshman majoring in Graphic Design at the School of Visual Arts who hails from Mumbia, India. “I am a passionate lover of street food, information graphics, and design. New York City is strikingly similar to Mumbai, which makes it easier to feel at home when starting a new life!”