“The doctor will see you now.”
Will she? I doubt it.
She will see my case history, my test results and my short and painful future but she
will not see me. I no longer permit myself to be seen.
“Mr. Finn, please take a seat.”
She waits for me to ask but I’ve already seen the answer in her eyes. To her credit,
she does not look away and she does not smile.
“No surprises then?” I say, as if we were discussing this week’s football results.
“No. The latest tests confirm the earlier prognosis.”
I know I should be asking questions: is she sure the results are accurate? Is there
anything else that can be done? How long do I have left?
I stay silent. I am not being petulant. I’m not in denial. I researched these questions
weeks ago. Now the data is in and there is nothing left to ask.
“Would you like to discuss your palliative care options?”
Palliative from the Latin palliare, to cloak. I image the opiates in my blood-stream
folding themselves around my consciousness like a cloak against the wind, keeping
the pain away, offering me sleep as a benign segue into no longer needing to wake.
“Thank you, Doctor.” I force a smile. “I’m familiar with the drill.”
“Of course, your wife…” she stops herself a moment too late.
“Yes. The MacMillan nurse was such a comfort to her. I have their contact
Perhaps relieved not to have a tearful patient on her hands, the Doctor does not
spot the omission in my statement. I have made no promises. Except, of course, to
“Good bye, Doctor. Thank you for everything that you’ve done.”
“Good bye, Mr. Finn.”
I wonder then, when she takes me hand in her firm grip for the last time, if she has
after all, spotted my omission and perceived my intent.
She nods at me and releases my hand. To my surprise, it seems that the doctor did
see me after all.
Not a bad start to what will probably turn out to be a sad story.
I was about to have one of those “Where on earth do these ideas come from?” conversation with myself when I realised two things: the first was that I’d used my own name for the main character. This hadn’t been a conscious choice, so what kind of choice was it and why had I made it? The second thing I realised was that the idea hadn’t come out of nowhere, it had, indirectly, come from a poem by Remittance Girl that I read a couple of days ago.
Take a look at “Nevermore” and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll also see what good poem it is.
Often I can only see the source of my stories in the rear-view mirror like this.
Anyway, I’ve put the story into my WIP file. Let’s see what develops.
The story turned out to be “Last Light”. The first part is now in the Mainstream Fiction section here