The doctor lifted the sheet and peered at the injury on the boy’s
leg. It appeared to be a bullet wound,
deeply infected, oozing yellow and green.
But, still. I could’ve been
worse. He would mend. “Looks like you’ve had some luck.” Carefully, she turned the leg to the
“I’m sorry,” she said.
The boy winced.
“Of course it hurts, Doctor.” The father frowned at her, as if she were
responsible for the boy’s condition.
She nodded. Was the
bullet still lodged inside? And why had
the parents taken so long to get the boy to the hospital? “Although I’m not sure what I see.”
“You see a severely damaged leg.”
This part of medicine, she hated: The anger. She could heal the physically wounded, but
she couldn’t diffuse the anger that was sometimes directed at her. Maybe it was stress and frustration. Perhaps it was her accent or her skin
coloring. Maybe it was the economy, she
didn’t know. Anger stressed her,
though. She felt more pressure. She was more liable to make mistakes. She tucked the sheet back into place and
looked at the boy’s parents. “And I
might be too early.”
The father jumped to his feet, arms clenched at his
side. “Too early? We’ve been here for
two hours waiting to be seen by a doctor and now you tell me you’re too early?”
Eighteen years in this country. She prided herself on her English. But every so often, it failed her. What was the word she’d wanted? Not early. No…She searched her memory banks. Hasty. That was it.
She smiled. “Sometimes my words
mix themselves up in my mind. I’m
sorry. What I meant was…”
“You know something, Doctor?”
The father got close to her now—closer than what was acceptable in either
of their cultures. “You want to practice
medicine in the United States, you’d better start speaking American.”
“Hank.” The mother
stood and put a hand on her husband’s arm.
“Calm down.” She looked at the
doctor. “I apologize for my
husband. He’s just worried.”
The doctor asked the nurse to start the boy on a course of intravenous
antibiotics. She checked his eyes. Prodded his skin. Still…The doctor looked at the boy’s
mother. ”Your son will be fine.”
“How can you tell? You’ve
barely even looked at him.” The father
again, neck veins throbbing. “This is
The doctor turned to the boy’s father. “Sir, when my brother’s legs were blown off
by a bomb and I had to stitch him back together, while my mother held him down
against the pain, that was serious. When
my husband was murdered before my very eyes, that was serious. This…” She gestured to the boy. “This is nothing.”
After, she stitched up the boy’s leg. The pull of thread through skin reminded her
of the way her mother used to lace up a stuffed chicken before tucking it into
the oven. She felt the tears well up in
her eyes. Blinked them back.
The boy was watching her.
“Why are you crying?”
“I miss my mother.”
“Did she die?”
She shrugged. “I don’t
know. I had to leave my country very
suddenly. I left everything behind.”
The boy blinked. “I’m
sorry,” he whispered.
She patted his leg—the good leg. “You know what I wish?”
“I wish I could stitch up a fractured country as easily as I
did your leg.” She pulled the thread
through and knotted it.
“You know what I wish?”
“I wish my father would stop hurting me.”
She nodded. "I wish that, too."
She wished her
husband were still alive. She wished to
see her mother and her brother again.
Most of all, she wished she could go home.
“Home is supposed to be safe,” the boy said.
Again, the doctor nodded.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, SAM challenged me with "Write a story based on this line from Patricia Coldwell's Cause of Death: "Looks like you've had some luck," I said. "Although I'm not sure what I'm seeing. And I might be too early." " and I challenged Kirsten Doyle with "Write a story from the perspective of someone just entering or just about to leave earth (or life)."
This has also been linked up with this week's Yeah, Write Challenge.
Labels: Fiction Indie Ink