Home, Safe?

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 side. 

The boy winced. 
“I’m sorry,” she said.  “It hurts?”

“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 serious!”

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.”  She smiled. 

“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?”

“What?”

“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?”

“What?”

“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.  “I know.”


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:

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Home, Safe?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Home, Safe?

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 side. 

The boy winced. 
“I’m sorry,” she said.  “It hurts?”

“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 serious!”

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.”  She smiled. 

“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?”

“What?”

“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?”

“What?”

“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.  “I know.”


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:

46 Comments:

At March 11, 2012 at 8:12 PM , Anonymous Jessie Powell said...

That's so powerful. The boy is so matter of fact, too. "I wish my father would stop hurting me". That father is sure to report her for her 'that is nothing'. I just hope her report of abuse gets more attention than his does.

 
At March 12, 2012 at 3:42 AM , Anonymous N'n. said...

Extremely well written. I have not read Patricia Coldwell's Cause of Death, but this in itself was great. I liked the ending, though it was sad "I know." You don't want adults just saying "I know".

 
At March 12, 2012 at 4:20 AM , Anonymous Ckbryl said...

Wow, very powerful and a wonderful message.

 
At March 12, 2012 at 4:23 AM , Anonymous Megan Taylor said...

Beautiful work! I love your writing, and am excited to check out the rest of your blog.

 
At March 12, 2012 at 10:10 AM , Anonymous Coming East said...

This sounded so real, Kelly. Well done. I like this doctor. Hope we see more of her.

 
At March 12, 2012 at 11:59 AM , Anonymous JAUM said...

I like.. Such a natural flow of dialog, such a smooth finish.. the relationship between the boy and the Dr.

 
At March 12, 2012 at 2:08 PM , Anonymous billy_flynn said...

There's just too many parts here that I liked to start listing; you so perfectly put us in her shoes, I was emotionally engaged right through, which I think is what we're all striving for. That was an excellent response!

 
At March 12, 2012 at 3:29 PM , Anonymous Elizabeth Young said...

Beautiful, poignant write. I am anxious to know what happens next though as the young Doctor has the father jailed for child abuse!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 4:26 AM , Anonymous Alison@Mama Wants This said...

A really engaging story - would love to read more!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 4:29 AM , Anonymous Emily said...

Wow! That was an incredible beginning! The characters seemed so real, so complete in and of themselves, that I immediately began to care about them. I want to know what happens!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 5:36 AM , Anonymous Heidi said...

Wow! Powerful and moving. I want to read more! Well done.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 5:54 AM , Anonymous Tara_pohlkottepress said...

what a wonderful writing prompt...and fantastic results. Love this!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 7:54 AM , Anonymous Kim Pugliano said...

Fantastic! I love your stories.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:16 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thank you, Kim.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:18 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thank you for reading. A bit depressing, though.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:18 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Heidi.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:19 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Emily. I'm wondering what happens with them as well.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:19 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Alison.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:19 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

I'm afraid the doctor doesn't feel powerful enough. We'll have to see...

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:20 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading, Billy. I'm glad you liked it.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:20 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:20 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Maybe she'll come back later...

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:20 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thank you Megan.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:21 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:21 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

I don't think I've read it either. No, you don't want her saying I know. She's as lost as he is.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 9:21 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading, Jessie!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 10:20 AM , Anonymous Delilah Love said...

Wow that was great. You really drew me in with the very first line! Great job.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 10:28 AM , Anonymous Beej said...

What an unexpected story to come out of that prompt. Kudos!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 11:11 AM , Anonymous Lifetimetravels said...

That was a great read, you had me captivated the entire time.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 11:14 AM , Anonymous momma23monkeys said...

Fantastic story! I am left hanging and desperately want to know what happens next...how does it end?

 
At March 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM , Anonymous Jamie Walker said...

Stories of pain are so hard to read but impossible to skip over. I really felt for the doctor and then the boy. :*(

 
At March 13, 2012 at 12:30 PM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading, Jamie!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

I don't know! i'll have to think about it.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

Thank you!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 12:32 PM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 12:35 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading, Jamie!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 12:36 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading!

 
At March 13, 2012 at 12:44 PM , Anonymous Judithhb said...

I have just found you but I shall return to read more.
Stories of pain are so hard to read as Jamie says but we do come back to see how things turn out, Thanks for this.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 12:59 PM , Anonymous Tara R. said...

More wonderful story telling. Your characters are believable and relatable. Nicely done.

 
At March 13, 2012 at 3:21 PM , Anonymous jlweinberg said...

Your characters really drew me in. What happens next? I hope you'll continue to write this story.

This line is so evocative: "...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."

 
At March 14, 2012 at 4:29 AM , Anonymous SisterhoodOfTheSensibleMoms said...

An intriguing story. You have left me with the itch to know what happened. Ellen

 
At March 14, 2012 at 3:19 PM , Anonymous Stephanie Brennan said...

Nice. I like the, learn to speak "American." I like the bond established between the doctor and the boy. I wonder what happens next.... I'm in...

 
At March 14, 2012 at 7:24 PM , Anonymous katieross83 said...

This was great, Kelly, I loved the common ground that the doctor and the boy found. Such sad common ground though. I loved the "Home is supposed to be safe" line...how heartbreaking.

 
At March 14, 2012 at 7:29 PM , Anonymous kdwald said...

I actually sympathize with the father's anger (until the obvious divide!) and don't think the doctor was appropriate at all. On the other hand, I also sympathize with the doctor's need to hold in her anger and fumble for words - because I've been there! Oh you have me so conflicted! Which means you did a great job. :)

 
At March 15, 2012 at 8:37 AM , Anonymous SAM said...

I read this last night, late, but wanted to reread it again today and its even better the second time around. I love how you split the lines up throughout the story. I do hope you will do more with this. Your characters are very believable and the horror at her comments was felt. Great writing here, Kelly, as always.

 

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