Viola opens the cabin door and stands
in the doorframe, listening to the water drip from the icicles.
"You knew this day would come."
Viola's grandson joins her at the door.
"Flowers will be here soon"
"Why bother?" Charles says.
Viola turns to her grandson. "If I
don't bother who will?" She forces herself to unclench her
fists. "This is my life Charles."
She returns her gaze outside,
anticipating the arrival of the spring flowers that she will use to
prepare her tinctures and salves. Her healing balms.
"He's a portly man, sure enough,"
Charles remarks and Viola laughs, despite her promise to herself. She
watches the way he picks his way up the trail, lifting his legs up
high and examining the path before he set a foot down again.
"Man isn't accustomed to walking
among briars and scat."
"Why is he here, then?"
Viola shakes her head. "I have no
idea, Charles. Perhaps he believes he's doing some good."
She turns to her grandson. "Some
people have the idea that we're backwards up here; that we need
something because they have it. Telephone. Computers. Gym
memberships. They don't understand that this is the life we've
The man walks into Viola's snow-covered
garden, boots slipping, arms flapping at the chickens.
Viola smiles. "Put on some coffee
for the man, Charles. He's liable to need revitalization."
"He does look winded, doesn't he?"
Charles chuckles and shakes his head.
The man reaches the cabin, grasps onto
the doorframe for support. "You Viola Lewston?"
"Doctor Smythe," she says.
"You're messing with my patients."
Viola smiles, leans against the door.
"Seems to me you're messing with mine, Doctor. I bin tending
these people for fifty years, more or less. I probably delivered more
babies than you'll ever see brought into this world."
The doctor removes a handkerchief from
his back pocket, mops his brow. "I am an educated man."
"I'm as educated as you."
"I don't see how that's possible,"
he scoffs. "Word is you haven't set foot off this mountain in
"That's the truth. I take my
education here." She gestures to the land surrounding them. "I
study the trees and the flowers. The..."
"Nature doesn't amount to much
when you've got a sick patient."
"My patients don't get sick. I
keep them healthy." She leans in, studies his skin. His face is
ruddy, his nostrils are flared. "You could use a bit of my
"Who do you think you are?"
The doctor demands.
She smiles and draws herself up tall.
"You asking who I am?"
"I'm asking who you think you are?
Who you believe yourself to be?"
Viola nods. "For many people,
doctor, who I am and who I believe myself to be would be
diametrically opposed ideas." She enjoyed the look of
astonishment that spread across the doctor's face. "Yes, I do
know a bit of vocabulary other than ain't and ya'all."
Charles appears at the door, bearing a
"Would you care for a hot drink?"
The doctor frowns, and Viola can tell
he's working his mouth up and around the word no.
"That would be kind," he says
finally. He accepts the mug and cups his hands around it.
"Many people, perhaps yourself
included, want to believe in the person they project to the world,"
Viola says, watching the doctor sip his coffee." They hide their
flaws and their fears behind masks of confidence."
"Everyone does that."
"I learned long ago that the
person I project to the world and the person I am are one and the
same. I don't hide behind some persona or who I think I ought to be."
"That's impossible," the
doctor sneered. "Who are you, then?"
"I am a healer," Viola says.
"I am also a murderer. That's tainted coffee ya'all are
Viola watches the color drain from the
doctor's face. "You've poisoned me?"
"I got to protect my business,"
The doctor drops his mug in the snow
and fumbles in his pockets.
"Ain't no cell service in
these-here mountains," Viola says. She laughs as the doctor
turns and makes his way back down the mountain, not taking care, this
time, to watch his step.
"I am a healer," she says,
watching his retreat. "I am also a liar. And sometimes,"
she adds, remembering her promise to be kind to the doctor,
"...sometimes I am unkind."
"Flowers will be here soon,"
She nods. "I'll take some of that
coffee, now." And she watches the coffee stain spread across the
Kelly Garriott Waite on Google+
This was written in a response to a prompt from Ariana Browning at The Blogging Lounge.
Labels: flash fiction, The Blogging Lounge