What it Means to be a Doctor is to Love
Rearranging the flyers on her desk. Thinking about all those mad syllables. Pantroplillipan. Foroxiplotl. Sometimes she read one backwards, just for fun. Nothing really happened, except that she did have fun.
She put the flyers in her flyer box, which she would empty in a month’s time unless some patient asked her about one of the drugs, in which case she would open the box and get it out and read it in front of them and then say, “Hmm,” and then either “Yes” or “No.” In her younger days she would have momentarily left the room to read the flyer, to maintain patient confidence. Now she was past that. She had achievements and massive failures both under her belt. But she still got paid every two weeks and the ever-aging never-changing herd trampled on her for six hours a day every day.
Plus, reading was a talent in its own right and not to be underestimated. Sometimes a blob in a grey big rib duffel coat would audibly giggle when she started reciting the magical powers and diabolical curses inscribed on the trifold.
The ultimate side effect.
Any time she read that side-effect she made sure she looked up to see the unique way each simple face would take it. Most often they looked behind them with a darting look.
Well, anyway. Flyers in the box.
Then two minutes before the next appointment.
She walked to the window and looked out. Today she chose the sky over the concrete wall or the forty foot drop. It was the brighter of the three today. She knew the air between her and the blue shell of the sky was awfully polluted and she had seen what came out of the lungs of living and dead people she encountered in a professional capacity. She lived out of town, where there were green bushes and foxes and people sometimes walked for pleasure. But she breathed this muck all day every day.
And yet there were those who say she had never been punished! That she had got away with murder.
The cowardly thing to have done would have been to run like Dr Pigz did. Or not even a run. She disappeared. No photos, no press.
But she, Dr. Dean, had stayed. She had only been passing through. But now eighteen years had passed. She was forty-two years of age. Her face had grown long, her ribs still were prominent when undressed but her belly sagged. She had the sad beauty of a woman at the feet of Jesus in a painting. She had the sad beauty of a lute’s plaintive cry. She had the sad beauty of a person who has lost their shoes and is dealing with it alone.
Sometimes she met a man or a woman who had been one of the children that she and Dr Pigz had considered back in those days. She touched them with great fear.
Her ex-husband would always ask her one thing when he got drunk [every second Tuesday during the first part of their marriage but more randomly as the end came in to land.]
He would ask her, “Why the hell did you stay here in a town you destroyed?”
And she would answer each time, “Because I don’t know if I did.”
Time was up. Two minutes more had been added to the pile of minutes devoted to this dilemma.