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.
“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.
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.”
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…”
“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.”
“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.
“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.”
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.
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.