Photo Credit: Korean War Veteran-georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2006/07/

Going to the doctor is never my idea of fun, but I go. I sit in the crowded reception room with other bodies ravaged by war. But who remembers my war? The Korean War is a short paragraph in my granddaughter’s history book. My teenage granddaughter shrugs when I ask her, “Where is Korea?” On a map spread beneath glass she points an uncertain finger at the Asian continent as though that were a sufficient answer.  “Have you been there Granddad?” she asks. I consider her innocence before answering.

In the waiting room I flip through outdated magazines or yesterday’s newspapers. A television high on the wall babbles. I wait my turn. I am weighed. A nurse, overly cheery, takes my blood pressure. I watch the mercury pulse on the gauge catching the beat of my heart. The sound of my blood surges in my ears; the reading is too high. The nurse ushers me into an office with a view of gray windows. The buildings are only inches apart, and through four panes of glass I see shapes of darkness.

The doc is new, a young man freshly minted from medical school with a tight look about him. Shadows fill the hollows of his eyes and cheeks, a new father battling sleepless nights ignorant that the war has just begun. I spot a small, framed photograph on his desk. A young, beautiful wife holding a brand new baby. I smile and ask, “How’s it going young man?” He shakes his head and shuffles the pages of my chart.

Words betray him the way my body betrays me, and the diagnosis tumbles out of his mouth indelicate, and I wonder if he speaks to his wife with these cool words. “I assure you Mr. Fredrickson, cancer is no longer a death sentence.” His reassurance is hardly reassuring. The diagnosis, the elephant in the room, trumpets otherwise, and we talk gingerly around the topic. Our visit ends. New appointments for scans and surgeons begins.


The Trifecta Challenge–Your response must be between 33 and 333 words. New 3: having been in a relationship or condition but a short time <new to the job> <a new wife>


11 thoughts on “Waiting

    1. Totally what I thought. 🙂

      My parents are starting to experience a little of this age differential. One of my mothers primary doctors was one of my buddies from guitar camp.

      Yes, I said guitar camp. Don’t judge!

  1. Nicely done — I like the way you show how little details all register while you’re waiting to hear about something like that.

  2. Your descriptions are so good, I feel like I’m in the room with them. Hope the doc learns a bit about graceful delivery of bad news as he settles into his job 🙂

  3. There is so much that is great about this. The description and detail are excellent. Phrases I especially liked –“the diagnosis tumbles out of his mouth indelicate, and I wonder if he speaks to his wife with these cool words” and “the elephant in the room trumpets otherwise”. Very well written.

  4. Very well done, this is a great topic to bring up. We know North and South now, but not the struggle to keep it as it was. I still see a lot of elderly men with hats that remind us that those veterans are still around too.

  5. Wow! I enjoyed reading your story. Your descriptions and attention to details drew me immediately into the picture!

  6. ‘Words betray him the way my body betrays me, and the diagnosis tumbles out of his mouth indelicate, and I wonder if he speaks to his wife with these cool words.’ That sentence is perfection. I love the way you tightly form the framework of the story and leave space for the reader’s mind to fill in the rest. Your descriptors are not forced or over the top. There is exactly as much as needs to be said. Well done.
    Thanks for playing with us again. Please come back for the new challenge tomorrow.

  7. Yes – I agree with the editors “the diagnosis tumbles out of his mouth indelicate” is the best sentence. I fear that the doctor has failed to account for the characters years and experience, his innocence the death sentence even if cancer is not.

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