The Worth of One or Many

“…All I’m saying is, the guy has the literal cure for cancer in his body and he’s decided he won’t share with the rest of the world.”

“Brain cancer, Jim.  He has the cure for one cancer.  And it’s one that we’re making a lot of progress in obtaining without whatever unique ability his brain has.  We’re not even sure if we could harness that trait. If you remember, the attempts at synthesizing crocodiles’ unique cell defenses failed, even though we truly thought we had that.”

“Exactly my point.  We’ve made progress, Clara, progress.  Nothing more. We don’t know when we might independently find a cure.  But we have the cure right here! Something that could lead to even more discoveries.  Why should we put his life over the lives of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands that would die before we finally crack this puzzle?  What would you have him do, Clara? If it was your loved one with this terrible disease?”

“Are you seriously suggesting that this young man kill himself, Jim?”

“Maybe I am, Clara.  Maybe I am.”

Alex watched the screen as the two went back and forth, arguing the point until it was so into the minutiae that the announcer had to ask for the speakers to move on.  Clara was smarter, thought Alex, perhaps a little biased, But Jim was appealing to emotion.  The audience watching at home will side with him.

“…one of his doctors even said so!  The tests aren’t working and they need total access to his brain in order to figure out this cure.”

“You’re referring to the doctor who got drunk and broke patient confidentiality, endangering his patient because of it and losing his license in the process?  I doubt someone with that low of morality should be taken as an expert on ethics. He wasn’t even the head doctor on the project, Jim. An assistant, at best-”

“But an M.D., Clara, and a man who’s worked in the field for decades now.  If he says they need the whole brain, they need the whole brain.”

Alex shivered as the air conditioner next to him kicked on.  He pulled the thin sheet up tighter on him. He had gotten more susceptible to its cooling after the last few times they had taken his blood.  Between that and the annoyingly itchy patch on his head from the last surgery, it seemed like his whole body was having issues with this place.

The program finally ended after each side had their last word.  It seemed like both Jim and Clara still had plenty left to say, but the announcer had cut them both short in their statements.  The announcer tried to frame it as something to leave up to the viewer to decide, but it was obvious who they would pick. Jim smugly grinned towards Clara, seemingly happy he had an easy win on the show this week.  Alex hated watching arguments, especially when they were about him. Unfortunately, there was nothing else on.

Commercials started to play, bright and cheerful voices advertised many different things at Alex.  He slumped back into the bed, using the remote next to him to set the back of the bed a bit lower so he could relax more.  Watching the constantly flashing lights of the screen across the room from this position, his mind started to turn off as he allowed himself to zone out to droning music and voices of dozens of people attempting to sell him things he stopped caring about long ago.  It’s wasn’t until a McDonald’s commercial came on that he suddenly found himself drooling, and not from the mind-numbing of the past few commercials. It had been months since he last had fast food. He knew for a fact how disgusting it would make him feel, how bloated and uncomfortable he used to get after eating it, but all the same, he wanted it.  Anything besides the same cafeteria food over and over again.

As if to save him from his visual torture, a knock on the door interrupted his thought process.  Alex shook himself back to reality and pushed the button on the remote to sit up a bit more as his doctor walked into the room.  She smiled and made a gesture with one hand, as if to say she wouldn’t be staying that long, before putting her hand behind her back again along with her other one.

“I just wanted to check on you, Alex.  How you holding up?”

“I’m cold, Dr. Stewart.” He held up the top of the sheet, sacrificing comfort for example,  “Is there anything heavier than this I could use?”

Dr. Stewart smiled again and walked over, revealing a folded quilt she had been holding behind her.  She handed it to him and helped him place it over his feet to insulate him. “It’s been a year and a half since I said we were on a first name basis.  I thought we were friends?”

“We are, Dr. Stewart” Alex nervously shifted, “…I just don’t like getting too cosy.  I like a little bit of distance to… to remind me this is all supposed to be a temporary stay.”

Dr. Stewart frowned, “It is, kiddo.  It is. I promise you. All of the other doctors agree. As much as they’d like to continue, they won’t keep you here.  I’m making darn sure of that. We just don’t know if it’s safe to leave, yet. What with all the…” She shook her hands, “crazy going on out there.”

Alex turned and looked at his window, hastily patched up with duct tape and plastic insulation.  The sheet noisily ruffled in the wind as the sound of the city easily passed through the hole in the glass that the insulation barely covered.  Alex thought to himself that he was very happy the window was next to the foot of the bed instead of the reverse. His leg still had a harsh bruise from where the brick had landed.

Dr. Stewart saw where he had looked and shook her head as she sat down at the side of his bed.  “Maybe it’s because I spent so many years isolated in research for my field, Alex, but I honestly don’t understand people.”

He turned to look at her again and gave her a small smile, “We seem to get along just fine.”

She gave him a pat on his non-bruised leg, “You’re probably an exception to the rule.  Though, I guess my sample size of people I’ve interacted with is probably a bit too small.  Maybe once we get you out of here, I’ll have an excuse to get out myself, when I come visit.”

“Any idea on when that might be?”

“The police were able to track down one of the arsonists that hit your apartment.  And the brick guy’s rotting in jail. It may be considered a minor crime, but they made his bail pretty high just to deter anyone else.”  She looked at the TV. The program was over but the credits clued her into what he had been watching. “And that’s probably the only show on that still cares.  I guess it’s good that this is starting to become old news. Seems like the Eye of Sauron has finally shifted away from you.”

She looked back and saw him looking at her, intently, his eyes earnestly asking her to name even a week or month.  Dr. Stewart sighed.

“No specific day yet, Alex.  I’m sorry. Were it up to me, I’d hide you at my place until things calmed down but the police are in charge of when we can release you, for now.”  She frustratedly picked at the quilt. “They’re slow, Alex. Real fucking slow.  I know it’s a safety issue but…” She sighed again, continuing to grab at small bits of string that fell loose from the pattern of the quilted tiles.

Alex knew it was rare for her to curse around patients.  He had overheard in the cafeteria some of the surgeons mention under their breath how much of a sailor she was during surgery but he had only ever heard her once or twice slip up around him, and only when she was really upset.  Her bedside was impeccable.

They sat in silence for a bit, neither person really knowing how to make the other feel better.  As much as they had become more personal, Alex’s anxiety still tended to make him clam up when things got awkward.  He wished he knew what to say to her. Something…

“B-Bethany?”

She looked at him, realization hitting her suddenly.

“I-It’s okay.  Really. I can wait.”  He awkwardly raised the sides of his mouth, nervousness causing him to forget basic human interaction as his smile looked more like a grimace.

She smiled, then, reaching up to his head and ruffling his hair.  “Aw, I came in here to cheer you up.”

He smiled for real this time.  She was the closest person to him, nowadays, and he was thankful he had gotten her as his doctor.  He didn’t know what he would have done if it had been anyone else.

Alex looked up at the fan, then.  His eyes transfixed on the blades as they moved in circles above him.  The cord to the fan speed dangled above him, too high to grab from his position on the bed.  It jostled with the movement of the blades as they spun, dangling the large opal-colored bead at the end of the chain.  It swayed and twisted with the movements, sometimes slightly more thanks to the wind of the blades.

Swayed and twisted.  Swayed and twisted.

“Alex?”

Dr. Stewart was looking at him.  Concern in her face as Alex refused to respond.  She squeezed his shoulder, raising her voice this time.

“Alex!  What’s wrong?”

Alex came to, suddenly.  He looked at Dr. Stewart, his mind still filled with an idea that scared him.  Something he could never tell the doctor and had refused to tell her for some time now.

And he started to cry.

 

 


 

 

“And how have your thoughts been lately?  Last time we talked, you had mentioned thinking about something that had upset you.”

The kindly looking man shifted slightly in the small chair pulled up at the foot of Alex’s bed, its size not quite being comfortable enough for his weight.  He would never complain, though. Dr. Hernandez was too nice for that, focusing on the conversation and ignoring any discomfort the unpleasant little seat might bring him.  In these past few months of Dr. Hernandez visiting him, Alex thought that this may just be a statement the man was making. Something like, “This is about you, not me. I am the Buddha, above earthly discomforts, here to teach you.”

“Alex?”

Alex snapped out of the mental image of the doctor floating above the tiny chair and looked at Dr. Hernandez.

“I know you may be nervous to bring it up again, but I’d like to talk to you about it.  You dropped that on me at the end of our last session as I was leaving and I didn’t get a good chance to talk with you for more than a few extra minutes.  But please let me know if it’s too uncomfortable for you.”

To be honest, it was, and that was why Alex kept thinking of other things.  Dr. Hernandez had a way of guilting him into answering, though.

“A-A rope.”

“I remember you saying that.”

Alex picked at a scab on his arm as he stammered his way through.

“I-I started to think about… how it would feel, you know?  Around my neck.” Dr. Hernandez opened his mouth to speak but Alex quickly blurted out, “I-I would never do anything, Doctor.  Never. I made a promise to myself. After my sister…”

“I remember, Alex.  You don’t have to finish, it’s okay.”  Dr. Hernandez uncrossed his legs and put the notebook and recording pen down on the table next to him.  “Alex, I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my obsessive-compulsive patients. We can never predict every thought that goes on in our heads.  Sometimes, these thoughts happen and we have no control over them.”

Alex shifted in his bed.  They were already an hour in but Alex knew this was going to be a long last portion of the session.  He liked Dr. Hernandez a lot, but he dreaded his coming, recently. Each session made him feel more and more nervous about what he had been feeling lately.  He recently had been talking a lot about nothing to try and avoid the obvious questions on Dr. Hernandez’s mind, fearing what he might ask if Alex took a breath.  But this time, while Alex started strong, the thoughts and lack of sleep over them were wearing him down allowing the doctor to get a word in, edgewise.

The doctor seemed to be able to at least understand how Alex was feeling.  He leaned on his elbow with his hand holding his chin, one finger covering his lips in thought.  After a few seconds of figuring out how he wanted to say it, Dr. Hernandez spoke up.

“Alex, have you ever heard of l’appel du vide?

Alex shook his head.

“It’s a French term that means, ‘Call of the Void’.  A bit of a dark metaphor but it’s pretty apt. It describes the random thoughts people sometimes get when they look down from a high place and might feel the urge to jump or-”  He sat up in his chair and pretended to turn a steering wheel, “-when you’re driving a car and think to turn the wheel hard, veering off the side of the road and hitting a barrier.  Have you ever felt that?”

Alex nodded.  “The car one before, yeah.”

Dr. Hernandez nodded and continued.  “It’s considered a kind of suicidal ideation, but perfectly healthy people get it, as well.  Did you find yourself in a depressed mood when that thought had struck you while you were in the car?”

Alex shook his head.

“It goes to show that our brains can be strange, quirky things.  Morbid thoughts aren’t always an issue, and really, we can’t help sometimes having a stray thought or two.”  He folded his hands in front of him and leaned forward again. “It’s when we think about these things, dwell on them, especially during times when we’re depressed, that they can become a problem.”

Without consciously realizing it, Alex’s hands began fidgeting with the quilt.

“We had talked about before how depression has run in your family.  It seems, unfortunately, that everyone on your father’s side of the family has had a bout of it, at least.  Sometimes, we’re dealt an old maid or two, but I want you to know, Alex, that in no way means you have a bad hand.”

Alex was a fan of Dr. Hernandez’s quirky metaphors.  He thought the doctor may have realized this as he had been throwing them out more recently.

“Now, I know you don’t much care for relying on medicine to help you out and I completely agree with you that it helps only if we couple it with this,“  He gestured to the room, “our sessions. But it’s been a couple of months, now, and I’m not sure if just our sessions are helping as much as I was hoping they would.  If it’s alright with you, Alex, I’d like to write a prescription. Just to see if it helps.”

Alex nodded, but looked down.  It wasn’t that he was afraid of the medicine.  Alex had been in the hospital long enough and worked with enough doctors that he didn’t mind that.  It just seemed like a point of defeat that he couldn’t do this alone, without pills for help, and he was scared of having to rely on them.

Dr. Hernandez, as always, seemed more the mind reader than the credited expert.  “This isn’t a defeat, Alex. No great battle is won by just one person. They need help and support to change the tide.”

He smiled at Alex, seemingly knowing how ridiculously corny his metaphor had been.  Alex smiled back, weakly, but sincerely appreciating the attempts to help him feel better.

Dr. Hernandez checked his watch.  Alex inwardly breathed a sigh of relief.  I made it, he thought. I didn’t think it was going to end.  It was only then that Alex realized he had been tearing up the quilt Dr. Stewart had gotten him.  He stopped picking at it and just stared at the patterns; each stitch seemed to be hand-sewn but Alex wasn’t sure if Dr. Stewart had done it.  She didn’t feel to him as the type to sew but he also didn’t know much about her. He started to regret always keeping people at arm’s length. She was his closest friend, now, and he still felt nervous saying her first name.

Dr. Hernandez collected his things into his bag, threw it over his shoulder, and stood up.  He saw Alex staring off into space at the quilt. He gave him a reassuring squeeze of Alex’s extended leg and started to head for the door.  Before he opened it, though, he stopped.

“Alex?”

Alex looked up from the entrancing sewn patterns he had been following and turned to the doctor.  Dr. Hernandez took his reading glasses off and started to put them back in the case he kept in his shirt pocket.

“I’ll be honest with you.  You have been put in an unbelievable situation and I cannot even begin to imagine the pressure that’s been put upon you.  I don’t think anyone can.”

He inserted the case back into his pocket and stared at Alex.  Dr. Hernandez always tried to keep a very neutral face when they talked but right then, in that moment, immense amounts of sympathy and sadness exuded from his expression.  Alex knew the doctor wasn’t speaking to him as a patient, now. Like Clark Kent, his persona had changed, and it seemed their time as patient and doctor ended when the doctor removed his glasses.  He was speaking to him as a friend.

“I can’t possibly know how you must truly feel, Alex.  But you amaze me. You’re twenty-two years old, twenty when this all started.  Yet with the whole world staring down at you, half a year of dealing with brain cancer, a sudden miracle, and several horrible acts directed at you by others, it’s only now, two years later, that you’ve allowed it to get to you.  Anyone else would have cried much sooner. You are much stronger than you think, Alex. Remember that.”

Dr. Hernandez gave him one last look before turning the handle and leaving the room.

 

 



“I-I have already promised to donate my entire body and all of my b-brain when I pass away.  I’ve worked with doctors for two years now. I-I’ve given them everything I can except for my life, and I will continue to do so.  I’m only asking to keep that life and be able to use it.”

The video shot back to the studio as the reporter began her final comments.

“And that was the last statement Alex Senety gave before heading back into the hospital building.  The reclusive Alex read his short statement today to a crowd of hundreds who had gathered outside the hospital, but refused questions as he has before, leaving his head doctor, Dr. Bethany Stewart, to answer for him.  It seems today’s speech was done after urging from the police to make a statement in the hopes of garnering support and humanizing the poor boy. The young Alex initially refused, but after support from the staff at the hospital, he agreed, and the police set up the conference to greet reporters this afternoon.

“It’s unknown whether this small speech will have much effect on people, given its brevity on such a hotly debated and very important discussion.  Earlier this month, doctors at the hospital were able to state that Alex’s rare trait could possibly lead to other cures being found outside the realm of brain cancer.  Though, doctors are still unsure as to how or why Alex’s brain is able to fight back like this. One thing is for sure, whatever may happen, Alex won’t be leaving the public’s eye for some time…”

The TV droned on as Alex continued to watch them talk about him like he was the next Dolly the Sheep.  He had long tuned out what they were saying, though. It all blended into the background as Alex curled into a ball on his bed, zoning out to the constant mix of colors from news infographics zooming across the screen.  He barely registered that someone had knocked on the door.

Dr. Stewart walked in, but immediately froze upon hearing the TV.

“Coming up!  Another rally from the small group calling themselves ‘The Worth of Many’ was held today outside Congress, calling for broader expansion of laws around assisted suicide in light of recent events-”

The TV suddenly went blank.  Alex came to and saw that Dr. Stewart was holding the remote, shaking violently.

“I’m fucking done with this drivel.  You are a human being, Alex, with the same rights as everyone else!  Don’t you dare let anyone tell you otherwise!”

Dr. Stewart was fuming. she chucked the remote down onto the table and dropped onto the chair next to Alex’s bed, holding her head in her hands.

Alex looked at her, her hands still shaking with rage.  She refused to speak for some time, brooding and lost in her own thoughts.  After a long silence, Alex then pointed at the now blank screen.

“They didn’t even get my last name right.  Senedy, not Senety.  My hair looked terrible, too.  My only saving grace was the camera added a few pounds and I looked a healthy weight, for once.”

Dr. Stewart uncovered her face and rested her chin on two white-knuckled closed fists.  She peered at him over her hands.

“I know what you’re trying to do, and I won’t let you win this one.  I plan to stay mad all day.”

She sighed and threw her hands up in the air.

“You wouldn’t believe the bullshit they asked me during the press conference.  A life is a life.  It’s insane anyone could even infer something different.”

Alex frowned and looked to the side, “I’m sorry I left you to answer all of the questions, B-Bethany.”

Dr. Stewart sighed, “It’s fine, Alex.  I understand. I may not have an anxiety disorder like you, but I do get anxious from time to time.  I’ve had to leave the surgery room more than once when it’s hour sixteen into it. I don’t blame you, Alex.  That’s not even what has me upset.”

They sat in silence for a while.  Alex wasn’t sure what to say. Dr. Stewart only looked out the window that still had not been fixed, as if in expectation of another incident.  Alex decided to do the same. It was several minutes before Dr. Stewart finally spoke up.

“Do you know about the Hippocratic Oath?”

Alex turned to face her but Dr. Stewart was still staring out the window.  Alex nodded at her and said he did. She continued.

“It’s gotten antiquated; we’ve basically replaced it multiple times, and really, it didn’t hold any legal power, so we made a code of ethics instead.”  She sighed, “This is too much explaining – my point is, we doctors have ethics that we must follow, and the bottom line of all of that is the absolute value of life.”

She finally turned to him.

“You can argue back and forth about abortion or assisted suicide, but the bottom line is, we must value the lives of the patients we have.  Even if something were to come up, and terminal options might be more pressing, in no way should doctors ever approach without the mindset of valuing any and all life.  I know we doctors are unique in that we’re held to that standard; malpractice is no joke. It’s just…”

She sighed.

“This is what makes us human.  Unlike animals, we not only have our intelligence, we have our humanity – our ability to value life.  A dog can feel sad for you or an elephant grieve for us when we die but we have no guarantee that they think about what they’re doing or if it’s just nature for them.  As far as we know, we’re the only species that truly understands what life is and values the lives of those around us. Ethics. Without that, we’re just intelligent animals, killing without remorse.  Ethics be damned.” Dr. Stewart stared out the window again, quietly finishing her thoughts.  “I think they’ve forgotten that. Or maybe they just never thought about it.”

Alex looked down at the quilt.  It had been a while since he’d had to have his blood drawn and the quilt was too heavy to use all the time.  However, it was comforting to have, especially times like now. Alex thought about how much things worried him and how often he relied on that comfort.  He looked back to Dr. Stewart.

“I think they’re just scared, Bethany.”

She was surprised by his response.  “Scared is an interesting term to define it.  How do you figure?”

“They’re scared of what might happen if they don’t find a cure soon.  They’re scared for the possibility that while they wait, their loved ones or even they themselves could become sick and need that cure.  They’re scared of the future. Scared and wanting to feel safe that it’ll be okay. They want that comfort.”

Dr. Stewart looked at him.  She seemed to examine him for some time.  Finally, she smiled.

“You had a session with Dr. Hernandez earlier today, didn’t you?”

Alex smiled, “He’s been helping a lot.”

Dr. Stewart straightened up and stretched in her chair.

“Yeah, I figured he’d be perfect for you.  He’s gotten me through bad months several times.”

Dr. Stewart closed her eyes and took a deep breath.  When she opened them, she smiled at Alex again.

“We’re gonna be okay, Alex.  Even if the rest of the world is running around like they’re just intelligent animals.”

Alex smiled at her as well.

 

 


 

 

“Just how much did you come in with?”  Dr. Hernandez asked, as he attempted to stuff the quilt and a few other personal belongings Alex had into a small suitcase.

“Leave him be, Doctor.  The kid can bring the whole damn room if he wants.”  Dr. Stewart turned to Alex and smiled, “Though, I doubt he’ll want to keep anything that’d remind him of this prison.”

“Thanks, Bethany.” He smiled as well, “It wasn’t all bad.  I came to know you guys.”

“And don’t you forget us!” She rustled his hair, “I certainly won’t forget you.  When will the police be able to tell us where to come visit you?”

“I-I’m not sure.  Maybe in a month? It’ll probably be open to the doctors on the project earlier.  You know, for tests and stuff.”

“Well, I’m just glad they’re finally getting you out of here, even if it is for awkward reasons.”

Alex smiled a little sadly.  “I guess it’s hard to operate a business if there’s a walking safety risk staying indefinitely there.”

Dr. Hernandez unceremoniously jumped onto the suitcase and finally managed to get the unruly quilt into it, with only a small bit sticking out between the double locks on the clasp.  He breathed a sigh of relief and turned to Alex.

“Silver linings, Alex.”   Dr. Hernandez winked at him, “You get to leave.  Eventually, things should return to normal. Plus, no more cafeteria food.  On that part, I’m jealous.”

Dr. Hernandez picked up the suitcase, walked over to Alex.  He put a hand on his shoulder, thought for a moment, and decided to instead hug him.

“It’s been wonderful being your psychiatrist for this short while, Alex.  I hope you get the chance to visit me again to check up sometime. But, given I’m stuck here, let’s hope it’s not anytime soon.”  He smiled and then held up the suitcase. “Now, if you excuse me, I’ll drop this off with the officers and head back to my office.  Never be afraid to call, Alex!”

Alex and Dr. Stewart waved goodbye to him as he headed out the door, shutting it behind him.  Dr. Stewart turned back to Alex.

“Well?  What’re we waiting for?  Let’s get you out of here!”

Dr. Stewart turned next to her and started to unfold a wheelchair that had been propped up against the wall.

“B-Bethany!  I can walk myself.”

“Oh no no no… This isn’t required but I plan to roll you out of here in style.  Why do you think I personally came down here? Just to say my goodbyes and let you leave by yourself?  You deserve this after what you’ve been through. Now…” She took a bow, “Ascend your throne, your majesty.”

Alex’s face reddened at the special treatment and teasing from his healthcare provider, but sat down in the wheelchair all the same.  Dr. Stewart laughed as she got the exact reaction she wanted, and continued to laugh as she rolled him down the hall to the elevator and pushed the button.  Even as his face continued to blush deeper, Alex was happy. He enjoyed this moment he had with Dr. Stewart, his family at this point. It occurred to him that it might be a while before he could see her.

As they waited for the elevator, Alex secretly hoped it would be a long ride.

 

 


 

 

Hundreds of reporters huddled together, trampling each other as a man in chains was walked to the courthouse.  Dozens of police officers found themselves overrun by the mob of microphones and cameras pressing in on them. Cries came from the crowd in a wall of sound.  Finally, someone managed to push through the police and held a microphone up to the man in chains.

“Sir, why did you do this?  Why did you assassinate this young man?”

The man stopped walking and turned to the reporter.  His voice hid nothing of the contempt he felt.

“It’s only assassination if you’re important.”

The man continued to walk into the courthouse as the throng of reporters was pushed back by the police guard.  As the courthouse door shut with a loud thud, the picture quickly minimized into a smaller frame that appeared in the right-hand corner as the rest revealed a room with a man and a woman sitting behind a desk.  The woman spoke first.

“Those were the only words spoken before proceedings began.  Many have packed the courthouse in order to see what some are saying will be the court case of the decade.  While there’s no doubt Mr. Hastings is the killer, it’ll be interesting to see what sentencing is given to him and what this will mean for the heated debate currently going on about this small group Mr. Hastings belonged to called ‘The Worth of Many’.”

The man turned to her.

“I know I’ll be glued to the headlines to see what happens, Diane.  This one is gonna be a doozy.”

He turned back to the camera.

“Our reporter at the scene of the courthouse managed to get a comment from one of the jurors gathered for the proceedings about this murder.”

The camera flashed back to outside the courthouse, showing a close-up of a middle-aged man speaking into a microphone to someone off-screen.  He seemed to have been caught off-guard by the camera and was obviously nervous. An infographic came up in the bottom left to state his name was Sam Harold.  Next to his name, was the descriptor in bright white letters on a red panel, “The Death of Alex”.

“I-It’s sad, isn’t it?  It’s sad for anyone to go like that.  But I mean, uh, at least something might come out of it, right?  Like, there’s silver linings here. I don’t know, I’m feeling a bit awkward.  Excuse me.”

The man walked away from the street reporter and headed for the courthouse.  The program flashed back to the newsroom with the two reporters looking at each other.

“Well Diane, I think we’ll all be saddened by this.”

“You’re right, John, but I think Mr. Harold might have made a good point.”

Diane turned from addressing John and looked directly into the camera.

“I think there’s at least hope here.  A silver lining.”

Dr. Bethany Stewart clicked off the television.  She sat on the edge of an empty bed and put the remote down.  She held her head in her hands and sat in the silence of the moment.  The wind picked up the flimsy piece of plastic covering the window, bringing far away sounds of the city surrounding the hospital.  The world continued to turn around her as Bethany sat there.

From the open doorway, she could hear the sounds of nurses and doctors as they prepared for the autopsy.  Bethany knew they would need her soon. There was a body of a boy, barely an adult, in a room down the hall.  He gave everything he had, everything that he could. And the one thing he couldn’t give was taken from him.

She was going to make damn sure that it would not go to waste.

Not for the public.  Not for herself.

For him.

She’d be there to work on the brain after the coroner was done.  She was an expert in her field. Her hands wouldn’t shake as she held the knife, and her work would be meticulous.  Bethany would perform to the highest degree, as she always did. She would put her warpaint on and soon go to work.

But not now.

Now, she wept.  And it dawned on her she may be the only one who would.

 

One thought on “The Worth of One or Many

  1. Pingback: May 2018 Monthly Content Round-up – The Backloggers

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