Monday, January 15, 2018

Last Call

Last Call
JD Rhode

So, I went to the doctor the other day.  The one on call wasn’t my regular physician, but I needed to stop by.  I go when I should, you know, to stay healthy.  I don’t smoke, don’t drink; I take pretty good care of myself, but lately, I’ve been feeling ill.  The doc got the test results today and called me in.
Cancer?  Me?  How is that possible?  I am healthy.  It doesn’t even run in my family.  I’m married, and they say most married people are healthier.  I have one son-13 years old.  How could I be that sick?  Why was this not seen earlier?
The doctor apologized for my distress-or whatever you’d like to call it-but said it was spreading fast.  It started in my stomach, maybe the cause for my increasing stomach aches.
He said I have six months at best!
What was I going to do?  It was near to my son’s birthday-a couple months.  How could I tell him that I may not make it?  What could I tell my husband to console his fears?
What did I do to deserve cancer?  My mind filled with a thousand different things.  Was it that parking ticket I never paid?  The time I accidentally short changed that waitress?  Or when I had to shop on Thanksgiving Day and took the last can of green beans out of that old woman’s hands and bought it for my own family?
As the day went on, and I returned home, my mind wandered to more heavily guarded secrets-one from thirteen years ago, in particular.  Our son was not my husband’s.  I had an affair, but he never knew, or at least if he did, he never mentioned it or treated our son differently.
Was this my punishment thirteen years later?  As if the guilt I’ve carried wasn’t bad enough?  I began wandering the bedrooms in frustration.  Oh, God, why me?  Why now?  Only six months to live.  What if the doctor was wrong?  What if I only have two months?
Or one?
My bedroom spun as I thought.  I only had one choice-I would die with dignity.  I decided to take one last bath, as I looked into the bathroom mirror, my hand then clutching my pink razor.
The water was hot on my skin, just the way I liked it.  At first, I hesitated, digging the blade in my arm, but then I thought of the agony I would surely feel in the months to come.  Treatments, diets, family drama; the list went on.  I had to do it my way.  Once the blood started flowing, it didn’t seem as painful as I initially anticipated.  The water began to turn red, and I grew tired as the bedroom phone rang.  I always let the machine pick up when I took my baths, but I could still hear who was calling; it was the doctor.
He said, “Hello, Mrs. Jones.  This is Dr. Wade.  I hoped I’d catch you, and I don’t like talking about personal information to a machine, so I’ll make it fast.  I sincerely apologize for this and any unnecessary trouble it may have caused, but two charts with the exact same name were switched today.”  He only paused for half a second before continuing.  “You don’t have cancer; you’re pregnant.  I know you and your husband will be thrilled.  Call me when you get this-any time of the day.”

The machine went dead as those words rang in my brain, and then, so did I.

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