General Fiction posted March 9, 2018


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My daughter and I hear devastating news.

Get to the Point

by Beck Fenton

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We sat together, mother and daughter, waiting for the doctor to review the tests he had ordered. Blood tests that had used half a dozen vials or more; blood sucked up and spirited away to be peered at by some phlebotomy voyeur. Physical tests that sapped strength and energy into a machine that spit out sweaty numbers. Pictures from deep inside the body reduced to statistics and variances from the norm.


"Doctor, what're the results?"


He kept his eyes down as he began his long explanation about Lupus and autoimmune diseases, using medical terminology to describe many of the aspects ahead. Scleroderma and pulmonary hypertension were two of the unknown terms that were tossed out like the first baseball of the season.


"Pulmonary hypertension? What's that mean"? Lisa began to probe him for more direct answers.


I couldn't think, much less speak. I had done some research and read about Scleroderma and Lupus. I didn't want him to give voice to my despair. The pieces of the diseases were laid out in my mind, a jigsaw with different puzzles all jumbled together in the box. The sorting took longer than the tests results.


I watched as Lisa questioned him trying to get numbers and prognosis. She looked unnaturally beautiful today. Sun streaming in the window lit her red hair with a halo. Thirty years old and not a wrinkle on her face. Her eyes were clear and she looked at the doctor with an intensity I had never seen before. Fear kept me from asking anything. I wanted to shake my head at him, to indicate that was enough information; but Lisa wouldn't have allowed it. She wanted every detail spelled out.


"Any chance for a mistake?" It was all I could ask.


"No." That one short word ended my whole world as I knew it.


He hemmed and hawed and talked about averages. Talked about medicines and rehabilitation and services, taking his time getting to the final summation.


"Just get to the point. What's the prognosis? Am I going to die from this?"


"Lisa, you can probably live a couple of years, three at the most. Probably not more than that."

I couldn't stop the words from hitting us, punching us both in the gut, the heart, the lungs, the bones: everywhere the diseases would soon hit her I, too, felt the blows.
She stared at him, then glared. "Watch me," she said. "I can live longer than that. I'm strong, right, Mom?"

My mind was busy trying to bury my grief, so I just nodded in agreement.

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Writing Prompt
Write a scene in which your main character receives surprising news.

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Contest Winner


I built a wall in my mind to contain the despair at losing my only child so she wouldnâ??t see my pain. She built a stairway to leave thoughts of dying behind her.
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