This is a little short story I wrote today based on a prompt. Alex Keegan runs a boot camp and writing group on Facebook (transplanted from the old Compuserve days), and I’ve been participating by writing at least 500 words a day. I ran dry with my project, so I used one of his prompts to come up with this. Read it through, and I’ll tell you what the line was in the comments.
The clinic was as clean and bright as
any. The little room met all the needs of the waiting folk, yet
didn’t encroach. What was it that they said in their literature, he
wondered? Ah, yeah, motherfucking feng shie shit or some goddamned
nonsense. The paint was bright, but not too bright, whites were more
like bone, and the soft greens were of a child’s room. But there
were no children, Frank mused, not yet, anyway.
He sat down and grabbed a magazine from
the table and thumbed through it, waiting for his name to be called.
Frank was neither very young, nor very old, but his face was
strained, tired, and his jacket weighed down on his shoulders as he
slouched in the chair. He was tired all the time, no energy. He
was a rusty old engine before his time.
He thumbed through the glossy magazine
with the beautiful, impossibly thin brunette. “Ten Tips to get
Ready for Swimsuit Season!” the title screamed in sixteen point
Helvetica and below that, “lose 10 pounds in two weeks.” There
were beautiful people inside, airy girls, with legs splayed wide in a
loose jangle, knees twisted in, and bitting their lower lips. They
threw up their arms in others, kicking sand or water, laughing,
twisting, fixing on him. They didn’t have a care in the world. A
smooth fashionably disheveled young man flashed perfect white teeth
and flexed tan muscular arms. Those arms, that chest – they belonged
on another planet, the fuck. Maybe I’ll start working out. Maybe
I’ll finally be able to keep it up and make some progress.
Another page asked him if he felt
moody, if he might have some disorder. Ask your doctor, the page
implored. Another goddamned ad, he thought. There were more
advertisements than articles. Sometimes you couldn’t tell the
difference. Scratch that, it didn’t make a difference, they were the
Pharmaceutical ads read like clinical
reports from the New England Journal of Medicine, always adding the
helpful “get a medical opinion.” As if that would make a
difference, he thought. Ask your fucking doctor. Motherfucker’s
probably in the back pocket of the salesgirl in the short skirt.
Give me what I want doc. I need some fucking drugs. Modern doctors
were goddamned drug pushers, that’s all – put us all on a
merry-go-round, an’ collect money on every spin.
Actual articles aways seemed to be
pushing something too. Feed the writer with your agenda, and then
write a “solid” article. Bah! Who are they kidding, The ads are
ads, and the articles are too. Guess everybody needs to make a buck,
though, and he shrugged and tossed the magazine back on the little
table. It opened up, some of its pages spilling over the edge,
dragging it, slithering to the ground in a heap. He sighed, knelt
down, and retrieved it, cursing to himself softly.
Maybe he just needed some drugs after
all. Maybe he just needed a drink. Weren’t the solutions all easy?
Isn’t that what they were selling, easy solutions. He was no
different, and he was here to get things fixed. Easy. He pondered
the notion of easy. Was easy uncomplicated or did it just mean with
little effort. Effort is something he was going to have to deal
with. It took effort, lots of it, so yes, he decided, it would not
be easy. It would just be uncomplicated. Not like now anyway.
“Mr. Koloski?” said a young woman
in a smart uniform, “They are ready for you.”
“But are you, hon?” he
“Oh, Mr. Koloski, you’re much too
young for me,” and she giggled. “Maybe in a few years, hmm?
Sign here, and proceed to room 9.” And she handed him a tablet with
a place to scan his thumb.
Frank shuffled down the hall, leaving
black scuff marks in the newly waxed tiles. He turned the knob to
room 9 and entered.
“Hello, Mr. Koloski,” the doctor
said, smiling, “Welcome, again. Let’s just get a few formalities
out of the way, shall we? Do you have further instructions before
we do the trace? As you know, legally, and practically, the rights
of your person will be terminated at the moment of the procedure.
All we will have to maintain continuity is your trace and this
document. Carefully consider any instructions you have for us, and
rest assured that they will be followed in the strictest confidence
“If possible I would like to be born
C-section this time. My shrink told me that my difficult birth…
left me blocked.” He waved his hand in front of his face. “Time
before that, I didn’t get into a good school. Limited my career.
Yes, I have decided, I would like to have a less traumatic birth this
time. They tell me I’ll have it easier.”