The characters in this story are not based on real life people. Any similarity to a person living or dead is purely coincidental.
“It’s your fault, really,” Matthew’s doctor assured him.
Matthew stared from the one eye that wasn’t covered in bandages. He couldn’t see very far. The hospital was clear. Dr. Jonquil’s lab coat had a smudge on the collar, which was rumpled. Outside the window was just a blur.
“Do you have a headache?” Asked the doctor.
“Why is it my fault?” Matthew tried to get the words through the gauze on his face.
“What’s that?” asked the doctor.
“Why is it my fault?” Matthew repeated with all the volume he could muster.
“Oh, well, what did you think would happen when you bicycled into Wade Avenue when the light was red? You teenagers always think your immortal. I try to make a point of teaching you that that’s not true.”
A chill passed over Matthew. He tried to think of a clever way to confirm that Dr. Jonquil was not going to murder him, but as he tried to think, his head ached until he gave up. He said nothing.
“That didn’t come out right,” apologized the doctor.
“I do have a headache,” said Matthew.
“I do have a headache,” Matthew shouted.
“Oh, that’s right. Good. You’ll just have to avoid concentrating on anything. Focus is the issue. You said you’re captain of the chess team?”
Matthew tried a stiff nod, the bandages keeping him from moving very far. The effort strained his neck.
“Yes. Don’t do any more chess until you’re recovered.”
“When will I be recovered?” Matthew shouted.
“You play the trumpet? Three year award winner in marching band?” The doctor moved between Matthew and the window to the blurry outdoors. The move made him a silhouette. Matthew nudged his head down. It didn’t hurt too much and seemed to get the point across.
“You shouldn’t do that anymore either.”
“Are you focusing again? That’s not good. You need to heal.”
“When will I be healed?” Matthew shouted again. The doctor shrugged.
“Let’s see.” The silhouetted Jonquil had a clipboard in front of him, “You are second place statewide in wrestling and your coach credited you personally with carrying the team to victory in a regional lacrosse match. Voted most likely to win a tennis scholarship.”
“What did I say? Just stop focusing. Let your mind wander. You’ll have to stop all those things of course. You’re lucky you even have legs after what you did. Take good care of them.”
Matthew couldn’t help himself, “When will they be healed?”
“Oh, I just can’t understand you at all” whined Jonquil, “you don’t really need all this over your mouth.” He reached for Matthew and yanked down the bandages.
“When will my legs be healed?” asked Matthew, grateful for the ability to be heard without shouting.
“Oh, who can say?” Jonquil answered, “maybe never.”
Matthew jerked up in his bed and cried out in pain at the sudden motion.
“Oh, don’t do that,” chided Jonquil, “probably not never.”
Matthew forced himself to relax and lay down again.
“eh, maybe not never.” Jonquil corrected.
Matthew brooded in silence. His head started to ache, but he resisted the urge to complain, lest Dr. Jonquil censure him again. “What can I do?”
“No, not to heal, what can I do at all? There doesn’t seem to be much.”
“Well, you can look out windows. Play games – simple games. Maybe after a few rounds of candy land you can try moving up to chutes and ladders. Read, but not anything too challenging,” he looked down at his clipboard, “I know you got a letter of thanks from the Goethe Society of North America for your Senior English class essay on Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, but have you heard of this lovely series ‘Amelia Bedelia?'”
“Doctor,” Matthew was losing his patience, “This isn’t ok. There are expectations of me. I’m about to go to college, and you can’t even tell me if I’m ever going to be able to concentrate again?”
“I wouldn’t recommend college at this point.”
Matthew ground his teeth together. Jonquil stepped closer.
“Matthew, sometimes we need to learn to accept who we are. We need to accept the limitations placed on us sometimes through no fault of our own, although in this case it is entirely your fault.”
Matthew said nothing and glared.
“Did you know when I was your age, no one thought I would ever be a good doctor?”
Matthew kept silent.
“I accepted my limitations, and now look where I am! Oh, hold on, did I give you the wrong IV solution?” Jonquil inspected the drip bag hanging above Matthew, “False alarm. It’s the right one. Ha ha!”
“All right, so think about what I said,” said Jonquil, “but not too hard. I need to go help my other patients. Here’s a nice window for you to look out of.”
Jonquil left the room and Matthew returned to looking out the window. He thought there was a tree out there. A green blur on top with a brown blur below it. He tried to get his eye to focus, but his head started to hurt. It was a piercing ache behind his forehead.
“Just because the incompetent doctor thinks you’ll never walk or think again doesn’t mean that’s the case.” Matthew said to himself. “Now, the first step to getting well is to do exercises to restore lost function. So if I make a list…”
Matthew groaned and clutched his head. He went back to looking outside at the green and brown blur that might be a tree.