Friday, 16 January 2009 - 5:56 pm

The doctor’s visit

Doctor Masterson is feeling better.  He came in to see us today, standing straight and looking alert.  A little too bright-eyed; I’m fairly sure that he got some of this drugs.  He didn’t smell good – I think he did something disgusting in the room next door.  I guess you can’t have everything.

He almost bounced over to examine the injured and the rest of us followed him; I don’t think any of us trusted this new, alert doctor.  I was a little afraid of what he might do, due to the drugs.

He seemed to be thorough and on-topic, though; he chattered the whole time, and it was all about the patients.  He looked into Nugget’s eyes and asked her some questions.  She didn’t speak, but she did shake her head in answer.  I heard him take Sally aside and tell her that the kid might have some permanent damage from the impact to her skull.  That she might not ever speak or come ‘quite right’ again.  I don’t know what I think about that, yet.

He made faces over Ben’s burns and showed us how to dress them properly, and then went through the whole thing again for Sax.  There are no painkillers left, he said, but if we keep the wounds clean and dry, they should heal just fine.  I’m not entirely convinced – there was something in the way he said that, entirely too cheerful – but it’s worth trying.


Finally, he looked at my arm.  I didn’t really want him to, even after all this time of struggling to get here, fighting to get seen to.  I was afraid of what he’d say, what he’d find; so afraid that I almost refused entirely.  I wanted to, I really did.  I caught myself holding my arm against my chest, looking at him, ready to tell him no.

I knew I was being stupid, though.  So I took a deep breath and I let him.  It’s been days since it was unwrapped; the bruising is much less vivid than it was the last time I saw it.  My forearm doesn’t look like a graffiti artist vomited on it any more, though it’s still weirdly yellow and green in places.  It still hurts like hell, especially when he poked it.  No X-ray machines, he said, so he had to do it the hard way.  ‘Painful way’ is what he meant.

He rubbed his fingertips over a spot in the middle of my forearm and I couldn’t breathe.  It hurt so much I was seeing spots and I thought my heart had stopped entirely.  “There it is,” he said, and did it again.  I pulled out of his hands then; that was all the motion I could force my body into.  I thought I was going to pass out.  The only reason I didn’t fall down was that I was already sitting.

He was talking – babbling again – but I couldn’t hear the words.  Blood rushed in my ears; all I could hear was my heartbeat and the fire in my arm.  I couldn’t even see him.

Was he that rough with the others?  To the boys with their burns?  I can’t imagine what they must have felt.  Why the hell did we let a high doctor look at us?  Why did we trust him – because of his stained white coat?

He tried to wrap my arm up again and I wouldn’t let him.  Don’t touch me, get away from me.  I might have been more forgiving if he hadn’t poked it twice, on purpose.  It still aches now, hours later, where he prodded and rubbed on the bone.

He backed off.  It took a few minutes and several deep breaths for the blinding pain to subside, and by then Thorpe was telling him that it was about time he got the hell out and back to his stinking den upstairs.

I still had questions; I didn’t want the doctor to go.  But Thorpe was escorting him out of the room and I couldn’t fight both of them.  I just sat where I was and watched them, with a creeping, numbing feeling sneaking out from my stomach.  Like everything was wrong.


Dillon came up to me a little while after that and sat down next to me.  He had been out to check the supply rooms again, and he’d brought something back for me.  He didn’t say anything, he just gave it to me: a proper forearm brace, with velcro straps.

I hadn’t wrapped my arm up after the doctor looked at it; I didn’t want anything to touch it.  And he’d gone and got me what I needed for it.  On his own, without being asked.  When I looked at him, he seemed nervous and shrugged at me, answering a question I hadn’t asked.

Dillon told me that the doctor had said my arm had definitely been cracked, but it was knitting and just needed support.  That’s why he went out and got the brace.

I put it on – it feels so much better with it on – and then gave him a hug with my good arm.  He didn’t know what to do with that, and it was a bit awkward, but I didn’t know what else to do.

I’m not good with kids.  They’re like little aliens with desires and expectations that I can’t quite get hold of. I thought teenaged boys were supposed to be brats; Dillon hasn’t been like that once.  He’s trying so hard with me.  His gift was so thoughtful that I burst into tears all over him in the middle of the hug, and he patted my back until I was done. 

I never thought I’d say this about a kid, but I’m glad he’s here. 

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