The walls were white, not a single speck of dirt anywhere; the room had acquired a bleach odor that filled my nostrils every single time. The scalpels were newly sanitized, newly sharpened. The double glass doors have obtained a slight squeak when opened, and the operating table was covered in a new sheet. One would never guess how this room affects me so; one would never guess the images permanently drilled into my mind, those sheets, that color. I am not supposed to get attached; there is no emotion in this industry, just skill. I was not supposed to care enough so that her face could haunt my dreams. This is my job, my profession; nothing more.
Crystal blue, how that one color alone can cause so much emotion. Her face, those eyes, why? Why she was chosen, I do not know. Why she came to me, I do not know, but what I do know, is every detail of her. Her once auburn hair faded into a dull brown as time grew. Her once crystal blue eyes have developed into an emotionless ocean. Her youthful skin now a pasty off white color, yet the one thing that remained unchanged throughout our time together was that necklace. A silver cross attached to a silver chain loosely hung on her slender neck, always. Her name was Annabelle, she was seven years old. Every single time she entered my office, her appearance dwindled. She never questioned why her, she never wondered how long; all she cared about was that I had a smile on my face, and that she would get her lollipop.
The first time I met her I knew something was wrong, just intuition I assume, comes with the territory of being a doctor. As I started my inspection, she rambled on about her school days, what she learned. She recently discovered random facts about penguins and can now name all of the continents on the Earth. Her innocence fascinated me. She knew nothing of her condition, nothing of war; she was never exposed to the animosity that exists in this world. She didn't wonder about the future, she only cared of what was right in front of her, the cards she was dealt. She never inquired why she had to keep returning, never occurred that something was wrong. She told me of her problems at school, how she was picked last for kickball, and how some boy told her that she had cooties. I smiled at this comment and reassured her that she didn't have cooties. However, I couldn't help but think that under this nonchalant exterior, was a girl afraid of her future, that there was pain; a pain that I wanted to soothe.
I was never emotionally involved, I wouldn't allow myself to. If I let all the negative occurrences in my life get to me, than I wouldn't be able to help my next patient, but end up wallowing in my self pity. However this was different, she was different. For some reason, she broke it, she broke me. Her innocence affected me; her inability to see past her nose was mind boggling. I miss that innocence. I could never look straight into her eyes, in fear of my emotions taking over. I could never lie to her, I couldn't taint her purity. But I had to, I was forced to, Annabelle had the right to know.
"Annabelle?" She looked up at me. "Sweetie, do you know why you are constantly coming to my office?" I inquired.
"Uhm, No?" She questioned herself. I shifted uneasily, still contemplating whether or not to break her. If she broke down, am I to blame? If she hated me, would it be my fault?
"Would you like to know, dear?"
"Well, I kind of know already, mommy told me that I was sick, but you're a doctor; you can make me better right? I mean, that is was doctors do, make sick people feel better, right?" She tugged at the silver chain gently laid upon her neck.
I smiled, and reassured her that I would try my best. However, deep down I knew, I knew that no matter the extent of my efforts, I would not be able to help this child. I would not be able to save her.
Over the next few months, her visits were more frequent, and her condition worsened. However, it never fazed her. Annabelle was as lively and confident as the moment I met her. She was so confident that everything will be alright, she was so sure that I could help her. Her confidence in my work, her confidence in me, resulted in my self esteem committing suicide; knowing I could do nothing to stop this child from feeling anymore pain, caused me pain. Am I supposed to be the "superman" of the world and save those in need? Am I destined to heal everyone's hurts and dry their tears? Am I supposed to do some sort of magic, then every one's pain will go away? What was the point of going to medical school for ten years if I can't save the life of a seven year old girl who needs it?
It was a sunny spring day; there was a slight wind and the sky a crystal blue. The hospital halls were stranded, and the only sounds audible were the clicking of the nurse's shoes against the white tile. I was completing my charts from the previous day when Annabelle's mother ran in, out of breath, holding a limp Annabelle in her arms. I dropped my charts and jogged quickly as I could, my eyes never leaving the flaccid body she was holding. I placed my hands on Annabelle's forehead and soon realized her body temperature was lower than supposed to be. I took Annabelle from her mother's arms and ran her to the nearest operating room. I placed her cooling body onto the operating table, laying her head down as gently as possible. I told her mother to get some help, so she did. I checked for Annabelle's pulse but there was none. I quickly removed her shirt and set up the defibrillator. As I was doing this the nurses came into the room, I told them to set the charge at 200. I shouted, "CLEAR!" and placed the paddles on her chest. Her body convulsed and her back arched. I checked the defibrillator's monitors, nothing. I repeated my actions but got the same results. I reiterated my actions 3 or 4 times until finally the nurse placed her hands upon mine and shook her head. I hid my emotions; I was able to hold back the tears that were begging for release. I announced her time of death and I sent my sympathies to Annabelle's mother. I filled out the proper paper work and told the nurses to take care of her body.
Days after Annabelle's death I still thought of her. Why, I do not know. Why this child stuck with me, I do not know. But what I do know is that in my box the next day, there lay a silver cross on a silver chain. I never shed tears for her decease; I just wore her necklace, remembering her. Her confidence in me, her confidence in the world, her innocence, it stuck with me. She didn't deserve the cards she was dealt, she didn't deserve someone that couldn't help her. What she did deserve was a full life; however, she didn't get that either.
"Paging Doctor Stanton, Paging Doctor Peter Stanton; you are needed in the operating room". A monotonous robotic voice stated over in the intercom. Yet another soul is in need of my help, however, how can I assist my next patient when I couldn't help the first?