A/N: This is going to be a short one, only 3 chapters... I own them, you only get to enjoy their story :) Reviews are always welcome
My name is Jared. I don't really have anything interesting to say about me, really. I'm your average, 21-year-old college guy, working two jobs to pay for his expenses and juggling classes at the same time. I live in the dorms, share a room with this weird, but okay Arts student, have a small circle of friends. I have a small family. My parents are pretty great, but somewhat poor. I have an older sister, married, with her 2.5 children and picket fence. Average, just your usual day to day thing. What I do have to say is a story. It is real, and it had changed my life, changed me really, forever.
Ever had that happen to you? You live your life as usual, meet your friends, call your family, maybe spend some time with your significant other. You go to school or work, eat, rest, watch TV. The only thing that changes in this routine is the order of things, and at the end of the day you find yourself no smarter, no better person, just fooling yourself into being happy with your life, when really is just this feeling of being content, not because your life is great, but because you find comfort in familiarity.
And then one day, something happens. You take a different route home, you bump into someone in a café, you strike a conversation with someone. Or you simply see a flower and for some odd reason it makes you happy for the rest of the day. Not that fake, deceptive feeling, but true, soul deep satisfaction with being alive.
It happens to me sometimes, you know. Just sitting on a bench in the park and watching some kittens play, or little children running around and generally enjoying life. And sometimes I get jealous, because I'm so busy being an adult, that I forget what childhood was like. And I'm so busy working and studying that I rarely take some time for myself, and remember that there's more to being alive than having a job and finishing your studies.
So, anyway, something like that happens. And sometimes you just shrug the feeling and pick up your day where you left it, sliding oh, so easily, into your routine. Bu then other time, the point gets across to you. And it changes you, changes your way of thinking, your views, your goals, something. It may be just a small change, like deciding that you like the route you took today better than your usual one, because, hey, you get to walk through a park. Or your striking a conversation with that person in the café gained you a new friend. You see, little things. But sometimes, in virtue of the butterfly effect, it is the small changes that have the deepest consequences.
This time for me, it wasn't a flower, or children playing in the park, or a new route home. It was a simple visit, an accident really, and I met him. And it changed everything. He changed everything.
One year ago, the students in my year were give the opportunity to visit a hospital, work for some time there as volunteers, in order for us to get familiar with the environment, and maybe help us choose a field. Oh, haven't I mentioned I'm a Medicine student? It's kind of difficult, the schedule is really cluttered, with exams nearly every other week, with all these boring classes, during which, more often than not, you catch up on the sleep you lost going to work or simply club-hopping.
Anyway. So we got to visit a hospital. Everyone was pretty excited, this was real. This was no mere dissection on a donated corpse by God knows who, for research and teaching purposes and all that, this was the real thing. We'd get to see doctors doing the working we were preparing for, we'd get to do it, you know, actually work with humans for a change, and not poking at the brain of a cow. So yeah, everyone was looking forward to this.
And the day to go to the hospital came. We were met by the hospital manager, who gave us a pretty speech about the importance of our mission and the responsibilities we were assuming by following in this line of work. You'd have thought we were taking our Hippocratic oath right there and then. In the end, we were given a list that showed our designated departments for that day, and the rotting system for the rest of the week was explained. We'd get to work a day in each department, and after that, if we decided to stick to one of them as a volunteer and further our practice, even better.
That's how I got the short straw: Emergency. For a while it was routine work: food poisoning, a broken leg, some kid stuck with a toy in his nose, stuff like that.
Then, just my luck, a car crash: three victims, in critical condition, a married couple with a child; a girl, 6 years old. I heard the other driver died on impact . That one went directly to the morgue. Anyway.
Believe me when I tell you, you do not want to see a victim of a car crash. It's not a pretty sight. And only being a Medicine student prepares you for something like this, with all the dissecting and observing you do in labs.
They say you're not really a doctor until you have one of your patients dying. My presence had been required in the ER where the doctors were fighting to save the little girl.
On 12th of April, 2008, 6:377 PM, 6-yeard old Amelie Rye Watson died in front of me, Jared Chandler, 2nd year Medicine student.
My first day in practice, and I get to witness what most people shouldn't ever in their life have to see. Then I get to accompany my supervisor doctor outside, in the waiting room, where the grandparents of the girl were waiting. Half an hour ago, they had been informed their daughter had died. Now I was sitting there, watching yet again, how two 60-year-old people were dying, as they were told their granddaughter had flatlined.
I fled. I needed a smoke like nothing else at that moment. Do you know that feeling, when your stomach is in knots, your chest hurts like you've been deprived of air for a few minutes, but no matter how hard you try, you just can't cry? You can practically hear your heart breaking and your soul shattering, and yet you feel more like an outsider, not really being aware of what was really happening. That's what I was feeling.
I was staring down at my hands, still seeing them full of blood as they had been not half an hour ago, while I was trying to close one of the wounds. And for the first time since I decided to become a doctor, I questioned that decision. I had withstood long, painful classes, gruesome laboratories, endless project work. Nothing, nothing in my 2 years of classes had prepared me for what had happened today.
I was sitting on the roof, cigarette in my mouth, feet dangling on the edge of the building, eyes staring into nothingness. I couldn't even cry, and the shame was pushing its way out, through the numbness. I had just seen a child die, why couldn't I cry? Cry for the innocent life that had been too soon pulled out of this life.
"Do you have a death wish?"
I felt someone sit next to me.
"I'm not about to jump, so you can rest easy. " I looked sideways. Shoulder-length, silky, blonde hair, skinny body, maybe some inches shorter than me.
"I meant the cigarette. Don't they teach you about lungs cancer in Med School?" He turned his face to me. Hazel eyes, lips tilted in an amused smile.
"How… oh, the white uniform." I rolled my eyes.
" I'm just here in practice. Besides, this is not really my best of days." I filled my lungs with the cancerous smoke again.
"I'm a patient. I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to smoke around me." I exhaled, not really bothering to shape boats and hearts.
"Which reminds me. Shouldn't you be tucked in a bed or something?" He shrugged.
"Or something". A few minutes ticked by.
I pulled again from the cigarette.
"You going to tell me what are you doing on the roof, flashing the whole city through your hospital gown?"
I expected another joke, a cocky come-back.
"I don't like hospitals." He shrugged again, smile dying on his lips.
"Can I ask you why?"
He smiled again.
"You can ask, doesn't mean I'm going to answer."
"Fair enough." Another few minutes passed in silence.
"So why are you trying so desperately to shrivel your lungs?"
"I have been initiated as a doctor today."
I looked straight into his eyes.
"My first death today." His eyes saddened, the hazel exuding sympathy and regret.
"I'm sorry." He put one hand on my cheek, still gazing into my eyes.
"Would it help to talk about it?" I shrugged.
"Not much to tell. Car accident. Unlucky family. Nothing the doctors could really do. Mother and daughter died, the husband is in a coma."
"Which one was yours?"
"The daughter." I whispered. And I felt a gentle touch on my cheek, his thumb caressing, wiping away a tear I hadn't even known was there.
"What was her name?"
"Does it matter? She's dead." I gasped and closed my eyes. He didn't say anything. His hand was still cupping my face. When I opened my eyes, his gaze was still on me.
"Amelie. Amelie Rye Watson." Another whisper. "6 years old. Oh, God ".
And the tears started flowing.
I don't know how much time passed, me crying in the arms of this stranger. Crying away my sadness, my regret for the loss of a young, pure, innocent life, my inability of saving her, my limitations as a human, my grief at realizing that it wouldn't be the last time it happened. And the doubts came again, flooding me.
What made me think that I could make a difference? Pure arrogance, to think that you could give back life to people. A God-complex, really. No matter how much I tried, people were still going to die.
"It's all in vain, isn't it? " I had pulled away from his embrace, but his hand was now resting in mine. I was glad for the contact. I looked back into his eyes. He seemed to know what I was talking about.
"How come?" I was getting angry, frustrated, helplessness flooding me. "I can't beat death, no one can."
"How did you decide to become a doctor?" He asked me, choosing not to answer my question. I smiled a little at his question.
"Nothing spectacular, really. No great ambition of finding the cure for HIV or other such disease, no goal of saving humanity. When I was little, I wanted to be a superhero. When that didn't come through, it was either a doctor or a lawyer. "
"So you wanted to help people." His thumb was brushing against the skin of my hand. I looked down at our twined hands.
"I guess. But I'm starting to think I might have been better off being a lawyer."
"So, the kid who breaks his arm doesn't deserve help?" I looked up at him, frowning.
"Of course it does." He nodded.
"And a woman giving birth, does she too?
"Yes, of course!" I was getting frustrated again. "Why are you asking me this?"
He smiled, tilting his head a little to the side .
"Even though you won't ever find the cure for AIDS, or made a great breakthrough like penicillin or whatever, there will always be people in need of help, in need of being saved. And if through your work, you're able to give a sick person another year to live, is it not worth it?"
"Mr. Moore, are you up there?" a shrill voice, obviously belonging to a woman, probably a nurse. He sighed.
"That's my cue. I have to go. " He tightened his grip on my hand and suddenly leaned to kiss my cheek. He got up and looked down at me, letting go of my hand.
"Think about what I said, okay? See you again here tomorrow!" And he turned to walk towards the exit.
"Yeah…" he was almost at the exit. "Wait! What's your name?"
He turned towards me and smiled again.
And he was gone.