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Short Story

Return of the Vicious Circle


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"I’d rather go home and see for myself. Can’t you sign me out of here?" Claire put the newspapers down on the bed. Where her left leg should be the covers were flat and her eyes ricocheted away.

"You will go home, all in good time. After your operation–"

"I told you, I’m not having another goddamn operation. I want a second opinion." She crossed her arms over her chest. Her arms looked skinny now, their matching tattooed bracelets of barbwire a foolish bravado under the harsh overhead light. The tattoo art on her missing leg had cost her six hundred bucks and an ounce of Pemberton outdoor organic. Bet your ass ICBC wouldn’t be covering that.

"You’ve already had more than one second opinion," Abdalrahman said. "And I’m telling you, you need the hemi-pelvectomy."

Claire set her jaw against the images of her hip and innards gouged out like the pulp from a cantaloupe. "Screw that," she said. "I don’t want any more cut off. I want it left alone." She looked across the room to where old Mrs. Engesett lay flat on her back. She was always asleep, she could be in a coma for all Claire knew. A broken hip and she probably wouldn’t leave here alive.

"Leaving it alone won’t save it," Abdalrahman said. "Unfortunately there’s been more tissue necrosis. There wasn’t enough surviving blood flow to keep the tissue alive. The surgeons here are just cleaning it up so you don’t lose any more. So you don’t lose your life."

"What life?"

"Give it time. You’ll find new ways to live your old life."

Claire turned away from the kindness in Dr. Abdalrahman’s eyes. "Spare me the pep talk crap." Then she tensed as a doctor and a nurse entered the room carrying a tray covered in a cloth. But instead of turning towards her, they went to Mrs. Engesett’s bed. The nurse twitched the curtain around the old woman’s bed. Pulling the curtain was a bad sign. Claire tugged her own sheet up higher. She missed the morphine amnesia of the first days following her accident.

"Listen," she said, "what I really need right now are some better drugs. All the stuff they keep locked up in the medicine cabinet down the hall – you could get me a few uppers or some pharmaceutical grade coke."

Dr. Abdalrahman smiled to show he could take a joke. "Will you talk to the therapists after your operation, please? They can help you."