Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Day's End (01/01/14)
TITLE: Fear Not
By Larry Elliott
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“I’m not sure.”
“Of whom are you afraid, or is it perhaps of what?”
“I’m not sure.” The girl repeated and gazed beyond the large picture window behind the man sitting at an old, but posh, walnut desk. “Doctor?”
“I like you.”
“And I like you as well, Darla. You are my best patient by far.”
“Doctor?” The girl turned her head slightly and down toward the sculptured carpeting, still refusing to make eye contact, “Do you believe in hell?”
“ Darla, it is my place to ask questions and you should answer, at least some of them.”
“Do you? Believe in hell, Doctor Suthers?” she persisted and turned back to the window.
“No, I’m afraid I don’t.”
“Afraid Doctor? If you do not believe then why are you afraid? What are you afraid of?”
“It’s just a figure of speech, a slip of the tongue. I am not afraid, Darla.”
The girl went silent and even more still, if that were possible, then for the first time since she had been in his care she stared directly into the doctors eyes.
“You should be.”
The doctor, not knowing how to respond to this, remained quiet.
“Since you don’t believe there is a hell, you don’t believe there is a Heaven or a God then.” She finally broke the silence.
“Well, I can’t say for sure. It might be possible that there exists a superior being somewhere, another planet or universe, maybe, where death and sickness, maybe even evil, have been eliminated somehow. And some might consider that kind of place a heavenly place.”
“Everyone’s days are numbered, doctor, from the moment we are born, but yours is nearly at end.”
“Is that meant to be some sort of threat?”
“No, Doctor, just truth.”
A single tear welled, broke free and trailed her cheek.
“I think that will be enough for today.” The doctor pressed the intercom, “Nurse, will you please take Darla back to her room now.”
The nurse arrived and took the girl gently by the arm leading her to the doorway.
”Why don’t you two stop by the dining room for a bowl of ice cream before giving Darla her meds. ” The doctor added.
“Why don’t you ever smile, Doctor Suthers?” Darla asked.
He did not answer. His expression deepened even more as the memories of his wife and her suffering flooded his mind.
“God loves you very much, Doctor Suthers. Just ask Him and He will tell you Himself.” She stopped in the doorway to look at him once again, “And Lib really likes the photograph and the yellow roses, Sutty.”
Now an expression of bewilderment mingled with the sad and dismal.
“How…?” He began, but stopped. The doctor stared perplexedly at his patient. He had never mentioned to anyone at the clinic the pet names he shared exclusively with his wife. As for the photograph of Elizabeth and he taken just weeks before her symptoms began and the dozen roses, he placed them on her grave just an hour ago on his way to work. So there was no explanation as to how the girl knew any of this.
Without another word the doctor moved his gaze to the yard beyond the window behind him.
The nurse softly closed the door behind her.
The doctor turned on some music loud enough to muffle his sobs to the world outside his office. He opened a drawer, reached in the back and pulled out the small black book he had not opened since his wife died.
Later that day Darla watched from her window as the ambulance pulled silently from the clinic.
She overheard two nurses talking as they solemnly passed her room.
“They said it was a heart attack and he appeared to have died instantly. There was nothing any of us could have done even if we had known.”
“But to die alone at his desk like that.”
“Did you see his face?”
“Yeah, that was the most bizarre part of it all, that grin from ear to ear. You know, I never saw a smile on his face once since his wife died.”
“Yeah, I know.”
As their voices trailed away Darla turned from the window.
Across her pillow lay a single yellow rose.
She picked it up, smelled it and gently cradled the flower in her arm like a child might lovingly hold a new doll.
As she stared at it she whispered, “Thank you, Elizabeth. It’s beautiful."
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