The notebook: a short short

He breathed. His shoulders lifted in pain as he gasped for air. His daughter sat between him and her mother in the waiting room, silent except for his breathing.

The daughter broke the quiet. “Look, Dad,” she said, pulling out a new blue notebook. “I heard it’s a good idea to bring a notebook to write everything in one place.” She spoke with anxiety and kindness, talking quickly, assuredly. She was jumpy and excited, trying to help her dad fill out paperwork on one side of her while answering her mother’s unremitting questions on the other.

The father looked up, staring at nothing. His eyes were the bluest blue, radiated by the water in them, either from age or sadness. Looking deeper, I saw what it must be like to be a father and a husband to these two women, carrying the enormous weight of death on his shoulders.

He turned his face and looked at me. I realized I had been staring at this family who sat across from me in the doctor’s office.

I felt ashamed all at once for being privy to this family’s private anguish.

“He’s a really good doctor,” I said. My voice had all but disappeared when I spoke.

All three of them looked at me and I said it louder, “He’s a good doctor.”

The daughter looked immediately relieved, but my words were lame. I knew what it was to be them: father, mother, daughter, sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting to hear the truth, but knowing already what it was.

The daughter leaned forward. She smiled, glad for someone to talk to. “We found him on the internet.”

“My husband works at the hospital, he’s one of the best,” I said. Having a good doctor would not lessen the sting, but for a moment the daughter hoped it might. She relaxed into her chair.

I wanted to say out loud, I’m sorry for what you’re going through or I understand how you feel, because somehow I knew. Deep inside, I knew just like they did.

The nurse stepped into the waiting area and called me into the office. I stood and gathered my book bag.

Stopping before I went into the corridor with the nurse, I turned to the three. “Good bye.” It was all I could say.

They all looked at me. But the only person I saw was the father and his blue, blue eyes.


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Natasha
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 23:02:09

    Another powerful piece that draws the reader right into the center and doesn’t let go.


  2. Parrot Writes
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 19:20:03

    I can feel the helplessness and anguish of this man. Your response feels like there is still an open wound. Great job of capturing their moment in time.


  3. Darksculptures
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 15:27:06

    IF this is fiction you have captured the mood well, but I have a feeling this is based on a day in the life of Kathan and thus the reason for imparting such strong emotion through the story. Am I right?


    • Kathan Lewis
      Sep 15, 2010 @ 18:27:12

      Perhaps, perhaps…or maybe the emotions are close enough to my real life that I filled in some of the story? There are some parallels. But it’s not completely real. Close maybe, but I shall call it fiction nonetheless… 😉


  4. dayner
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 10:16:17

    Ditto what Shaddy said. You pulled me in completely. Great writing, Kathan.
    I wish I could express this type of strong emotion in so few words…


  5. Shaddy
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 09:42:47

    It may be short on words, but it’s tall and broad with emotions.


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© Kathan Ink 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kathan Ink, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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