Author Topic: ... To Do No Harm ...  (Read 67 times)

Offline Distorted Angel

  • New Poster
  • *
  • Posts: 38
  • ... God Is A Laughing Spider...
    • View Profile
... To Do No Harm ...
« on: November 07, 2017, 05:21:51 AM »
“I should have learned mindfulness, and it’s too late now because it’s no good learning it when you’re already in crisis: you have to start when things are good. But only the very, very oddest would think, Hey, my life is perfect. I know! I’ll sit and waste twenty minutes observing my thoughts without judgement.”
― Marian Keyes, The Break

Dr Marion Clarke’s Office
Atlantic City, NJ

She secretly despised the little porcelain figurines on her desk.

A supposed thank you present from an elderly widow following the recent passing of her long suffering husband, she’d come in with handkerchief balled in one hand to carefully dab at her eyes periodically, and a plastic bag with a cardboard box in the other.
It wasn’t unusual to receive gifts from the loved ones of those she’d treated, especially long term cases, and in truth it made her feel a little guilty knowing those same families would be struggling financially for years to come harbouring a disdain that perhaps the doctor should have done less.

First do no harm.

Seemed ironic really, those same people who preached that were the same ones trying to keep people alive and in horrendous pain simply because their families weren’t ready to let go.
Outdated and archaic, it should have long since been changed to ‘first do no harm by your financial status’. Granted it was nowhere near as catchy, at least it was honest.

If only Dr Marion Clarke had been able to muster that honesty when presented with a cardboard box full of bubble wrapped porcelain figurines- she assumed they were supposed to represent animals, hand painted with an unrealistic palate and deliberately maligned features.
Of course the widow had looked expectant of gratitude, her shaking hands clasped expectantly and an almost senile smile across a kindly face that looked as though it was slowly melting.

They both knew, but neither said a damn word.

Now, across the desk, it seemed her 2:15 shared the same relative disdain for the figurines.

She’d been seeing Amber Ryan since she’d first come to Atlantic City, which left them several years into a professional relationship and little more than a stack of paperwork and excessive medical records to show for it. ‘Professional wrestler’, that’s what she’d cited as an occupation although to call it even that would have been a stretch, Dr Clarke lamented as she studied the redhead across from her. Makeup did a good job of hiding the scars and a general disinterest masked the pain, only the trained eye could see the faint colour changes between skin and scar tissue on her cheek and the discoloured bruising that peeked out from the right neckline of her black t-shirt.

Dr Marion Clarke wasn’t one to follow wrestling- at 53 years old with a complicated marriage to only her job and little else to show for her existence than a couple of PhD’s on the wall. With her thin wiry hair seemed perpetually tangled slightly in the arms of her minimalist glasses and lips constantly pursed into a vaguely judgemental, she didn’t exactly epitomize their target audience.

If anything she found the whole thing quite absurd, at 29 years old the redhead should have had her whole future to look forward to- perhaps a steady job, a career and maybe even a family on the horizon if she dared consider that route… and instead she’d found herself in Dr Clarke’s office disinterestedly examining a tiny porcelain cat with eyes too small and ears not quite symmetrical enough to satiate her OCD.

“Ms Ryan, I think I know why you came in today.”

Lowering her eyes back to her paperwork, flicking through pages as though inviting a response she knew wouldn’t come and making a quick mental note before returning her attention back to the redhead who was still studying the tiny cat figure as though trying to make sense of its continued existence.
Secretly Dr Clarke wished that she’d simply drop it, considering a male patient she’d delivered terminal news to just three days earlier had taken the rough approximation of an owl and thrown it against the door. He’d been given 5 months to live, and in the moment she could only wish he’d destroyed a couple more.

Seemed almost callous in hindsight.

Amber said nothing, she didn’t need to and therefore found no point in the effort. So many people put stock into making noise for the sake of it, speaking because the sound of their own voice created a reassurance that they were important for another few minutes until the silence swallowed them whole once more.
She could feel the doctor's eyes staring through her, even when they were looking at the paperwork being carefully strewn across the table- both of them already knew what it said, now it was just killing time as though either of them had a lot of it to spare.

“I’m glad one of us is onto it then.”

With tiny paw held in upward expectancy, Amber rolled the figure between her fingers- she’d always been one of those people who needed to keep her hands busy, or in this case hand as the right one rested awkwardly in her lap. No doubt they’d get to that eventually, trying to manoeuvre as awkwardly as possible around the banal small talk as they could cooperatively manage before cutting to the chase about 5 minutes too late.

Terrible little creature, adequate distraction though.

“You need to be signed off to return to work.”

It seemed the chase had come 2 minutes early.


Amber hated the noise she made immediately, it had sounded much better in her head 5 seconds earlier and scolded herself internally for going with it.

“I mean, yes and no. Kind of- cause truth be told I can work without you signing me off, but it just makes the paper pushers feel a little better about it.”

“Well I trust you’re aware this is your fourth dislocation and, or separation in the past three years.”

Wrong. It was closer to two and a half however Amber hadn’t prepared herself to be pedantic so instead bit her tongue and attempted to smile in agreeance, although she suspected it looked more as though she’d swallowed something unpleasant… which wasn’t all that far from the truth.

“Which in turn makes you further susceptible to future injury should you continue down this path.”

Amber had been made well aware of the fact following the last two times she’d found herself in this situation, only then she’d had a lot more snark and a lot less patience for such trivialities. Another surgery was a guarantee by now, a matter of when instead of if based off the wear and tear she’d created and in turn she’d find herself on the receiving end of advice to quit while she still had use of her arm.

Advice she’d politely decline before throwing herself into back into the firing line of wrestling.

Maybe it was the PhD’s, the accolades in cheap frames and sycophantic pats on the back from other professionals that warranted their need to advise people on their life choices. A different professional, the same fucking lecture as though medical school granted them the god given right to declare how much you could fuck your own life up.

“I’m aware.”

“And it doesn’t bother you?”

She was unsure if it were intended to be framed as a question, perhaps a rhetoric designed to create doubt and internal dialogue or an attempt to get a response beyond an arbitrary carefully manufactured nothing in particular.

“Should it?”

Maybe a question wasn’t the right thing to come back with.

“Let me rephrase then- is the guarantee that you’ll be back in my office having this same discussion, trying to justify a career choice that I don’t understand, within a shorter amount of time than either of us care to admit… really worth it?”

That was supposed to be the $64000 question, Amber presumed, with the furrowing of brows and quiet contempt for the conversation having taken even this long not exactly lost upon her either.
Somewhere in all this, there was the idea that an answer existed to satisfy all parties.

A right answer as if everything else she could say would be wrong.

Neither of them would acknowledge it though, nothing beyond a dissatisfied sigh escaping Dr Clarke’s lips punctuated the silence. Even the murmuring of voices beyond the office door seemed to taper off in anticipation- their lives went on, unaffected by anything that occurred in this office. Sick people came and went, popping another pill to make themselves feel anything else except this- a downer to relax, an upper to bring them back to level and something for the pain which needed counteracting from something else, which in turn created side effects to be dampened by a little pill promising nothing less than miracles.

“Ms Ryan, is it?”

Finally tired of the porcelain cat, Amber placed it back down in its place. Impatience was a curse, a need to be acknowledged was a sin even Amber had been guilty of at times. Instant gratification, every question requiring an answer before it had even been verbalized, let alone digested. Everything was now or never, and to wait would receive the same response as threatening to cast a generational curse on future great great grandchildren they’d likely never meet.

Still, Amber paused to wriggle her fingers on her right hand. These days her arm only seemed to hurt when she moved it, and when she didn’t.

They had pills for that too, although she’d always preferred to self-medicate in liquid form.

Went down easier, less bitter. Unlike the words resting on her tongue.

“Yeah, it is.”

Wrong answer.


4CW: 10-6-0
Carnage: 11-2-0
Life: 0-1-0