HowieMature

The short story of a widow who has to face a harrowing medical diagnosis.

Julia Macalister fidgeted in her seat, her aged hands playing tag with each other on her lap, while her eyes darted around the empty corridor. 

Why did they always have to goddamn smell like this? That same sterile, disenfectanty smell. It reminded her of sick people, bizarrely enough. Maybe she just hated being sick. 

‘I’m not sick,’ she whispered to herself. 

Oh, really Julia? A voice whispered from the back of her mind, the same one that whispered to her when she lay in bed in the dark, alone, just before falling into an sleeping pill-aided sleep. 

Oh really Julia? Cause, jeeze, I seem to remember you blacking out and falling over the other day…You remember that don’t you Julia? Oh yes you do. Yes, because when you came to, you rang the hospital, and that’s why you’re here, ain’t it Jules? 

Julia suddenly took a huge interest in the how-to-disinfect-your-hands-properly sign on the opposite side of the corridor, reading each of the steps carefully again and again. Anything to escape from those nagging thoughts. 

Like when she was about to fall asleep, that little voice at the back of her mind would suddenly start speaking. Whispering. Not literally of course, Julia Macalister was far from mad. No, those nagging thoughts were very much above being formed into such simple things as words. Much easier, not to mention more frightening, for those thoughts to assume a shapeless form. Indescribable. Just so she couldn’t tell anyone about it. She couldn’t tell people about the nerves. The panic attacks. The trembling. She couldn’t even tell her daughter, Liz. 

But what’s all this worrying about Jules? Is it the headaches you keep getting? Is that it Jules? Because you’re going to find out today, whatever way it goes. You’re going to find out in a few minutes in fact. And then you’ll know what’s wrong with you, won’t you Jules?

‘Shut it,’ she growled this time, clutching her handbag even tighter on her lap now, but no matter what she tried, the little voice wouldn’t stop. 

You’re worried you’ll end up like Mr Macalister, like dear old ‘Howie’, aren’t you? Huh? Aren’t you?

Julia shivered. ‘No, don’t say that, don’t go there…,’ she whispered to herself. 

‘Mrs. Macalister?’ A sudden voice came from the door beside her, and Julia jumped, like a jolt of electric current had just been passed through her. Her handbag fell from her lap, landing on the floor with a clatter. 

The End

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