Having neatly tied off the bandages, Peter grabbed the cloth and started, once again, gently dabbing at Phillip’s nose and stained face, albeit in a nervous way; Peter even caused a drop of his own blood to well up as he bit down hard on his bottom lip to steady himself. In truth, Phillip’s speech had given him strength and touched every part of his heart. Peter would have liked to say that he knew what it felt like to be parted from his one true love, but that would reveal to Phillip all that had happened downstairs with Beth. No matter how he felt, Peter wasn’t ready to admit that his brother had been right.
“You’ve never considered joining the practise though?” Phillip asked.
“Hmm?” Peter allowed himself to ‘tune back in’ from thinking of his dear girl, and was grateful to see that Phillip was looking more or less back to normal. Even the constant flow of blood from his nose seemed to have stopped, leaving behind only the occasional smear of dried blood, and the stained cloth that Peter was holding surprisingly tightly in the palm of his hand.
“Have you ever thought of being a doctor, Peter? It would be a splendid and noble profession for one such as your good self. And thank you, that will do.”
Phillip gently took the cloth from his brother, and held it up to stop the last trickles of ruby blood that dripped from his nose. With a sigh, Peter collapsed against the attic steps, sweating and slightly nauseous.
“I’ve never given it any thought; the war rather threw away any thoughts I had about a different career. I guess father has taught me nothing else,” he sighed, “Besides, how would I be able to deal with it with my affliction. Whoever heard of a doctor afraid of blood?
By the way, I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to treat your nose properly.”
Phillip tried to wave his right hand, the free one that was not holding the fabric to his nose, but then he remembered that it was the one that was still guarded by the prison of white linen and the dark loss of sensation.
“There are ways to treat such illnesses. It’s all in your mind, you know, Peter.”
He chuckled and then remarked:
“Forgive me for being so patronising. Your manner would make you an ideal doctor. And you wouldn’t necessarily have to work at the bedside, treating festering scabs, or healing tears. With medicine, and your knowledge, your path is open; you could work on the science of medicine, invent the next biggest thing, or maybe even find a cure for the incurable: cancer.” He paused. “Oh, and about my nose: you’ll have to go and get father to treat it.”
All hope and ideas for his future disappeared from Peter’s mind, which became filled with cold dread, spreading its eerie tendrils ever further over happiness and success.
“Father?” Peter whispered, his voice finally quivering, “He hates me at the moment, and will listen to no-one but Ryan. There is no way on this Earth that I could ask him for help.”
“I myself don’t have a choice,” Phillip growled, “He will be able to sort me out and find the quickest route to my recovery...even if it costs us both an unjustified apology.
“Besides we have to go and see him sometime.”
Phillip had certainly changed his tune, and he had truly seen the light in his ongoing darkness, Peter noticed; perhaps the former had been enlightened to the joy of life now.
The adam’s apple of Peter’s throat bobbed down and up again for a second as he swallowed in uneasy anticipation.