To the Priest, He's the Doctor

Quick drabble-y thing I threw together for my highschool lit-mag publication. I'm a little nervous about sharing it, so I'd like to get some feedback first...Help me out?

If Thou, O Lord, shalt observe iniquities; Lord, who shall endure it?

Psalm 129


He’s a happy-looking young doctor. 

His hair is kempt and he always makes sure he has a clean, ironed dress shirt to wear under his white coat.  He sports eccentric socks but keeps them hidden under a pair of slacks or, on days he’s feeling lazy, khakis.  He usually sees forty-three patients per day, but today he sees forty-four.  

She was a child, no older than six.  The sundress she wore was decorated with sunflowers and bows that were as big as her smile.  Her name was something like Felicity but that isn’t terribly important, and she was wearing a wig. 

She’s standing patiently outside his office door when he walks up, and he has to remind himself not to smile at her because most people just let themselves inside.  He opens the door for her but doesn’t say anything; she skips past him into the room and helps herself to one of the chairs opposite his desk.  She starts swinging her legs. 

He sits at his office chair and taps the space bar on his keyboard to bring the computer monitor to life.  “I like your socks,” says the girl. 

“Thank you,” he replies quietly.  The little girl beams at him. 

It’s dark outside, and the hall beyond his glass office doors is empty, as all of the daytime attendants have left for the night and the nocturnal shift has not yet arrived.  The emergency wing is nowhere near him; the wail of sirens, though a constant break in the silence, is muffled and distant.  

“I think I should go home now,” says the girl.  “It’s almost bedtime.” 

He closes his eyes against her voice, and the light from the monitor turns to a runny confusion of blue and black streaks.  He’s lost interest in what he’s reading, can’t even remember what it is but thinks vaguely that it’s probably her file.

The girl hops down from the chair and he watches her as she leaves.  Someone had placed a headband on her head, and her corkscrew curls bounce behind her.  She turns into a hospital room and leaves the door open. 

He breathes deeply.  His throat is burning, but he swallows back the sensation and drops his head in his hands.  It doesn’t feel at all liberating to muss his carefully kept hairline with the pads of his fingers. 

The doctor walks the halls of the cancer ward, later.  He has a clipboard under his arm that one of the night shift attendants has handed him, on which all twenty-two names of the ward’s patients are checked off neatly. 

The fluorescent lights in the little girl’s room are still on, even as she sleeps.  On his way back to his office, he pauses for a moment to look in on her.  She lays with her head pillowed on folded hands, her wig slightly askew.  His shoulders feel heavy as he turns out the lights. 

He lingers in the doorway.  A passing attendant gives him a confused look, and he smiles kindly to send her on her way; she leaves, and thinks nothing of it until later, when the daytime shift comes in and he still hasn’t left his office.

The End

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