Smokers Outside the Hospital



Woke up and showered then had some cornflakes and a cup of tea before getting the taxi to the hospital. The driver told me he had four kids. He then mentioned how impressed he was that I was looking after myself, because so many people are lazy and smoke and drink and don’t care about themselves, to which I sheepishly mumbled my thanks. Dropping me off soon after, I wandered around the grounds of the hospital and eventually found the X-ray department on the first floor of the main building. The receptionist told me to wait at the end of the corridor to the right. There was one other person there- some odd looking chap with milk-bottle glasses. He kept looking at me, so I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep. Resting my head against my right hand, when I opened them again there was some meathead sat down opposite with his trophy wife. They were talking about their sexual exploits from the night before in hushed tones. Yeah, it’s as boring as you can imagine. An hour later and I was called in for the ultrasound. The waiting room was filling up at this point, and as I stepped past the meathead, he gave me a dirty look to which I replied with a cheesy smile.

Inside the spacious room, there was an Asian chap with long hair and a middle-aged woman who avoided eye contact. The guy told me to get on the bed and lie down. When I did, he passed me a white sheet and informed me to lower my trousers and underwear and then cover myself. A few minutes later he pulled the sheet back and smeared lube over my balls. It was cold and made my dick shrivel up. I’m sure this wasn’t an issue for him, but for me, it was quite the inconvenience. When he began scanning my bits, against my wishes, I thought about Sarah’s baby bump, and how there had once been a time I would fall asleep clutching her belly dreaming of a future that was never meant to be. Looking at the light on the ceiling while he scanned and scanned, I tried to push everything out of my mind but instead visualised scenes of a sexual nature. But it was okay, I was so shrivelled up and fearful of cancer that even if I wanted to, nothing was going to happen. A few more minutes passed, but it felt like an age. He prodded and scanned, scanned and prodded some more. There was a moment when I felt that something was wrong and that it was only going to be a matter of time before he gave me the bad news. But the bad news never came. I was handed a reprieve.

Overjoyed, I zipped myself up, and after thanking him and the woman who still wouldn’t look at me, I fled back down the maze of corridors until fresh air was in my lungs. Walking the streets listening to my music, I gravitated to the quarry and tasted the sun. Closing my eyes again, upon my lips were the paintings of Pollock and the words of Plath and the summers of my youth where the only things that mattered were creation and birth and the need to not be dragged down by the inconvenient hand of fate.

A Journal for Damned Lovers on

A Journal for Damned Lovers on

18 replies »

  1. And I’m sure you already know this-the lost futures get easier to contemplate but they never really leave us. What ifs revisit us at unpredictable times, sometimes in ways that can still take our breath away they are so painful. But I always feel like they should be.

  2. The remarkable high on getting a reprieve so stunningly and beautifully expressed. Wonderful write Stepen.

  3. I can still remember the moment when, lying on a bed with my shorts around my ankles and my junk lolling lifelessly about, the doctor said “and, if you don’t mind, I’d like a medical student to join us” and I said “sure” in a way that was supposed to be casual but probably sounded overly enthusiastic. Then I made the mistake of making eye contact with this poor young lady. It takes quite a lot to make me uncomfortable. So in an attempt to diffuse the situation, with a doctor lifting my penis this way and that and asking the girl to lean in for a closer look, I offered some humour. “This isn’t the sexiest pose ever.” No one laughed. They just kept talking about my doomed foreskin. If ever there was a moment that condemned my medical career it was this. Imagine trying to introduce humour and levity to someone with breast cancer.

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