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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Circumstances force a beautiful young woman with a withered arm since birth, to decide whether to amputate or keep the arm.

Submitted: October 10, 2016

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Submitted: October 10, 2016




 A Short Story in Two Chapters

Nicholas Cochra

Chapter Two


Jack remained in close contact with the insurance defense lawyer, Cal Mendellson.

Following his receipt of Dr.Johnson's notes, Jack only spoke to Cal about Mary’s amputation. He rarely discussed damages. 

Cal was a seasoned litigator for the insurance industry who Jack knew would be fully aware of the significant loss of enjoyment of life damages adhering to Mary’s case. 

In addition, Jack was confident that Cal would outline the insurance company’s full exposure to them in granulated detail.

As Mary’s day for surgery crept closer, both Jack and Dr. Johnson arranged their schedules to make room for hours of visitation with Mary to assess her mental and emotional moods relating to the impending loss of her arm.

Although Mary Morrison could draw from an unnaturally deep well of good spirits, optimism, and humor, her underlying fear and depression broke through her brave veil of courage on several occasions while talking with either Jack or Doctor Johnson.

She was inescapably terrified.


During the day of Mary’s surgery, Jack paced, checked and re-checked his watch, and called Dr. Johnson.

“Well, Doctor, today the chisel hits the granite; when do you plan to visit Mary?”

“Good morning, Jack. Well, it is indeed that time. You know, I had a very odd dream last night. It revolved around our case; Mary’s case. But I don’t want to tell you about it because it would effect both you and your relationship with Mary. I am going to remain mysterious and just leave it at that.

“At any rate, I think I should give her at least a week or so before I interview her again although I might drop by just to say hello and hold her hand. 

"She is such a wonderful young woman. Ah well, I’m happily married—as are you, but were it not for that, maybe, eh young Jack?”

Jack was totally unprepared for the libidinous remarks, or any sexual innuendo spoken by his friend.

All he could manage was: “Oh?”

“Yes ‘oh’, Jack; or are you really as happily married as I hear?”

No hesitation this time. “Yes, Doctor, I really am. Perhaps it’s a ‘forest and the trees’ situation. “As you know, MM—Mary—and I were nearly knee to knee for a few years in the PD’s office. I won’t say she was like a big sister but our relationship never had any reason to escape the boundaries of platonic,” smiling to himself, “I had no idea, Doctor . . .” He released a genuine laugh.

“Well, Counselor, even psychiatrists have stirrings now and then.” Doctor Johnson joined Jack in laughter and they then bid each other au revoir after Doctor Johnson promised to call Jack with any first impressions.

After disconnecting from Doctor Johnson, Jack held his phone by his side as his thoughts suddenly became unmoored. A blankness; a type of mental white noise, pushed all thoughts from his consideration and yet prevented any new thoughts from entering to fill the void.

Something Lionel said tickled a surprise reaction deep in the recesses of Jack’s awareness. However, that was it; only a tickle. The void persisted for a few more moments before a flood of details from his criminal cases overwhelmed the barriers of the void and filled it with immediate concerns.

Jack was finishing dessert after another premier dinner prepared by his wife, Amanda, the architect, when his cell phone rang.

Jack half-stood to take the iPhone from the sideboard and quickly looked at the number.

“Hi Doctor, que pasa?”

“I think you should sit down for this one, Jack. Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Sitting down?”

“Well, yes; I didn’t know you meant it literally. But I am; which case?”

Jack knew that he and his partners had at least eighty criminal cases and that Doctor Johnson was assisting on at least twelve of them.

“Mary’s case; Mary Morrison.”

Jack could feel his throat closing and he gulped.

Later, when he recalled the moments before Doctor Johnson began speaking, Jack described them to Amanda, his partners, and—over time—to hundreds of others.

He began by telling them that his initial emotional reaction was one of fear. However, he quickly explained that his fear was not of a personal nature; rather one more detached, unthreatening; perhaps clinical.

Jack then stated that he somehow knew what his friend was going to tell him. He could not suppress a smile, despite the shocking content of the doctor’s call.

In those nanoseconds before Lionel resumed speaking, Jack felt a giant shift in his core; as though a new discovery had been made; a veil lifted from his eyes; a life ‘transition’ was about to occur.

He also knew that the tickle that he had earlier experienced, the one deep in the recesses of his awareness, was that DoctorLionel Johnson found Mary sexually attractive in spite of her having a very ugly arm.

Jack immediately accepted the possibility that MM could be even more attractive to Lionel without an ugly arm. 

“Well, my friend, your case has tanked; Mary’s case—at least the damages aspect that we have been discussing for so many weeks has.”

He paused and collected a large breath before he answered Jack’s unspoken questions.

“Mary Morrison is a completely different person now. She has immediately become genuinely cheery, optimistic . . . and relieved. She is legitimately happy for the first time in her life.

“That arm was a curse, an albatross. Whatever, or however you want to label it or classify it, her left arm has been dragging her down both physically and mentally all her life.

“Emotionally, she was in danger of a complete breakdown at some future date, when all realistic hope of deep loves, marriage, children—even a carefree life, cratered.”

He stopped to gather some more thoughts. Jack jumped in.

“You know, Lionel, this does and doesn’t surprise me,” sighing, “MM is such an up person that we could see that she was making the best of it with her withered arm and its repelling condition. But it was clear that underneath it all she was upset and thoroughly discouraged.”

“Just so, Counselor. Now her attitude is one of complete openness:

Here I am, world, and I have only one arm.

“Well, Jack, I’ll see her again in a week or so and check out her mental and emotional condition at that time. But for the moment, I’ll not put anything in writing and I’ll shred my notes from before the amputation.”

Jack hesitated before answering; then, “Okay Doctor. I’ll just roll with whatever emerges from your examinations down the road. I know I should be very unhappy with your call—your findings, but I’m not. I’ll go and check on MM tomorrow; probably around lunch hour. "Maybe I’ll see you there. If not, I’ll certainly give you a call with my impressions.”

“All right, Jack. I’ll be seeing you.”

LionelJohnson disconnected and Jack spent the next hour talking with Amanda about how he should approach Mary to be sure to get her sincere feelings about the whole matter.


Hi Mary.” Jack approached Mary while she lay propped on pillows in her hospital gown.


She was neatly groomed and wearing perfect make-up. Her smile told Jack everything he needed to know.  

While they talked, Jack made mental notes to tell Doctor Johnson.

During the years of close quarters with Mary, Jack had never seen her so thoroughly alive.

She was beautiful. She looked like an angel in her hospital gown.

He held her hand while they talked for over an hour about all her happiness, her plans, her new life.

“And, Jack,” with a fake grimace, “I told you you’d come up with a great idea.”

Then Mary Morrison laughed so genuinely, so thoroughly, so irrepressibly, so happily.


At a later meeting that morning with Lionel Johnson, Jack confessed to not noticing the lack of an arm until at least twenty minutes into his lively conversation with Mary.

“Together at the PD’s office she was MM—Mary Number One; now, with MM Number Two, I have never seen her so animated and—as you told me, Lionel—brimming with optimism; she is just not Mary Number One anymore. Astonishing.”

The two men talked with great cheer for half an hour before leaving to take up their separate crosses.

Jack went back to visit Mary, if only to convince himself that his former friend and colleague, MM #1, had departed.

In her place was the same tall, witty, sophisticated and intelligent woman—who was now glamorous. In addition, the new model brimmed with unbridled optimism, clear purpose, and a thousand plans into which she poured all her hopes as well as all her essence—minus an arm.

Immediately following his return home and a long series of kisses with his wife, Jack told her of the stunning conclusion to the saga of ‘Mary Morrison’s arm’.

They both shed many tears of happiness, happiness for another human being delivered from despair and now overflowing with new opportunities for a rich, full, life.

Within a year, Mary Morrison married a law professor.

Two years later, she delivered the first of her five children.

After three years, she successfully ran for congress.

Today, MM, as Jack continues to refer to her, is Chairperson of the Committee taking up the task of improving the lives of disabled persons, especially children.

Jack and Amanda, as well as Lionel and Patrice Johnson, continue to remark on the irony of a person like Mary, who, while working to assist those with disabling conditions, is the glaring example of a disability vanishing along with a limb. 

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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