Bad Luck

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Review Chain
Short story/descriptive essay for high school.

Submitted: August 19, 2017

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Submitted: August 19, 2017

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“First— don’t touch anything blue. Second— don’t lock your knees. Third— if you’re going to vomit do so outside,” a surgical nurse instructed as she led me into the OR to watch an emergency procedure.

I took my place over the doctor’s shoulder— taken aback with shock— the patient had a gun wound. His bulky arm dangled from the edge of the operating table—disfigured from two holes burrowing through layers of skin and mangled muscle: entry and exit paths carved by the bullet that shattered his right humerus before ricocheting back out.

The sheen of fluorescent lighting hollowed the cheeks and eyes of the nurses— reducing the living to the pallid colors of a corpse. However, the lights could not disguise the dark hue to the patient’s skin—  minority. His body showed signs of obesity, his arm was scarred from previous injuries and decorated with ink— telltale signs of a rough life.

I strained my ears to catch pieces of his story from the whispers of the nurses, “Shot...on the corner...preaching...lucky to be alive...his brother shot in the jaw and flown...Los Angeles...helicopter...”

I stood silent. Hours passed until the man had eight incisions across his arm— thick crimson streams rolled from each one and collected in a puddle by the doctor’s feet, staining his shoe covers. He was struggling to screw a plate into the patient’s fragmented bone— his curses growing more frequent and voice rising in fearful frustration as things went wrong— as bone broke screws and pieces of bullet moved further out of reach.

Although medical technicalities slip through my ears, my mind does not forget emotion—  does not forget detail. I felt tension building like static before a thunderstorm, rising bile. The nauseating scent of burning flesh and the metallic stench of blood, smells so thick they taste. I noticed the flustered pink of the doctor’s skin, the sheen of perspiration along his forehead, the almost undetectable cracking in his voice— host to panic. Nurses’ pupils sharpened with urgency. Used instruments piling up like fresh caught sardines— gleaming silver shapes slick with blood and debris. The shrill beep of the heart monitor, the whirl of metal grinding into bone— dry and dusty. Shedding yellow gloves as fingers turn red. Needle after needle of anesthetic drugs, six hours ticking away. Blood clumping and clotting like tar— thickening in layers and drying to black. Tubes of fluid curling and coiling around the floor, slithering into the patient. Transfusion. Slipping— slicing an artery, the red sea welling up. Confused and thawed movements of the doctor. The negative space between x ray images swallowing all else.

The clock ticked by past my curfew— but I was glued to floor, melted into the very walls of the room, waiting for some sort of closure. A sense of accomplishment.

It never came...six hours of painstaking labor and there was nothing but frustrated defeat, an angered and embarrassed doctor storming through double doors, a bullet still beneath skin, three crooked screws in bone, an inconveniently repaired artery, 8 holes sew shut, bad luck— the patient would have been better off in Los Angeles with his brother.

 


© Copyright 2017 J. KATE. All rights reserved.

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