Thirty-four hours and one needle submerged in the spine later, the doctor tells her patient to push.
“Yes! Yes! More! More!” She chants and suctions.
A gurgling cry. “Look at all that hair!”
Kneading at the freshly emptied womb, she pauses.
She steels herself and calls for four units.
Joree writes professionally in her role as director of external affairs for a statewide nonprofit, but her favorite muses are her two-year-old son and her tender memories.
It’s like the riddle. Three doors; two lead to certain death.
Door One: A mother, breath rasping, crying for her children.
Door Two: A feverish teenager, too exhausted to beg for help.
Door Three: A pensioner, grey-haired but agile, coughing continuously.
Hands shaking, you tighten your mask, open a door.
Jo Withers writes short fiction from her home in South Australia. Recent work appears in NFFD Anthology (U.K.), Best Microfictions 2020, Reflex Fiction and Spelk.
“Andrea has it all.”
The new resident frowned at the impudent post-it stuck to his privileged patient’s chart. Scanning down her long list of conditions, his eyebrows rose in final understanding: not impudence.
Below the remark was his colleague’s recommendation: “This one’s for the med. journals. Hope you write fast!”
Laurie Hall is a native Californian transplanted to New England. She currently lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In addition to her pro-conservation Op-Eds, she has had several short stories published, some under her pseudonym, Lauren Stoker. Her recent publications include: “Hogging the Hooch” (Hedgehog Poetry Press in the U.K.); “Snack Service” (The Arcanist); “Pledging Allegiance,” “Parable,” and “Spring Cleaning” (Page & Spine).
“I’ll take my lunch later,” I told my head nurse.
I held Betty’s hand while her breathing slowed to almost nothing. Her family hadn’t visited in weeks.
“It’s okay. You can go now. He’s waiting for you.”
I smoothed her hair, and she relaxed as she took her last breath.
Catherine McAllister loves her work as an emergency room nurse and also enjoys teaching nursing students. She has two lovely daughters, three lively dogs, and a supportive husband. She writes in her free time.
Surgeons can spend up to twelve hours working in the operating theatre. Strange indeed to call that “theatre.”
Or perhaps it’s merely human nature to adopt a pastime that sounds like glory on the mountaintops when all we ever do is hope that we can make it through the hardship.
Living in a mid-sized town at a hipster shop was nice for Isaiah, but he’s happy to try his hand at working in the big city! But now things are getting tedious. Writing is always a good hand, no matter the game. Though that might not hold up in Texas Hold ‘Em, which Isaiah is practising.
The doctor looks at me with sad eyes.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that,” I gulp.
“I know I’ve been cheating death for too long. But doc, don’t tell me my time’s up when I’m just learning how to live.”
“Well,” he says, “it’s me who’s dying, not you.”
Sharon is a communications strategist and storyteller for companies ranging from technology start-ups to Fortune 500s. When she isn’t wordsmithing for her clients, she writes flash fiction and short stories and is also working on a novel, The Tiger Baby. She has a masters of professional writing degree from the University of Southern California and has been published in EastLit, Ethos International, and Reed Magazine, among others. Follow Sharon at Twitter or Instagram at @sharonysim.
The handsome patient grinned. “What’s wrong with me, doc?”
Ignoring her aching feet—and his devastating smile—Maria checked his vitals. Normal. How odd. “Must be a virus. Rest. Drink liquids. You’ll get better.”
“But it’s so strange.” Gently, he touched her arm. “Everything glows.”
Then… she saw it too.
Joanne R. Fritz lives in West Chester, PA and writes poetry and fiction for children and adults. When she wrote this story, she’d been suffering from a mysterious virus that lasted six weeks. Her vitals were normal but she experienced constant vertigo. She wished the virus had been the glowing kind instead.
Doctor Lorne Calder returned home to meet with Bert Ryan, a carpenter he’d hired to complete renovations at his home. Upon entry, he noticed a flaw in the foyer.
“You’re a master carpenter? Just look at that!” Calder complained.
“It’s easier for you,” replied Ryan. “You bury all your mistakes.”
Paul Finnigan is an Ottawa-based writer who has a collection of short fiction that has appeared in both Canada and the United States. Some previous publishers of his work include Boston Literary Magazine, Feathertale, Polar Expression Publishing, and Every Writer the Magazine.
“You believe in them?”
“Rubbish, there is no such thing as superheroes!”
The speeding truck that crushed him got away.
“Only a miracle can save him,” they said.
Five hours later:
“Operation successful,” said the young surgeon.
“I take back my words,” he said when he came to.
Andy believes in keeping her bio shorter than fifty words for this one. To follow her mischief, click on www.andypaula.in.
“Frederick, your bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired.”
He turned to encounter Miss Stone, aged some, but sharp-tongued as ever.
“Your patient is my twin sister who fell ill yesterday.”
“B-B-But,” he stuttered.
“You thought it was me in the wheelchair?” she interrupted.
“Two of them?” he thought.
John B Sinclair is a much-travelled Scot who has now returned to Scotland, where he enjoys freelance writing on a variety of subjects.
Editor’s Note: This story is a sequel to Payback.