“I learned a new word today – eldritch,” I said.
“What’s that – German?” he replied, with eyes glued to the mobile device in his hand.
“No, it means sinister.”
“Oh. In German?”
“No, in English.”
“Well, it sounds German to me.”
“What do you know?” I retorted. He shrugged.
He didn’t spare me a glance, as his fingers tapped on the screen deploying troops around an enemy camp.
“You’re supposed to company me, not play your silly game,” I stated.
“Read your book or something – learn more words,” he simply replied.
“Why are you even here?” I muttered. He shrugged again.
Grunting, I reached for Homer’s opus. It wasn’t my first read – I’d completed the acclaimed author’s oeuvre a week after my arrival. But in the wake of my disease, the book now sat fragile by my bedside table. And soon enough, its spine would give way – just like mine.
“I need a new book,” I stated, as I carefully pried the cover open.
“Same book?” he asked.
“I’ll tell the others.”
“Great – that’s the only thing you’re good for,” I said. As his habitual response, he shrugged once more.
He was immune to my unkind observations – he simply didn’t care. In fact, he didn’t want to be here. He clocked in once a week out of obligation. And I wish, oh how I wish, I could shoo him away – sparing us both the agony. Unfortunately, neither of us had a say. It was the vote of the majority to keep me company. The others thought it was fair to share the burden – the burden of my existence. So, there he was, scheduled to linger by my side all day.
“When’s the doctor coming?” he asked. “I’m supposed to report back.”
“Soon. But the doctor isn’t going to tell you anything,” I replied.
My doctor was a gentle, middle-aged woman, who’d yet to disclose the diagnosis of my illness. I, myself, wasn’t even made privy. And truthfully, I didn’t want to know. Still, it was funny how the others insisted on knowing. Everyday they would attempt to unearth the truth, and everyday they would fail.
“Nevertheless, I have to try. The others will ask if I did,” he said.
“Then put your phone down – she’s here,” I replied.
On schedule, in white robes pressed creaseless, my doctor strolled into my room. She wore a pleasant smile – one I’m certain was genuine. Seeing as she’d arrived, my Thursday companion shoved his phone into his pocket.
“What were you playing?” my doctor asked.
“Some game,” he replied.
“What’s it called? I’d like to give it a go,” she said.
“You won’t like it.”
“How would you know? I like games.”
“So you’ve said, one too many times.”
“Don’t be rude,” I snapped. And he shrugged.
My doctor merely held her smile, as she took a seat to my right – across from him. I was glad she sat across the others. I didn’t want them to hurt her. Among them all, she was the only person who cared beyond her own intentions.
“So, how are you today?” she asked.
“I learned a new word.”
“Eldritch. And apparently, it isn’t German.”
“No, it’s not.” She chuckled. “I learned a new word too – serendipity.”
“You didn’t know the word ‘serendipity’?”
“I did, but not its meaning. Do you know what it means?”
“I guess – I’m not sure.”
“It defines as finding something pleasant by chance. Have you found something pleasant by chance?”
“Would you like to find something pleasant by chance?
“You know I cannot tell you that.” My doctor leaned forward with an apologetic gaze.
“Because the truth is scary.”
“I’m not a child, doctor.”
“But Jane is a child.”
My doctor had a point – some truths weren’t for children. Who could guess the cause of nondisclosure was Jane? Perhaps she was why we weren’t told all these years.
“Jane wouldn’t need to know.”
“Do you think she won’t find out?”
“We won’t tell her.”
“But what if the others slip up?”
“Do you plan to keep it from us forever?”
“No, I don’t. Let me speak to Jane first, and then we can move forward.”
That day wasn’t the first day my doctor asked for Jane. Unfortunately, Jane wasn’t assigned a day. My doctor never spoke to Jane, because the wide-eyed, bubbly girl, never visited me. The others claimed she was too young – that it would upset her to see me bedridden. Yet, my doctor thought otherwise.
“You can’t speak to Jane.”
“Jane is the key to recovery. You shouldn’t keep her away.”
“Jane is a child. She cannot do anything.”
“You underestimate her.”
“You don’t know Jane.”
“Tick tock, tick tock,” my doctor said.
“I’m a little cuckoo clock,” she continued.
It sounded like a tease. Strangely, there was a familiarity that came with the seemingly random phrase.
“Tick tock, tick tock,” my doctor added.
“Now I’m chiming one o’clock.”
As though it was a spell, my world plummeted into darkness. Someone flipped the switch in my universe – it was the rhyme. The nursery rhyme. Still, not all my senses were lost – I could hear them… for the first time.
“Tell me the truth,” Jane said.
“Do you think you’re ready?” my doctor asked, in a loving, motherly manner.
“Yes. But you have to hurry.”
“The others don’t know I’m out.”
Cuckoo, eldritch, and serendipity were words given by The Shameful Narcissist. As someone who’s often curious about split/multiple personality disorder, those three words were an immediate prompt. So forgive me if this one is a little dark.
Now, it’s your turn. I challenge you to use this same three words to write a piece of your own. Please refrain from taking my route – it would be a bigger challenge to craft an uplifting tale. And, if you have 3 words you’d like me to string into a story, be sure to leave them in the comment section below!
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2017 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)