The Diagnosis – Sumbul Shahin

“Think of it as a miracle.” The harsh tube-light glinted off the doctor’s glasses, blinding him. “You can live to be a hundred.”

His face was inscrutable, his eyes vacant.

“You should have come back for the follow up.” The doctor smiled. “Another examination would have set you straight. There is always a thousand to one chance of a false positive.”

He nodded dully.

“The last five years must have been horrible, but at least now you don’t have to go about with a death sentence hanging over your head. You should be…”

“Thanks, doc.” He got up and walked out of the office.

The parking lot was noisy and strange. He walked as if an anvil had been strapped to his shoulders. The last five years had been an absolute bliss, free of all responsibility, but now… He went by his haphazardly parked car, without noticing.

The moment he was told of his impending death, he had decided to just enjoy the abject meaninglessness of life. He had done every conceivable drug, slept with everyone willing he could find, then settled down to a life of generalised gluttony. It would all have to be different now.

The stable rug of impending doom had suddenly been pulled from under his feet, and his whole world had crashed. There might be a beautiful hardwood floor of possibilities underneath, but at the moment he was much too busy trying to regain his balance.

He couldn’t hear the loud honking. There was no space in his mind to process sounds. The voices inside his head, so quiet for so long, had begun to screech in a loud chorus. He had to make plans for the rest for his life. There was a vague memory of wanting to be a lawyer. Surely, it was much too late now. Or could he still try? Did he want to?

He shook his head violently. There was no point trying to figure it all out. Right now, he had to at least try to celebrate. It was life. Whatever it might bring, he would be alive.

The loud trilling of the long queue of cars waiting for him to stop blocking the parking lot entrance, finally filtered through into his mind. He quickly got out of the way. Thoughts of uncertainties resurfaced again, but he quashed them. There was a bakery across the street. Maybe a dark chocolate pastry would help him appreciate the possibilities of staying alive. That’s what normal have-several-decades-to-live people did, right? They found the little joys in life.

He began to cross the street, still in a daze. Everything was fine after the first step. After the second, when he was nearly in the middle of the little street, he really should have started paying attention. He didn’t. As he took his third step, a speeding car knocked him down.

Surrounded by a growing pool of red, he laid crumpled up on the street. When the world became dark, there was a smile on his lips.

Sumbul Shahin has lived on three different continents and discovered that people everywhere are equally baffling. She now places imaginary people in improbable situations in hopes of gaining some insight. You can find her on Twitter @SumbulShahin.

Image via Pixabay

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