“Everything has come back as perfectly normal Mr Arnold, so there really is no need to worry.”
Nathan could feel a familiar itch tap-dancing in his stomach. It was stirred by the flippant tone that all medical professionals seemed to take when addressing his condition. He took a deep breath. Knowing full well that if he didn’t steady himself he would run the risk of bringing another migraine on. A migraine would almost definitely increase the clenching pain on the right-hand side of his lower back. It had begun throbbing from the moment he had set foot in the doctor’s surgery. Everything was connected. That’s what his mum always said. Especially if you had a condition as severe as Nathan Arnold.
“With a balanced diet and regular exercise you’ll live a long and illuminating life.” The young doctor continued with a relaxed grin, brushing his long dirty-blonde hair behind his ear.
Is he allowed to be a GP with hair like that? Nathan asked himself. The hair had been worrying him as much as his throbbing back. How could he trust the medical opinions of a man who looks like he’s fallen out of a MTV show and into a stethoscope and white coat?
“Are you sure you’ve tested everything, it’s the ones they miss that get you, you always hear about it, undiagnosed this and should have caught it sooner that, and then bam. Dead in the night and your body isn’t found until Christmas and they have to identify you by your dental records.” Nathan’s verbal toboggan careered uncontrollably. His heart surged to keep up with his sentence as the Doctor’s brow furrowed, over handsome dark eyes and a small smile crept at his wide, full mouth. It was the look you gave a child whose nonsense you were humouring. Nathans outrage stuck in his throat and derailed his outburst.
“Mr Arnold, I assure you we have performed every test in the book, in every book. You are perfectly healthy. You know better than most that anything could happen. Go out and enjoy your life. You have nothing to worry about.” His tone was firm but gentle. He had seen Nathan’s medical records. That meant he knew perfectly well that Mr Arnold had been for eighteen check-up’s at seven different medical facilities in the last eight months alone. He had stopped reading the file there, fairly confident that he knew what kind of patient he was dealing with. And exactly why he had been foisted onto him. The new guy always gets handed the shitty stick first, and this perfectly healthy twenty-two year old man, with the thick collage of brown hair, sullen dull hazel eyes and pasty skin, was one hugely shitty stick to be handed right before your lunch break.
“Then why do I feel like this?” His anguish flashed in the face of the facts. He raised a hand to his prematurely lined forehead and massaged the bridge of his thin nose unconsciously.
“Nathan, with no physical symptoms on display I think we need to seriously consider the possibility that your condition may be of a more… psychological nature. I believe the best course of action would be referring your case to…”
“I’m not mad.” Nathan spat, on a wave of emotion that started at his feet and rumbled through him at shuttle launch velocity. The itch was back. He hardened, recoiling into the back of the chair that he had only perched on the edge of until this moment. He had known that the doctor would eventually send this accusation his way. That voice in the back of his head suggested it often enough. He had lived this scenario several times before and had played it out in his head more times than he could count. Maybe you are mad. That ever present, ever useful voice offered again. The pain was real. The emotion was real. The fear was real. He was not going mad. All he needed was medical science to diagnose him as dying to prove it.
“No you aren’t mad Nathan, you’re completely right.” Doctor Adams selected his words very carefully. He was already late for lunch and it was hard enough to get a patient to accept help they didn’t want when you were fully fuelled and match fit. A long silence hung between the two of them. Nathan shifted restlessly in his seat while Dr Adams weighed out his words.
“All symptoms, or lack thereof, suggest, medically speaking, that your condition may be psychosomatic. You Are Not Mad.” The Doctor continued in a more assertive tone seeing that Nathan had braced to counter attack. “You are ill Mr Arnold, just not in the way that you think.” The acknowledgement of an illness seemed to relax the patient slightly but he still remained coiled as a jack in the box. “Please allow me to do my job and get you the help that you need.” He attempted one last turn of the handle.
An intense wait followed. Then jack sprung loose from the box.
“No… No thank you Doctor…” Nathan bounded off his chair, features set like a child statue that had seen one too many storms, refusing to meet the Doctors eyes.
“Adams…” Concluded the Doctor, resignedly watching his patient flee his office, struggling his simple red mac over his slim frame as he went.
“Thank you for your time but your services are no longer required there is somewhere very important I need to be and I’m late as it is…” Nathan was still speaking in a gapless language as the door slammed shut behind him.
We’ll be seeing him again. Jacob thought letting loose a lion yawn. And still two minutes for lunch. What magnificent luck. No sooner had he peeled the lid off his small plastic lunchbox did his office door swing open. It was his next patient. Stifling a sigh he stowed his lunch away in his desk again, snatching a longing glance at his sandwiches as the draw swung shut. Then managing to steal a much less longing glance over the patient files he worked out what was in store for him next.
by Jack Price
Nathan Arnold is a perfectly healthy 22 year old man, whose life is constantly hindered by debilitating by illnesses and pain’s. The doctors cannot find anything physically wrong with him and he refuses to believe that it is all psychological. Returning home to be closer to his sick mother the truth about both Nathan’s condition and painful past is discovered as a series of bloody murders stalk him down memory lane. Sceptic or believer, innocent or guilty, the lines are blurred as the reader and protagonist are invited to make a choice.