in Featured/Stories/Stories and Poems

I just saw Dr. Mason. Now I know. It’s all happening too fast.

Just two weeks ago, I finished training for our town’s Volunteer Fire Department. That’s when we got a call. My first. A house on fire. Neighbors said there were still people in there. We went in as best we could through the smoke and pulled out a family. Father, mother, two kids. Then we went to work.

I got the little girl. Maybe five. Blue lips. I thought she was dead, but the Captain said to try to bring her back.

Such a small thing. I laid her out on the grass. She didn’t move. All limp. Like a doll.

I started mouth to mouth. My first time. Her lips…so cold. So, so cold. I could see her face turning blue. I was so close to her. But I kept on, like they taught us.

After twenty minutes, the Captain put his hand on my shoulder. It’s okay, boy, he said. She’s gone.

I couldn’t stop. I kept trying, mouth to mouth. Finally the Captain and another guy pulled me away. I stood there, shaking, trying not to cry.

Had I done something wrong? If I had done a better job, would that little girl still be alive?

I went home that night, but I couldn’t sleep. In the morning, the Captain called. The fire was arson. I asked him, who would burn down a house on purpose? Then the Captain said something that scared the hell out of me. He wanted me to go see Dr. Mason. I’m okay, I said.

Just do it, he told me.

So I did. I went to see Dr. Mason. I’ve known him forever. He delivered me when I was born if you want to know. That’s when I learned about the fire. How the family had set it. How they were sick with that new disease. You know, the one with the long name? They knew they had it, and they didn’t want it to spread. So they decided to die together.

How were we supposed to know?

It’s late now. My fever has started. I’m feeling sick. Weak. When Dr. Mason told me I had it too, he had a tear in his eye. He put his hand on my shoulder. Said he was sorry.

I don’t have much time left. It’s crazy. All I wanted was to help. All that family wanted was to keep the disease from spreading. We all tried, didn’t we? I think so.

Wouldn’t you have done the same thing?



Christopher Woods has published a novel, THE DREAM PATCH, a prose collection, UNDER A RIVERBED SKY, and a book of stage monologues for actors, HEART SPEAK. His photographs can be seen in his gallery - His visual prompt book for writers, is forthcoming from Propertius Press.

1 Comment

  1. – As well, I would have, “that new disease… with the long name!” Classic piece, that makes me think I’ve heard or read it before, even! – Duality, isolated in its whole!

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