Dr. Gonzales seems to be so stressed out today. I pity him. Two death sentences in a row, huh? And that’s just for this morning. He’s still got a couple of patients lined up for this afternoon.
I’m grateful for my lunch break. True, I love working at the health centre. But there are days when things simply get too disheartening. I’m thankful for any form of escape.
My sister says she wants to meet up for lunch at the deli. She’s got some big news or something. I’m sure it can wait until tonight, but she tells me its urgent. I get a rain check from Dr. G. He gives me a nod and so I’m off.
The deli’s a ten-minute walk away from this block. I clomp through the street in my white clogs, white stockings, white dress suit, white cap… People could mistake me for a white lady but thankfully my rainbow umbrella gives just the right amount of colour to confirm my humanity.
Two little kids — a boy wearing a maroon waistcoat and a girl wearing a frilly navy dress (both were donning bunny ears by the way) — zip past me, causing me to dive umbrella-first into the dusty side walk.
Splotches of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet dance before my eyes. It takes a while before my sight goes back to normal again.
When it does, I realize that I’m not in the street going to the deli any more.
Oh no. Not again. I wonder how long this time travel thing will last this time. I decide to just enjoy the ride until I can get back to my sister and to Dr. G.
I’m at my old elementary school. The yellow concrete walls, the moss shillings, and the wide grey staircases are all too familiar. I half expect the witch-like face of my first grade teacher to peer at me from one of the dust-tinted windows.
Walking on, I see the seven-year-old version of my best friend crying at the corner. She’s in that spot near the staircase, where we (and another friend) would eat our packed lunches. I’ve done some time travelling before — I know they can’t see me — so I draw nearer. I kinda want to know what is going on.
“He died last night. I’m not even sure if we have any money for the funeral. Mama says I can take the week off school. But I already miss him. I already miss Papa a lot.”
“That’s so sadddd… Come here, let’s have a group hug.”
“Feel better? There, there. Don’t worry! When I grow up, I’m going to be a doctor! That way, I can keep all the people you love from dying!”
“Really? Yeah! I’m going to be a doctor, too! Or a nurse! Then we’ll all save lives together!”
The rainbow splotches return and, in an instant, I’m back on the curb, my colourful umbrella splayed before me.
Well. That was quick. But profound, nonetheless. That was the day my best friend and I decided to get into medicine. That was the day we decided what path our lives were going to take.
I shake my head, remembering the lives of the two people that Dr. G and I were unable to save that day. But as I dust off the gravel from my uniform, I realize one thing.
We may not have been able to save their lives, but we still have the opportunity to save more.
I glance at my watch. Sissy is probably already waiting for me inside the deli shop.