Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Harrison Abbott

They say it will rain today.

You wake up before the alarm clock. The GP opens at nine and you wake up shortly after seven.

When you open the curtain, a sheen of grey light spreads across the room. There are blotchy clouds in the sky, threatening rain. The weather report said it would be raining at this point in the morning. It’s not. Weather reports always seem to be wrong, even though they hail from the grand dictation of the internet.

You read a paperback skimpily until it gets to 8 a.m. Need to bounce down to the GP.

The Doctors is down at the bottom of the road, a mile away. It’s where Arthur Conan Doyle used to live and so they call it, now, the ‘Conan Doyal Medical Centre’. The council bulldozed the house where Arthur lived, knocked it down about seven years back. It wasn’t where he grew up or anything, just where he stayed for a while. So they wanted to channel a little fame for the new Doc building.

As you venture down the main roads with the cars and trucks and buses hurtling by, you wonder what this trip to the doctor will mean for your future health. You’ve thought that you have been young your entire life … but, maybe this hasn’t been the case for quite some time. And, what are you, exactly? You used to think you would be This or That, by now. And where are you going right now? Well, to some health experts – to get a blood test. This doesn’t sound like somebody that fits in with your age bracket.

Very near to the GP building is your old primary school; where you learned hate and defeat and being laughed at by the kids and publicly humiliated by the teachers; and where top grades in every subject didn’t quite seem to matter much; where you sucked up the yore of sport on the tinny grimy grass under those trees; where you fancied the girl with the yellow hair, who, when you finally told somebody about your crush, the boy went and told everybody else, and then everybody else went and teased you about it.

But, that’s what school is for, right? It’s supposed to teach you math and language, the basics. The more-important other things are designed to leave you bitter; lesson you in what other people are actually like.

The GP building gives off no vibes whatsoever. It’s not characteristic in any way and has no visual atmosphere of medicine or of redemption. Nothing. No spooky Sherlock fables to be unearthed herein.

You go up to the reception desk and there are women sitting there who are neat and nifty with their typing and their telephones; and they make you wish you could be as laid back as they are in likewise environments; considering that you’re such a wreck in normal environments; that you find everyday things difficult in ways that most people don’t. And people seem to lap up your gory embarrassed face whenever this happens. They suck the redness in your cheeks.

“Okay,” the lady in front of you says, “just take a seat in the waiting area.”

The waiting area is an oval area with these fancy circular benches. There is a man with his kid. A little girl. The man is handsome, over six foot, with tough facial hair – and his daughter is playing with one of those cube toys. What do you call them? The wire toys with the cubes that you push along the wire. ‘Bead Mazes’.

You used to love playing with them when you were small. The man/father talks on his phone whilst the daughter plays. You wait ten minutes in the area and the father doesn’t say a single word to the daughter, only speaks on his phone, with his expensive jeans and leather shoes.

Until this new chap enters the scene and he calls your name.

You stand up, saying, “Yes, that’s me.”

The new chap wears blue overalls and he’s three quarters the size of you and maybe twenty years older, and, yet: he’s not the one needing blood tests – you are. A nice man. Sure; he’s pleasant to you when you go into this little room and sit across from him.

“Have you ever had your blood taken before?” he says.

“A very long time ago. When I was a kid.”

And you say the line quickly and without hesitation … and you actually think, after you’ve said it, that you’ve never given blood before, but you just said that lie anyway and you don’t know why you lied.

The nurse man is kind and soft. He brings out this bar of rubber. After he’s asked you to take off your shirt and have your arm exposed [and what a skinny, pathetic arm it is; within the bare light of this tiny room. Sickly white skin with the pulpy blue veins]. He squeezes the rubber band around the chunk of muscle above your elbow and ties a knot there. The pressure makes your veins fat. It reminds you of the film Trainspotting (1996) – and whilst you loved this movie all your life, you wonder how crazy it is that you ever brought yourself to a similar point. How did you get to this stage?

There are three needles – to pull out three doses of blood. The nurse man gets to work. The first needle goes in with a short stab. Which isn’t sore aside from a prickly millisecond. Then once the syringe is inside your bloodstream, he pulls back the plunger. And you hear the blood scoosh up into the tube. Even though it’s a frail amount, the volume of your own bodily liquid is quite sublime. And this is somebody who always hated gore in films, who never liked horror movies, or slapstick bloodbaths in cartoons. And then you have to do it two times extra, in real life: the needle going in to your arm and the blood swallowed into this forensic implement.

That’s your own blood being taken out of you and the samples are going to be sent off to a laboratory and you will have to wait on the good or bad news.

“That’s it all done,” the nurse chap says. “How are you feeling?” He takes the rubber band off of you and you say, “I’m good.”

He puts a plaster on the shiny red bobble on your arm. He tells you that you dealt with the session well.

You then thank him for his time. And, you mean it. Doctors and nurses are total champions – among the best people – and you often try to be a good man, like them, but you also don’t have the same hero grace about you.

All you have now is the jaunt back through the GP atrium. The father and daughter aren’t there anymore. You say bye to the receptionist ladies and then you are out in the thick daylight again. The clouds, far above you, miles high in the sky, are shy to burst, despite looking so purple and angry. The nurse said to you that you would have to wait “Up to 10 days” to hear back on the blood test results.

And therefore you have over a week, wondering whether there is anything dodgy with your blood. That B word that you don’t want to think about; that you rely on to keep you alive.

You head back up the main road. It’s a little quieter now, because the work and school traffic are finished with. Most people are at work or in school or they’re retired or unemployed or have the day off work or they live on their own little island of loneliness and fear – just like yourself.

As you walk, you feel a little tap on your hair. And you look up. And then around at the street. Where these dots of thin light flash. Water. It’s raining. The clouds have annexed their stubbornness. Blam blam, the rainclouds flush. The hot proud violence of the rain – you welcome it with gusto. You’re still alive to witness this mini deluge on this side of the city. You’re alive. At this moment, you have your heartbeat: even though your body may be on the brink. You can witness the gaudy glorious rain all the same.

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