The First I Heard of It

By on Nov 11, 2012 in Fiction, Humor

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Boy examined by doctor, with prescription to read, contemplate and write

Most of the nine months I should’ve spent in the third grade I spent in bed. 

On the first Friday in September of that school year, my mother got me and my brother up like she always does. Then she said she was keeping me home today. She didn’t say why, and I stopped asking after the look she gave the second time. I didn’t want to push her into one of her whacking moods. She didn’t seem to have any problem with Louis going to school though. He was in fifth grade at Cooperstown Elementary. He and I polished off our Lucky Charms and bananas, like we usually would, but neither of us said much, and he looked me in the eye maybe once. I was thinking he might know what was going on with Mom, but if he did, he wasn’t talking. 

The second Louis was out the door with his bag lunch, my mom told me to get dressed — we were going to the doctor’s.

I told her I didn’t understand, I felt fine. Then she gave me another look, so I left it at that. 

I did imagine that my dad would have jumped in at that point and gotten to the bottom of things and saved me. Assuming he hadn’t moved out over the summer, that is.

The oldest nurse in the world took my blood, which didn’t hurt, and, unlike all the crybabies I know, I never cared about getting poked like that anyway. Dr. Hill I knew from once or twice before, and he seemed okay. While he examined me in the examining room, my naturally inquisitive nature got the better of me.

“Is your nurse your grandma by any chance?” I asked him.

“Nurse Hill is my wife, actually,” he said.


His hand around my throat tightened a little bit, which I really couldn’t complain about, since he was doing that thing where they check for lumps. 

After he was done with the examining, Dr. Hill sent me out to my mom in the waiting room. A while later, he called my mother to the hallway. I’m sure they assumed I was all preoccupied as I flipped through the comic books in the waiting room, but these comics were 100% crap. Sorry, but no one — absolutely no one — has ever heard of a Dr. Jonas Salk, Superhero.

I tried to pick up on what Dr. Hill was whispering to my mom, but that’s the point of whispering, I guess. I tried to read their lips, but I always forget that lip-reading is a lot more difficult than people think. You try it for three seconds, and then you realize how impossible it is.

When we got to the car, my mom banged the steering wheel hard. She told me to put on my seat belt, and she started the car. Then she faked like she was in a good mood all of a sudden and asked if I wanted to get some Carvel. That was when I got scared. In our house, Carvel is a reward. And nobody I knew, especially my mother, had done anything lately that deserved rewarding — not to mention it was way too early in the day for ice cream.

The engine was going, but we still hadn’t budged.

“I thought Dr. Hill might be able to answer some questions,” my mom said. “That’s why we came today, Carl.”

“What questions?”

My mom brushed the hair out of my eyes. I was officially at the age when I hated stuff like that.

“Dr. Hill says you have a cold. Like a fever,” she said. “But it’s nothing bad. You’re going to be fine.”

She had turned away when she said that last part.

The weird thing was that I didn’t feel sick at all. And my mother knew that. So what was all this crud about a fever?

“Just tell me,” I said. “Enough is enough.” That last phrase was one of my mom’s favorite expressions. Me and my brother probably got it ten times a week. Though I wasn’t sure about me being allowed to use it. Adults can be touchy about things like that. 

I braced for impact. 

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Ron Darian is a TV network writer-producer whose credits include such award-winning TV series as "Mad About You,” "Frasier," and "Seventh Heaven." His fiction work has recently been nominated for both Pushcart and Kirkwood Prizes.