Friday, July 9

Friday Fiction: Turnabout

Thanks for stopping by on Fiction Friday! My offering today is one of my early pieces. It earned me 3rd place in Level 1 of the Faithwriters Writing Challenge back in 2006, bumping me from Beginners to Intermediates. I hope you enjoy!


"Strike! Oh yah!" Anna danced in jubilance when her neon orange bowling ball hit the sweet spot and sent all ten pins tumbling down. She returned high fives and grins from her cheering friends. Friday night out with "the girls" was just what Anna needed after the week she'd been through.

The shrill interruption of her beeper caused her spirit to nosedive. For the first time since being named attending at Mercy General, the sound of pager on her hip depressed Dr. Anna Cowart. She had lost three patients this week Three! And now her "services" were needed again. She reluctantly picked up her cell phone and dialed the hospital's number.


Anna pocketed her keys. Usually, the sight of her trusty Camry parked in the hospital lot behind the sign reading:  RESERVED FOR DR. ANNA COWART would be enough for pride and fulfillment to swell Anna, reinforcing her decision to sacrifice family, sleep, and nutrition in order to follow this path. Today, though, even the comforting sight of her hard-earned car in her well-deserved spot couldn't lift her out of this pit she had fallen into.

"I wonder whose life is depending on me?" After losing Mr. Nichols yesterday, Anna had all but decided to hang it up. Self-deprecation was triumphing over her desire to save lives, change lives. After the week she'd had, Mr. Nichols had been the last straw. She was ready to quit. "What good am I doing? I've made a huge mistake."


"Ma'am, my name is Dr. Cowart."

"You call me Miss Beth, now, ever'one does."

Anna melted at the warmth in her patient's quavering voice. Miss Elizabeth Murphy had had the misfortune of stepping out of the market just as a local boy whizzed by on his new skateboard. In addition to countless broken bones in her frail, aged, body, "Miss Beth's" skull had fractured when her head thumped the concrete sidewalk.

Anna's heart's burden wrestled with Miss Beth's infectious joy. She kept one ear tuned to the constant stream of jargon flowing from the nurses and interns as she examined Miss Beth.

" Do you know where you are?"

"Why I reckon I'm in a hospital. Least ways it shore sounds like one. Glad to know they put a female doctor in charge of me, I am.

"Can you tell me your name?"

"Ain't bin called nothin' but Miss Beth for years now. But I'us christened Elizabeth Margaret Murphy, if'n that's what you mean." Miss Beth's green eyes twinkled with merriment, but Anna didn't like the unfocused stare and the dilated pupils.

This lady could have passed for Anna's own sweet grandmother, five years gone now. Concern seeped into her professional doctor voice. "You've been hurt badly. Is there anyone we should call?"

"Oh, no. Never did marry. I bin by myself for many a year, an' I done alright, upta now." She chuckled even as her voice wavered.

I can't do this any more. What good is it when death is the result? Why again? Why can't I save her? Anna life's dream lay shattered. Today she would turn in her resignation. Miss Beth would the last person to die at her hands.

"Dr. Cowart!"

Yanked back from her journey into herself, Anna focused on her team in the trauma room again. "One cc epi." Her eyes blazed with fervor; she resolved to make a difference somehow.

Miss Beth warbled, "Doc, forgive me, but you seem a might down an' distracted 'bout sumpthin'.

At death's door she senses that? How can she be worry about me right now? Anna administered the injection but still Miss Beth's vital signs continued to faltered..

Miss Beth's trembling voice began to fade. "I ain't got long, now. No, don't try an' patronize me. I kin tell. Listen up, this is important. There's sumpthin' I need ta tell you afore I leave this wrinkled ole body

"I bin blessed with a gift for readin' people. I kin tell when sumpthin's botherin' a person, an' if'n the Good Lord sees fit I kin figger out what. Now, I'm pretty shore you bothered at the idea a my passin' on yore watch."

Miss Beth could barely produce a hoarse whisper at this point. Anna leaned closer.

"Ever' day, circumstances is throwed at us. Sometimes you kin see 'em commin' atcha from a ways off. Those is things you kin try'n head off. But comes times when sumpthin' jus' jumps atcha unexpected like, an' all the good deeds an' good intentions in the world ain't gonna stave it off. Those things is God's will, and it ain't no use fightin' Him.

"I know you doin' yore best ta try an' save me, that's yore callin'. I'm shore you a fine doctor, but you gotta realize sumpthin'--you ain't God. If'n He's decided ta call me home, why then, I'm ready ta go."

Miss Beth wheezed one last contented breath, and as the monitor's beeping became a solid whine, Anna began to rethink her decision.

© 2006

PatteringsWe'd love you to join us for Friday Fiction!
Our host today is Patty Wysong, aka Peej, aka Peejers, at her wonderfully encouraging blog, Patterings. Pop on over and add a link to your own fiction, or just spend some quality
reading time.

Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)