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A Controversial Decision.
Dear Friends, this is an article that I wrote for a competition recently. It was declined, the reason simply that it was not liked, and I hope you will comment truthfully once you have read it. I thank you in anticipation of a reply, but it is not my wish to put anyone under pressure. Annette x
Edinburgh sat back against the cold, unyielding framework of the park bench. Not even the panoramic beauty extending in front of her could encourage her to smile, a scene that Edinburgh had found such a comfort in the past. It was a vision of rolling green hills and undulating countryside for miles and miles, totally uninterrupted splendour. She bent forward and hunched over her feet, she tapped her feet to the sound of her heart beat and the tears in her eyes compromised her vision, and fell in droplets over her eye lashes and onto her new white sandals.
The afternoon was drawing in, and there was a chill in the air. Edinburgh pulled her red mohair cardigan firmly around her chest, and hugged herself tightly in the hope that she could get warm. Rubbing her arms vigorously, she shivered.
“Burr it has gone so cold, I don’t want to go home just yet. Please don’t force me to go home.”
She thought of Jonny, and how strong he had become. It was hard for her to believe that her baby brother was now twenty four years old, a grown man with a mind of his own. Jonny was a handsome man, in a rugged sort of way. He had a shock of curly red hair, and deep green eyes, which always twinkled and complimented his pale complexion. She sighed inwardly to herself as she remembered his freckles, little brown dots that came out in the sun. Oh, she loved him with every part of her being, but today she just wanted it to be all over. She could not find time in her day to listen to his complaints. Edinburgh just hoped that he had had a good day at work, and would come home in a happy mood.
Still sitting alone, she recalled that the hospital had been quiet this afternoon and Edinburgh found it incredulous that she had to wait so long before seeing the consultant. Hospital porters passed her by, some solemn, others with a cheery smile. The nurses returning from their afternoon tea, polystyrene cups still in hand, rushed by in small groups, eyes wide open as they gossiped about the new doctor on the ward.
“Why are hospitals so clinical, such unfriendly places?” she turned her attention to the pretty blonde sitting next to her.
Edinburgh glanced over to the receptionist, who caught her eye, and gestured with her arms how sorry she was for the delay. Edinburgh smiled back
”It isn’t your fault,” she hoped that her smile looked genuine, when all she wanted to say was,
“Damn, will you get a move on and tell him again that I have been waiting for over an hour now. These doctors really take the biscuit; a few letters behind their name doesn’t give them the right to take the ‘mickey.’
“Number 22, please proceed to the green area, surgery number one, the doctor will see you now.”
The nurse in the blue uniform glanced nonchalantly around the waiting room.
This is it, this is me, Edinburgh thought to herself, as she briskly followed the nurse to the designated area.
“Take a seat, Doctor will be with you shortly.”
Oh, yet another delay; Edinburgh looked around at the sea of faces, lonely faces void of any expressions. She thought to herself, not even a magazine to read, or a water dispenser to have a cold refreshing drink. If this is the NHS what am I paying my taxes for?
Edinburgh wondered if this was what her mother had faced so many years ago. She truly hoped not, not knowing was the worst of all. She felt so alone, as if she had a mountain to climb with no view from the top. A mountain that once scaled had no path of return. Edinburgh knew that she would have a decision to make, albeit depending on the doctor’s advice, and it would be one of the hardest decisions of her life.
“Edinburgh Chandler, come this way please,”
Edinburgh breathed a sigh of relief, smiled at the nurse, and meekly followed her into the consultation room. This room was all too familiar; she had sat in this room several times in the past. But, today the room had a renewed freshness as the sun shone brightly between the vertical blinds and left splashes of golden light around the walls.
However, instead of Mr Johnston waiting to greet her, she was met by a short lady with bleached blonde hair, who extended her hand warmly.
“Hello Edinburgh,” the voice was a smooth as milk chocolate. “I am Gloria, the cancer counsellor for Mr Johnston who will join us shortly. Can I offer you a cup of coffee?”
Edinburgh sat down in the chair with a resounding bump, as if her legs had been amputated at the knees. Wait, counsellor..... Cancer, why might I need a counsellor? Her thoughts were rushing around her mind now, and her heart was racing with the confusion.
“I don’t understand,” she barely whispered, her state of panic overwhelming her.
Gloria poured three cups of coffee, chattering all the time, words that escaped Edinburgh’s ears. Mr Johnston arrived and took his seat alongside Edinburgh, and Gloria passed the coffee over the table top to both of them. Edinburgh looked at them both in turn, Dr Johnston’s mouth was moving as if talking in slow motion and Edinburgh felt like she was in a goldfish bowl, looking out on the
scene with no understanding of the moment. She instinctively reached for her cup in a desperate hope that the coffee could help her to control her emotions.
“It isn’t as bad as you may think dear.” Gloria had taken Edinburgh’s hand in her own. “You are so lucky to have the choice.” Choice, .... Edinburgh just wanted to reach out and grab Gloria by the neck, don’t patronise me she thought, throwing a chilly look in Gloria’s direction; composure slowly returning to her.
Edinburgh turned her attention to Mr Johnston,
“How much time do I have?” She asked.
“Take as much time as you need,” Mr Johnston gently touched Edinburgh’s knee. “But the sooner you make your decision, the sooner you can live your life worry free.”
Slowly it all made sense now. Edinburgh rose from the park bench, and took a long lingering look at the panorama undulating in front of her. She took an intake of breath and allowed herself to exhale slowly. Picking up her red leather handbag, she suddenly realised how uncoordinated she had dressed today, and looking again at her new white sandals, she smiled.
She enjoyed the cool brisk walk home, and arrived at the front door just as Jonny was parking his car in the driveway.
“Hi sis,” Jonny held his hand up for a high five as he approached the front door. Edinburgh watched in silent amusement as Jonny followed his usual routine. He picked up the daily newspaper, threw his briefcase on the floor and hot footed it straight to the toilet.
Edinburgh opened a bottle of Shiraz; the assistant in the off license had assured her that the South African grape made a perfectly smooth tasting wine. Thick, full of blackberry overtones, and very easy on the palette; Edinburgh poured out two burgundy glasses of wine, and sat down at the dining table. Edinburgh had watched her father swirl wine around his glass many times in the past, noticing that the rich liquid slid elegantly around the rim of his glass without spilling a single drop, and she instinctively did the same.
“Hey, why the long face?” Jonny asked sitting down at the table to face her.
Edinburgh raised her head and gazed lovingly at Jonny’s face, before breaking into fits of laughter.
“I don’t have cancer Jonny, I don’t have cancer, and what do you think about that?” Edinburgh threw her head back, mouth wide open in raucous laughter, tears of happiness rolling down her silky white cheeks.
More solemnly now, “But I do have a choice to make.”
Edinburgh continued, “I don’t have cancer now Jonny, but I do carry the same risk as mum and granny in getting cancer in the future.”
Jonny looked at his sister with a genuine concern in his eyes. “I don’t understand Edinburgh,” he spoke quietly.
“I have a choice to make, Jonny. Do I have surgery or not? My choices are. Do I live the rest of my life in fear and apprehension of getting cancer when I am older, and going through the suffering that granny and mum went through? Or do I have the surgery now, so young, and live the rest of my life without the worry?
To Jonny the choice was obvious, but he didn’t answer, he waited for Edinburgh to continue.
“I am not strong enough to face what mum went through, Jonny. I can’t face the pain and utter torment of living my life like that. What ifs and maybe’s are no use to me. I have only one choice really. I am going to have the double mastectomy now.” Edinburgh paused, ”I have been told that the scars will be neat and tidy and kept to the minimum, and with the advance of plastic surgery these days, I can opt for breast reconstruction within six months after surgery. I am only young, and many people would disagree with my choice, mutilating my body, because that is what it is, having vanity surgery when it isn’t needed. Mum was strong and had a family to consider. I don’t have the same strength of character as she had. I want to open my arms as wide as I can and embrace life for all the riches that it contains.” Edinburgh laughed again.
“I am going to live Jonny, and I owe my decision to a very brave and beautiful woman who will remain forever my inspiration.” Edinburgh raised her glass “This is for you mum,” she threw her head backwards once again, and drank her glass dry before resoundingly putting it back onto the table.