[Varayne] A Letter to my Father

There have been many days like this day, yet I am at a loss.

I stood and watched, powerless to stop the ebb of her heartbeat, the slowing of her pulse, and cursed myself seven times a fool for my failures. There are no words in a book that could have helped me stop what was ultimately inevitable. Death comes for us all, and my patient was no exception to the rule. Entropy is an emperor with greedy, cunning hands and a patient smile.

This time, it was no case of the Knahaten Flu, which claims its victims without apparent prejudice. Nor was this a case of natural degradation of the body’s scheme and structure, old age giving shade at long last to that spark which inhabits our flesh. She had lived the most solid years of her life, but many more lay ahead of her, if only –

I have done things which might seem impossible to those who don’t understand them. For years, I have bent my mind to the study of anatomy, to the art of vein and bone and soft tissues, to the understanding of the viscera that rests inside our skins.

They have sent me children wasting away from esoteric disorders; they have sent their elders to me to stymie the flow of time, and these I could help. I have worked surgeries and magics in such concert that there are those who say I am gifted by the Gods themselves – such works that even I have wondered, at times, if they might not be right.

But every physician must bow before death. There are those who will not live to see the sun rise again. The darkness inevitable, and no mortal can escape it.

There have been many days like this day, yet I am at a loss.

For all my years of erudition, for all the praises that have been heaped on my works, this patient’s spark is a dead coal growing cold in my office, and there was nothing I could do.

So simple; so deadly. There are many who survive blunt trauma to the head with little difficulty for it – a lump, a concussion, but they’re okay. Not so this time, however. The angle was just right, the force strong enough and the placement at the skull’s apex…

I did what I could for her. It might have been enough, under other circumstances. But even if it had been, the brain was already damaged; she might not have survived once the swelling went down. It was probably too late to save the patient’s mind and motor function.

I was so careful, so precise. I did everything the way it should have been – the skull gave way in perfect symmetry, as I had meant it to, not a scratch on the tissues – so exact, so beautiful! I shocked her body with cold and ice; I kept her breathing and held tight to the tendrils of magic that pressed and prodded… there was too much resistance. The body was committed to its course, and I could not stop it, no matter how I tried. The damage was too much.

It just one patient. There have been many others like her, who I could not save. There have been many more that I could.

It’s not as if we’d spoken. The years have marked our infrequent correspondence. Why is it that I should care, after all this time-? We were largely irrelevant to one another, save the featherlight touch of recollections, I suppose. The neither of us held a great deal of affection for the other; it was simply the way things were, that we should be distant.

Why is it that she found me at last, only so that I might be the one whose conscience weaves lies and useless sentiment around this, the last memory I’ll ever have of my mother?

The body will be removed from my office. The sun will rise. Life will resume, as it always does – babies will squall, couples will bicker, elders will complain. Should I mourn for her?

Would you?

There’s a secret that follows her to the grave, a dead bird trapped behind the cage of her teeth. I’ll never know, now. She never told me.

There have been many days like this day, yet I am at a loss.

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About Lara

Full time student, part time wageslave, always geek.
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