The following is the complete text of "How to Get Into Medical School, Part I", from Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures.
HOW TO GET INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL, PART I
Desperate stragglers arrived late for the
molecular biology final examination, their feet wet
from tramping through snowbanks and their faces
damp from running. Some still wore coats, and rummaged
in the pockets for pens. Entering the exam hall,
a borrowed gymnasium, from the whipping chaos of
the snowstorm was to be faced with a void. Eyeglasses
fogged, xenon lamps burned their blue-tinged light,
and the air was calm with its perpetual fragrance of old
paint. The lamps buzzed, and their constant static was
like a sheet pulled out from under the snowstorm,
though low enough that the noise vanished quickly.
Proctors led latecomers to vacant seats among the hundreds
of desks, each evenly spaced at the University of
Ottawas minimum requisite distance.
The invigilators allowed them to sit the exam but, toward the end of the allotted period, ignored their pleas for extra time on account of the storm. Ming, who had finished early, centered her closed exam booklet in front of her. Fitzgerald was still hunched over his paper. She didnt want to wait outside for him, preferring it to be very coincidental that she would leave the room at the same time he did. Hopefully he would suggest they go for lunch together. If he did not ask, she would be forced to, perhaps using a little joke. Ming tended to stumble over humor. She could ask what he planned to do this afternoonwas that the kind of thing people said? On scrap paper, she wrote several possible ways to phrase the question, and in doing so almost failed to notice when Fitzgerald stood up, handed in his exam, and left the room. She expected to rush after him, but he stood outside the exam hall.
Are you waiting for someone? she asked.
Shortly after they arrived at the Thai-Laotian café half a block from campus, Ming said deliberately, Fitz, I simply wanted to wish you the best in your future endeavours. You are obviously intelligent, and Im sure you will be a great success.
The restaurant was overly warm, and Fitz struggled out of his coat, wrestled his sweater over his head, leaving his hair in a wild, electrified state. He ran his hands over his head, and instead of smoothing his hair this resulted in random clumps jutting straight up. Same to you, he said, smiling at her almost excitedly. She watched him scan the bar menu. When she asked for water, he followed suit. She liked that. She said, Also, thank you for explaining the Krebs cycle to me.
Any time, said Fitz.
I feel guilty that I havent been completely open, said Ming. She considered her prepared phrases and selected one, saying, It didnt seem like the right time in the middle of exams.
Nothing in real life makes sense during exams, said Fitzgerald. He tilted in the chair but kept a straight back. Ming reassured herself that he had also been anticipating a talk, and soshe concluded with an administrative type of resolutionit was appropriate that she had raised the topic of them.
She leaned forward and almost whispered, This is awkward, but I have strong emotional suspicions. Such suspicions are not quite the same as emotions. Im sure you can understand that distinction. I have this inkling that you have an interest in me. She didnt blurt it out, instead forced herself to pace these phrases. The thing of it is that I cant have a romantic relationship with you. Not that I want to. Now she was off the path of her rehearsed lines. Not that I wouldnt want to, because theres no specific reason that I wouldnt, but IWell, what Im trying to say is that even though I dont especially want to, if I did, then I couldnt. The waiter brought shrimp chips and peanut sauce. So thats that.
The above excerpt is the complete text of the short story "How To Get Into Medical School, Part 1" , pages 1-30 of Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures. Copyright (c) Dr. Vincent Lam, 2007. Reproduced with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
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