Now, Karl was doing his surgical residency in Toronto, and they avoided each other at family gatherings. He had put his hand on her breast once this year, in an upstairs hallway during a birthday party, and she had threatened to scream.
It was four-fifteen in the morning.
She said, You thought I was so perfect.
You seem to have everything under such control.
I cultivate that notion. I used to stand in front of the mirror and call myself slut, bitch. Not out loudI was afraid someone would hear, so I mouthed the words. I felt like I deserved to be called names. Then Karl told me how good I was when we did what he liked, and when I brought home my grades my parents were happy and proud.
You were a kid. How could you know what to do? That idea should absolve me, except it also takes something away. I looked forward to seeing him, although he was my nightmare. I got stuck. If I dont recognize that I enjoyed certain things, even the sex, then I was a stupid lump. No. I was there and made decisions, but was I coerced? Of course. I got things, but only some of them were what I asked for. These thoughts go round and round. You know how I distract myself ? I study. Every last little detail, and it fills my head. Karl taught me how to study for markshow to write all these stupid testsand now I forget myself by stuffing my head full.
There was quiet, and then after a little while Fitzgerald said, You know I love you. Again silence, and then, I might as well say it.
It may be the same for me, but Im afraid of it. At seven in the morning, when she woke up, Ming realized that she had not asked Fitzgerald whether he was coming to Toronto. Mings father delivered her to the train station, the long line of travellers snaking under the black maze of girders. She saw Fitzgerald buying a ticket at the booth. Her father, for whom Fitzgerald was an invisible telephone threat, was oblivious as Fitz walked past them toward the end of the line. At the platform, Mings father squeezed her and told her how much honor she would bring to the family if she succeeded. Ming boarded, and sat alone until she had waved her father goodbye. Only then did she find Fitzgerald. At nine-thirty, the soft clanking rhythm of the iron wheels on the joints of the track came quicker and closer as the train escaped Ottawas southern suburbs. Exhausted from the sleepless night, Ming grasped Fitzgeralds hand, and rested her head in the cleft between his shoulder and chest, amazed at the way the sides of their bodies fit together. It was a physical relief for them to touch. He kissed the top of her head and, as she fell asleep, Ming breathed in deeply this sweetly unfamiliar warmth.
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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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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