Excerpt from Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

Stories

by Vincent Lam

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 362 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2008, 362 pages

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Ming was offered four medical school interviews, and Fitzgerald none. She felt that this placed a protective expiry date on their relationship, and wondered whether they might hold hands sometimes—couldn’t this be entirely platonic and also somewhat comforting? More and more, she wanted to grasp his palms, his fingers. She thought of him while studying, which scared her.

Fitzgerald posed unusual questions to professors during lectures, which frequently provoked tangential answers. Ming found herself rewinding her tapes to listen to him ask these questions, and it bothered her that she wanted to hear his voice.

Because of the way in which her interviews were scheduled toward the end of March, Ming convinced her parents that the obvious thing was for her to travel to Toronto on Friday for her Saturday morning interview, then spend the weekend there and go to Hamilton for her Monday morning interview before returning to Ottawa. She insisted that she needed to travel without them in order to concentrate. Ming hadn’t asked Fitzgerald, nor had he made the suggestion, but between them they had decided that he would come to Toronto with her.

“You can help me prep for my interview. Afterwards, we’ll have dinner together,” said Ming. It was her reward to herself, she decided, this extravagant pleasure which was only possible in a city where she was a stranger.

“You get to choose the restaurant.”

“We might as well stay in the same hotel room.”

“Because of the cost.”

“I specified two twin beds.”

“Needless to say,” he added quickly.

After a pause she said, “Not to imply that you would imagine differently.”

He was her best friend and study partner, she reasoned, and therefore it was normal that she would want his company. Besides, it was her parents’ own fault that they would not understand this, therefore she would not tell them.

“Next question,” said Ming. It was one o’clock. That morning, they would travel to Toronto. They lay in their respective beds, in their separate homes, talking on the telephone. Ming was curled on her side in the dark. Her muscles ached as if they had been stretched beyond a natural length and then allowed to recoil into tightly wound balls. She imagined Fitzgerald lying on his back, the sheet of paper on his knees, the light from the reading lamp yellow on the page. She knew the paper he held, because she had given him this list of interview questions from previous applicants’ Toronto interviews. It had the pebbly look of a photocopy of a copy of a copy. He read questions, which she answered like lines in a play. Ming foresaw the aloneness of saying goodnight, and wished that she could hold him. Even so, she felt panic as if being attacked when, at that moment, he said, “Do you think that if things were different, we could be lying together right now?”

“Fitzgerald, this is the worst possible time for you to say that.”

“Sorry.”

“The hotel has two beds, and the only reason I agreed to you coming is because we’re unemotional friends, and you’re supposed to help me with my interview. Not get me all screwed up.” She spoke as if the idea of Fitzgerald coming to Toronto was entirely his doing.

“But don’t you wish we weren’t afraid of each other?”

“We need to go through all the questions once more.”

“It’s better if you answer them spontaneously.”

“For you, that’s the way. For me, I need to be prepared,” she said.

“It’s more honest if you just go for it.”

“You think they want honesty?”

“They’ll throw you questions that aren’t on this sheet.”

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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