The Adult World
I had my career in mind already. My father worked in the army as a nurse and my uncle owned his own surgery. It was obvious that my mother would want me to follow in my father’s footsteps. Even as a child, she encouraged me to read books about the human body. When I was 14, I worked with my uncle in his surgery. All I did was pass the sharp scalpels across the room. I watched closely as the skin was cut, to reveal the insides of an unconscious person. As the knife drew along the skin, there was a line of blood which followed along as if we were slaughtering the poor person. The flesh on the inside was a strong pink, covered in blood. The heart was around the size of my fist. To believe that the heart was the organ keeping the person alive was crazy talk. All it takes is for a little rage to spew out and someone could squeeze the heart, crushing the outside with their nails, making the insides vomit out. But that wasn’t even the worst part. The fact that I would be responsible for this almost dead person for hours upon hours. Making sure he isn’t dead. Making sure he still has enough blood left in his huge body. Making sure he didn’t wake up half way through surgery, confused, with a cut starting from his abdomen all the way up to his heart.
But despite all that, I still had to push away all my fears and the what ifs. I had to be brave enough to write my name in the list of possible future doctors to attend Florida’s medical college. All while people peered over my shoulder, doing my mother’s job for her. Making sure I write my name down whilst chanting in unison “do it!” After this, there is no going back. I will be sucked into the world of surgery, staying up all night, worrying that a patient hasn’t died at 4 in the morning because I accidently switched his oxygen off or gave him the wrong medication. My mother’s words were swirling round in my head as if she was stood next to me, screaming out “your father did it so why can’t you?” The school bell rang and it sounded like an air raid siren. Quick! Hide! Hide from the *****. Hide from my mother’s words. Hide from the scary adult world which wanted to consume me as soon as possible. After what felt like an eternity, the bell ended and the daunting pressure of putting my name down had also ended. For 45 minutes. All through science I couldn’t concentrate. My mind was buzzing, trying to come up with excuses not to write my name down.
My mother was so excited to see me at the end of the day. A scary decision I had to make. Should I tell my mother that I was too scared to write my name down or should I pretended that I did. I played both scenarios in my head. Both with horrible outcomes. So I lied and said that the lists were full. I had extended my deadline till tomorrow at 09:00 am.
In the dead of night, when every light in every household was switched off, when the phones of business men finally stop buzzing, when the cars stopped beeping outside, there I was lying awake in my cold bed, thinking about what I could do to fix the problem. Whether I should run away and never look at a dissected body again or whether I should just put my name down. Maybe I should pretend to be sick so that I don’t have to write my name down. But the problem wasn’t the fact that I had to write my name down; it was that at the end of the day, my name would be on that sheet of paper, whether I wrote it or my worst enemy did. My name would be along with other teenagers who have the courage to grow up and write their names down themselves. My mother could literally see my name on that certificate on my graduation day, wrapped neatly in a bright red bow, like the liver in our bodies wrapped in the bright red intestines. I tried to overcome the gruesomeness of an open body but my mind just couldn’t overcome it. I was strangled by fear, sliced by the pressure and blinded by my father’s footsteps. No matter what I tried, my mind forced me to imagine what life would be like. A lovely wife and kids, a secure job, a huge house but that didn’t matter. I would be paid to cut open people and sew them back up. Like a doll.
My imagination used to be the one thing that blocked out anything I wanted it to but now it was inviting in the question of whether I should just write my name. Suddenly, I heard a voice in the wind, calling out my name. It breathed down my neck until all the hairs stood as straight as the slit in the unconscious man’s body back at the surgery. The voice in the wind told me to come clean to my mother, telling her how I couldn’t do it. But she would be as heartbroken as when she found out that father died. I would be ripping her heart into pieces as if it didn’t matter. So I decided. I had made my final decision; don’t do anything. That worked when I was a child and was told to clean my room. I did nothing and my mother cleaned up for me. The problem is that’s how the adult world works. There is no one to clean up after you. Any mess I make, I clean it up because I’m the one that suffers. Me and any patient that is under the scalpel.
The next morning was cold and the skies were grey, just like me since I had no sleep. I was up all night contemplating whether I should come clean or not. I felt like I was in court and my life was on the line. But my future patient’s lives are on the line instead. I didn’t eat the soggy eggs I made; instead I gave them to the neighbour’s dog. I would give anything to be in the dog’s position. Surely what he was going through was better than my situation. I walked back inside, head hung low. Then it started to rain behind me, the rain hitting the door, creating a loud thump. The dog ran inside, the couple opposite my house ran in but I stood there, in front of the doorway, getting soaked by every drop of rain that touched me. The roar of the thunder sounded like an older person laughing at me. Laughing at the fact that I couldn’t write my name down on a piece of paper despite doing it since I was 5. Here I was, alone, again. Just like last night when nobody was awake except me.
I walked to school. I could have taken the bus to avoid getting more soaked than I already was but I knew that this would make me late and delay the deadline. I hadn’t had a chance to tell my mother how I was feeling so I went to the school therapist.
What a waste of time that was! She told me that “everyone was going through the same thing.” how dare she! No one knows what I’m going through right now. Nobody’s parent denies their child’s thoughts and a future they want. I then decided to ditch school out of anger. What if I was this angry during surgery? Maybe I would spew and squeeze the heart of a patient, the blood dripping onto my hands, then leaking onto the floor. I managed to push the thought out of my head as I headed to the local chip shop. Clearly I hadn’t successfully pushed the thought completely out my mind since everywhere I looked I could see was human body parts. The poster on the wall looked like a diagram of the human body. The fish looked like a pancreas. The chips looked like the bones of fingers.
Before I even stepped in the ordering section in the takeaway, I ran out, slamming the door behind me with a thump. Everyone on the quiet street was staring at me as if I had killed someone, or taken their heart and squeezed it with my bare hands until there was blood gushing everywhere. I ran. I kept running until I found an empty alley way. Even the rats were scared of what I would do to their hearts if I had a scalpel. I pushed my back against the wall and slowly started to slide into a squatting position, just like how I’m slowly sliding into the adult world. My heart was racing. My hands started to feel tingly, like how your hands feel after you squeezed a heart through your fingers. My breath quickened to the point where I couldn’t breathe. My legs were flying around as I fell from my squatting position. I was lying in a gutter and I was hysterical. My mind was all over the place and I felt like I was about to faint. Then someone squeezed my hand. Told me to breathe. She sounded like my mother. I looked up and, to my surprise, saw my mother. I opened my mouth to ask her how she found me but my throat was dry. No words came out my mouth.
When I had calmed down, I asked her how she found me. She told me that she got a phone call from school asking where I was. She followed me to see what I was doing. “What’s wrong?” she asked “What happened?”
That’s when I broke down. I told her everything. I told her how I was feeling and how stressed I was. She took me home and made me a warm cup of hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. The cream slowly dissolved into the chocolate drink and the marshmallows were barely floating, most of it in the chocolate and the rest peeping above the surface to say hello. Mother explained how she was sorry that I felt like that. We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out what my career should be. I could tell she was a little upset as she hung her head lower than usual and didn’t laugh much. But she told me that it was ok. She told me that the adult world is scary in some ways and is awesome in other ways. I agreed and smiled but I knew that my childhood would always be the best part of my life.