128 Words

Trying to Ignore the Stench

M. Stanley Bubien

Trying to ignore the stench of diarrhea and dried sweat, the Peace Corps doctor finished examining the boy's wasting form. She would have shook her head in futility, but his mother knelt beside the pad, eyes wide, imploring.

The doctor waved at the saucerful of brown liquid, "Stop letting him have this."

"But he begs for it like medicine. It makes him better."

Arm against her brow, the doctor answered, "Only for a time. It's what causes his... his disease."

The mother squinted, lips taught, arms folded.

"I've told you before," the doctor hissed. "This... This..." She grabbed the saucer and scowled. "This water. It's full of bacteria. It needs boiling."

"I cannot afford the kerosene."

Now, as always when reaching this point, the doctor shook her head.

Copyright ©1997 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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February, 1997
Issue #10

128 Words