256 Words

Think Good Thoughts

M. Stanley Bubien

"Think good thoughts," she said.

Sound advice, or so it seemed. I, however, had a better answer---well, "answer" wasn't quite right---but something better to offer, surely. I simply needed do as she: speak the word before the class.

I held my peace, though. Afraid to offend? Possibly. Considering the situation? Certainly. For it was our last meeting, and the professor missed due to an illness. Unspecified illness, but requiring surgery---that much we knew. Parkinson's disease, requiring cauterization of his cerebrum---that much I guessed.

"I won't be here next week," he had told us in an uncharacteristically hushed tone. "I... um..." he gazed downward, "have an operation." His hand shook as he wiped his brow. I'm sure everyone thought it nerves. But that same shaking I saw in private conversation early-on. Nothing conclusive, but familiar with Parkinson's, even then I assumed he suffered the disease's ravages.

"Remember, think good thoughts!" she repeated in a fearless, inoffensive manner.

Ah, again my chance. I swallowed, licked my lips, cleared my throat, sniffed---all gestures designed to postpone speaking the most politically incorrect of words. I cleared my throat again, truly intending to say it this time.

And nothing came out.

The classroom emptied instantaneously, yet silently I remained, having made elaborate effort at collecting papers. All alone I sat, clock audibly ticking, florescent bulbs bathing me in light.

"I failed you," I whispered, head on desk against folded hands---doing the very thing I could not say. "But, Lord, help him. Christ, please heal him..."

Copyright ©1999 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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July, 1999
Issue #39

256 Words