Saturday, May 14, 2011

What now?

[Below is an excerpt from a chapter from my upcoming novel The Unforgivening: The Tragedy of Medical School. The protagonist has just finished his last Structure-Function exam of his first year.]

He looked blankly around his apartment. All his notes and textbooks had already been packed away into neat little boxes. Nothing but a hastily scrawled "Exam" on his calender even gave hint to the magnificence the past year. Those days were gone now.

He was already two root beers into the evening, and not the value-brand stuff. The strong stuff was the only thing that kept him going now. The kind with amounts of high-fructose corn syrup far above EPA safety levels. But no amount of empty calories could fill the empty void of studying in his heart. He glanced at the box that held all of his notes from the last unit. Neuroscience. Was it really over? It called to him, tugging at his mind-strings.

"Just one more hour of studying," he told himself. "Just one more hour. And then I'll stop. I promise." He just wanted to look at another beautiful diagram of the basal ganglia circuit. But he knew he didn't want to just see one. He wanted to study it all. He wanted another test. But it was done now.

Medical school was all he knew. What now? His trusted friend, the Google Calender, would be able to help. Google Calender always knew what to do. Things to attend, things to study. But no. Now it was just filled with blank white space. Is this what was known as "free time"? Surely it was the product of madmen.

He walked over to the window and looked over the fog that had descended over the city. He rose his bottle to the sky and mused on the fate of all the medical students like him struggling to return to civilization.

"Oh, those moments we shared. The classes we adored. Now we must face the unforgiving Chicago summer. We must face the warm weather, the free festivals, and the excess of vacation time. We must face a lack of responsibilities, a lack of expectations, an unrelenting pressure to enjoy ourselves. May God help us all."