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AS OF last night, I am a violent crime survivor. Not a pout. Just a reality. I was released from the hospital just a few hours after my admission to the ER. I had to go to the public hospital across town. I didn’t want to go to the private hospital where I am Head of Paediatric Oncology. Now today, I have to walk the same streets where I was brutally assaulted. The hospital’s pharmacy is down that way, and I have not been able to get them on the phone, and there are chemo drug shortages to discuss.

I place my loafer-clad shoe on the sidewalk. The other one follows cooperatively, and I hold my purse the way I always do. I have to get down this two-block walk, there and back. What if I see him? What if he is looking for me? I feel my hands shaking. My blouse is wet with perspiration. My ears are ringing, and my throat is dry. I fight back tears successfully, and I take a few deep breaths. There is a bruise on my cheek that throbs, but I covered it with makeup. Is it hidden?

I pass a shoe store where I would normally look for a pair of fun pumps. I have three hundred pairs of fun pumps. The owner of that shoe store is sending his kids to college because of me, I bet. Now I know I can never wear pumps again. I wore them last night. I could not run properly. The gas station is on my left. I cross the street. Too many nooks and crannies in a gas station.

“Hi Dr. Cohen!” says a woman with a child in the ward. “You look overheated. Let me give you a bottle of water,” and she fishes in the giant bag all hospital parents carry . . . filled with toys . . . forbidden snacks . . . medicines to refill . . . sweaters. Even though it is a hot July day out here, in the wards it is always chilly. She holds the bottle of water out to me. Then she looks at my loafers. My pumps are my trademark. She looks at me carefully, like she is summing something up.

“Thank you anyway,” I push the words out. “I’ll stop by Murray’s for an egg cream.”

“I’ll just get upstairs then,” she says . . . then she hesitates. She wants to ask about Linsey, her ten-year old. But she looks at my flushed face and lets me go.

Let me go. The vile man eventually let me go. I speed up and pass a police car patrolling. I assume that’s what it’s doing. Momentarily I flinch. The police at the hospital wanted me to come to the station to look at mugshots. I refused. I know I would not recognize him. He just looked like an angry man to me. That’s all I remember. I feel a tear threatening to run down my cheek, and I blink it away. I see Dr. Lewis.

“Hi Rachel.” 

“Hi Chris,” I say. “How are you?”

“My wife is having morning sickness like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. “I just took her in for an appointment. They gave her something, but they told her it might take time. She’s thin. I worry for the baby, well, and I worry for her . . .”

Then Dr. Lewis stops talking and stares at me. He stares at my loafers, then at the bruises on my neck. I would have put makeup on them, but I had a Gucci scarf on, and now I see it has slipped. I glance down at the limp, slipped scarf and feel a blush. I feel the bruise on my face throbbing. I know it has swollen up in this heat. I didn’t put on eye makeup or lipstick this morning, and I feel him appraising all of this. I look down, and somehow I can’t look back up.

“Where are you headed, Rachel?” he asks gently.

I have to go to Pharm. Do you know there are shortages of chemo drugs,” I manage to look up.

“Really? Ones for children?” he asks gently.

“Yes, little children, and I am just sick about it. They don’t answer their phone either. I’m going over in person. There is a little girl in the middle of a treatment. I need to get her medication. I need to.”

“Of course,” he says, “what can I do to help?”

“You know, it might help if you came with me,” I say. “A man is a help in a situation where you are demanding something. A man . . .” I falter. “I mean to say. . .” I falter.

Chris gently says, “Two is better than one. Let’s go together.”

Chris leads the rest of the way. He is in Psychiatry. I think I’ll go see him tomorrow . . . today I just can’t. But I got to Pharm and back. Fucking shortages. I survived.


Image of June Wolfman

June Wolfman is a teacher and a lawyer. She is a graduate of Columbia University in New York, NY, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Creative Writing/English at University of West Florida. This is her fifth published short story. Ms. Wolfman lives in Miami with her husband and with her two troublesome cats.

1 comment
  1. So wonderfully written about a traumatic experience. I was in the scene and walking with her the whole time feeling and seeing everything she is going through. Exceptional writing.

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