Doctor Volodimiir Jethro Frances III stood alone on the balcony, watching the evening birds dive and roll across the cerulean sky.
Behind him, the party continued. The guests had arrived and were making themselves comfortable; handshakes, kisses on cheeks, smiles and winks.
Jethro glanced again at the birds tumbling into one another, and as they fell into a flowing pattern, his thoughts turned to his wife.
He imagined her gliding through the house, like the starlings, beautiful and free, chatting with the guests before flitting away, and wondered if
she hid her sadness better than him. Her heart, she said, had been broken the loss of the children, and while Jethro had told her they were fine, that moving out didn't mean their life was over, nothing would offer her comfort, and tonight as the party continued unaware of her depression, he felt defeated.
"Jethro, what are you doing out here alone?" a voice echoed behind him. He turned to face the speaker.
"Ah, Martin, how are you?" he replied, attempting to hide his feelings with a smile.
"Jethro, pardon me for saying, but you don't look well at all."
"Oh," Jethro ran his fingers through his hair, and lowered his gaze, "I'm fine. Just a little tired, that's all."
"You know, it's been months since you've been to my surgery, Jethro. Let me give you a thorough check-up. Remember what Old Luca said, "'Just because you're doctors', doesn't mean you're protected from sickness.'"
"If you have any respect for your profession you will consult a colleague as often as you recommend a patient to return." Jethro finished the quote of their old professor.
"Come and see me tomorrow, Jethro. Okay?"
"Sure, sure," he replied, nodding.
"Now," Martin smiled, "come and get a glass of red wine; Doctor's orders. Your wife is asking after you."