RachelWeisserman would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

Writing on the Brain

By RachelWeisserman All Rights Reserved ©

Horror / Scifi

Short Story

I used to want to be a writer. Would you believe that? I would force myself to sit at a typewriter for hours, creating nothing but blisters and cramps. I would hold a pen like I held my scalpels, trying to cut excess adverbs from my sentences, the way I cut cancers out of a brainstem now. Cancers, on the whole, are easier; the difference between grey-pink healthy tissue and slick brown sacs of mutated flesh is obvious, but the difference between a good sentence and a bad one changes with each story. It was all too complicated for me, and I gave up.

Not that I don't still like to tell stories. When I lie awake at night, I don't think about the little girl whose aneurysm I clipped, or the old man whose cyst I removed. I don't think about how I'll have to be ready for an operation tomorrow, my hands steady and my vision unblurred. I fall asleep thinking of knights on quests, sworn enemies and star-crossed lovers, of epics I have the imagination—but not the skill—to create.

At first it was soothing. I'd accepted that my writing career would come to nothing, and had settled into my role as a saver of lives. The soap-opera, spaghetti-western tales that flashed through my head would take away the stress of the days, would replace my nightmares of shaky hands and dead patients with dreams that were more fantastical, if not more benevolent. I told myself that they were purely for escape, even though I sometimes sleepwalked through examinations, and even though I still felt most alive at night with my stories.

I would drift off in the middle of an operation, forcing the nurse to poke me or jostle me, sometimes resuming the operation herself. It happened more than once, as I was staring at the wrinkles of a patient's brain, imagining that it was a valley of stone, with a tribe lost to the centuries wandering within its folds.
The nurses whispered. It made my patients nervous. The director of the hospital wanted me to quit. I promised them I would get better. I went to therapy, I stopped reading novels, I even went to a professional retreat in the Bahamas. And I found a new way to make the stories I had in my head come to life.

Today, I am treating a man who works in marketing. His name is Spitz. He wears brown suits and very thick glasses, and he worries about his hair thinning and whether his wife really likes him, you know, as a person. He has come here because he has ferocious headaches. The psychologist who referred him to me says that they probably come from the pressures of his job and his gripping marital problems. She asked me to run a few routine tests on him, to assuage his hypochondria. I told her I had found a tumor. She is one of the few doctors in the city who still believes my diagnoses.

There is no tumor, but there is a small abrasion in the adrenal gland. I suture it. I make a few small, strategic incisions in the frontal lobe. When Spitz wakes up, he will no longer have headaches. He will not have a wife. He will believe himself to be a secret agent in the pay of the United States government. His secretary will be the agent he is assigned with. She will be blonde. I haven't decided yet if he will be on the run, in disguise. It might explain the glasses.

Tomorrow I will treat an eight-year-old girl with epilepsy. My hands will not shake, as they often do when I operate on children, but will make the incisions in her temporal lobe with precision. When she walks out of the clinic, she will no longer have to live in fear of her own brain. The fear will come from outside, not from within her; the city streets will be dark woods, each passing stranger a wolf in an overcoat or a haggard witch hurrying home to her chicken-legged hut. It will not be her mother who escorts her silently home, gripping her little girl's hand tight as she drags her through the crowds, but a sullen ice queen under a spell that will be broken when the woods melt away and the wolves turn back into men.

Next week, I will be removing an aneurysm from the brain of seventy-five-year-old man. He was a referral from a friend, a very cowardly surgeon who will not operate on the old or very infirm, for fear that they will die under his scalpel no matter what he does. I'm not afraid to operate. Of course, I will have to meet with him soon for a consultation, to determine his symptoms, learn about his dreams, figure out what kind of story to give him. The old have different stories from the young. Perhaps a war story, one of self-sacrifice, patriotic glory, with decoration and pride at the end. But only if he has never served; for a story to work, it must be unreal. The brain will recognize a familiar situation and twist my scenario to suit what it knows. I would hate for one of my well-plotted stories to turn into an ugly flashback, a thing of blood and mud and the smell of mustard gas.

I will watch them go, imagining that I am seeing what they see, that my neurons have been as artfully rearranged as theirs. I almost envy them their new realities, which I know will be seamless and satisfying. I always cut very carefully.

Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, RachelWeisserman
Continue Reading
Further Recommendations

laurisadavey: I like how you structured your story very show and not tell your way with words makes me want to read on very good detail and the paragraphs and sentences just flow making it easy to read

SeanSavage: Good plot that moves fairly quickly. Time passage somewhat vague. but not indecipherable. Very good syntax, grammar and punctuation. The story flowed very well, however, the breaks between chapters and the time jumps tended to be slightly confusing at first. I could see where the author was going...

Rita Kovács: It is a brilliant post-apocalyptic story, and there is a lot of work in it! Also, I'm really happy to see, it got published with all its seqences, because this story deserved it, it is wonderfully written, it's imaginative and original.

Aditya Harikrish: It had me on tenterhooks since the very first page. Excllently developed plot and characters. You've done an amazing job of building a fantasy world from scratch. Hats off to you!A sequel is a must.

Maja1111: Nice, plot, great characters, lots of metaphors. Something really worth reading. Great!

James Lawson: I enjoyed this so much I immediately bought (and read) the sequel from Amazon.ca - and am eagerly awaiting the third installment.Since this is a review and not a synopsis, I'll share my impressions rather than write out a condensed version of the plot.There were enough plot twists and turns to ke...

Sammy Styles: It is one of those stories that keeps you on the hook till the last moment. A roll of pictures were piling up and with continuous moving, it was like I was watching a film. The scenes were dramatic with a bit of every emotion. The story contains every essence of mystery, romance and adventur...

More Recommendations

Jason Phang: I'm pretty new to Inkitt (this is only my 4th book) and I must say I've been thoroughly impressed by the quality of the authors here. Remnants of Chaos is an excellently written book that hooks the reader, and doesn't let go. There are some grammatical and typographical errors, but nothing too se...

iann4701: I'm no expert but I know when I have read a good book and this was one. From the beginning it had me wondering where it was going next and what the outcome would be. If you fancy a read with a slightly different perspective from the norm then I would certainly give this book a read. I will look o...

Ding Fernando: very nice read.so realistic you can hardly put it down,i really like the character so human despite posessing immortality and eternal youth.though i would prefer a better ending..i still love this novel and i am recommending it to all sci fi fans to give it a try .you will love it too!!

Erica: La trama es muy interesante y original y eso ya dice muchísimo cuando todos tratan de triunfar con ideas ya trilladas.No puedo opinar en detalle sobre la gramática, porque a pesar de entender el inglés a la perfección, la falta de uso en cuanto a lectura y diálogo hacen que me maneje bastante mal...

Pablo Rojas: Love the story, at the end it is a western story, simple, yet giving hints and pieces of the situation that is happening all over ravencroft´s universe. easy to read and always keeping with the main stream story I want to keep reading about, Olafson´s adventures.

thePeeJ: aced it boiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii...

{{ contest.story_page_sticky_bar_text }} Be the first to recommend this story.

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.