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 ©

Scifi / Horror

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

Catherine Edward: I enjoyed reading this story very much. Thanks for sharing it here. It was well written with good descriptions.Rachel travels to the Black Forest Island for an archeological dig and soon finds her team mates missing. When all the puzzle pieces fall into place it was something they weren't prepare...

makaylarussell9: It sounds exactly like ghost whisper

MALAK: It's a nice story, but it should've been written in a better way... Seeing that there are some details are better left out such as those concerning the brands names. Then comes the place that the word 'etcetera' is put in, you can't be talking with someone in real life and telling him things then...

Azalea Heart: Loved the plot she is an amazing writer and i loved how she wrote about humanity and how we treat each other and how that would be our down fall some day. And that our diversity should be celebrated not divide us.

poltuck: The story was quite endearing and I really enjoyed the writing of the end passages, There were a few mistakes in the spelling and grammar but overall a nice story with a lovely ending

kaylanicoleb1: The book is still being written. However so far, it is HILARIOUS! I love the friendship, the developing relationship, and the bold main character!! I was literally laughing out loud! 💖 The updates CANNOT come fast enough! Desperate for more!

pfin13: I like the concept and am excited to read more as you write more. My advice would be to move away from the information giving in the prologue and birth sequence and continue with the interesting character you’ve created.Hope that you can return the favor and review my book too!

bpreetham1804: The story is absolutely fantastic. It is a drama which will hold the nerves till the end.

More Recommendations

Hanna Joyce: This story was great! I couldn't stop reading, I woke up around 5 am and was reading non-stop. The story was so intriguing that I couldn't put it down until I finished it. Personally, I would recommend this story to all of my friends. Good job!

Queen Hasia: I love this story. Can't wait to start reading the 2nd. You deserve to have this book get published. I would buy it!

Abigail Mae: Although it took me a few chapters to get into, I loved almost all of the character, and you kept me invested for pretty much the whole time. I read the book in one sitting, I just couldn't put it down. I must admit that it was alot slower paced than I expected from the genera, which was nice bec...

Cerulean Night: i liked how the isolation was handled and how the city governs itself and how diffrent it is to outside.. makes you wander why and how and why in however long its been that most have lost or been mislead as to what is or was outside.

Leonardo-space-child: Everyone who has not read Piper's story must, this story is just wonderful, glorious, and original. If you follow her on Deviantart DA, her characters are just so cool and inspirational and very colorful, and her mainulip skills are just off the top.enough about the art, back to the story. She go...

{{ 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.