Writing on the Brain

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Summary

Genre:
Scifi / Horror
Author:
RachelWeisserman
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
1
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

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.

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Christina Betts-trowbridge: Good read like this book

Audric Tickner: The story has a good pace. Clarity of character interaction is great. Not confusing at all. The suspense build more as each chapter passes. Great writing style!!!

Brandy Blackwidow: Its really great but honestly we have no features for Cassidy. You decribe the men well. But not Cassidy really

chasitynewlan123: 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

lazycocunut: I like it. Nice work.

Sparkles Everywhere: Woah. That was quite the mental journey. I usually only like happily ever afters but this story was amazing enough to not have me upset over a lack of one

Michelle Ogden: Great reading need more from this book

Amanda Berryhill: I liked the freshness of The plot AMD The theme. The writimg style is very different that most and I would agree to javimg this published ad a legitimate novel. Love the humour AMD grit of the novel.

Amber: I loved the plot of this story. It kept me on the edge of my seat. I couldn't wait to see what happened next. I read it all in a day. So happy Raven & Cade ended up together. Really great writing!

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jim lennard: What a story, takes me a while to get into a novel bit this one had me almost from the word go, can't wait for future chapters or stories keep up the great work, thankyou.

Jade S: If you're looking for a series to read, this is it!

Veronica Solomon: I dont like the romance between Elizabeth and Nicolas. It's very forced and unnatural.But I like the suspense holding the entire plot together.

Bianca Halabiski: Great story. just needs to check spelling before posting.

Samudhyatha Vijay Mhora: I liked the plot very much. The style of writing is good too. So, yeah, it has definitely been a good read so far.

caw2018ph: This was the best sci-fi book I've read since reading Isaac Assimov's Foundation Series. Great story with heroics, love, honor, timelessness, and hopefully to be used as a learning tool for all humans.Congratulations to the author! Very recommendable.

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