A Cheesy Religion
(A short story by Steven R. Harrel)
Dusk settles over the sleepy little western town of Williams, Arizona; light fades as a cold northerly sweeping down Billy William’s Mountain bringing a chill to the already cool night air.
Dr. Frederick Anderson, family physician and friend, shares the long awaited test results in whispered tones, “The prognosis is grim, Nancy.”
Tom and Nancy Redic, husband and wife, stoically await the news.
As Dr. Anderson’s report draws to a close he can’t help but read the pain his diagnosis is inflicting on their tender hearts. Tears flow down Nancy’s face as all her prior hopes fall hollow and silent.
Tom notices the pitter-patter of Nancy’s tears as he pours coffee for himself and Freddy, Dr. Anderson.
She looks again into her husband’s milky eyes seeking rescue, vindication, acquittal, but none was found. She knew he would need to be brave, strong for the children but she wanted to see hope.
Nancy suddenly stirs, “Sleepy-times little-bunnies; it’s time to go to bed.” She noisily though gently ushers Shana, 4 and Daniel 3 off to bed.
Nancy returns to find Freddy and Toms murmuring softly by the fireplace. Why don’t we go and sit in the kitchen? Don’t want to keep the kids up.
Tom had been quietly pressing his friend for some renunciation of Nancy’s condition though unrealistic given the report.
“Perhaps another opinion or evaluation, Freddy,” Tom entreats.
With more heat than she intended Nancy interjects, “Why couldn’t it have been something benign, at the very least something with a chance of being arrested or something that could go into remission” her voice rose slightly, “not so, so final!”
As if accusing Freddy would somehow change the prognosis, Tom glares at his old friend and accused, “Yea Doc, you said we didn’t have to worry; in fact, you implied it was likely nothing at all! You said ‑‑‑!”
Freddy recoiled from the venom in his close friend’s voice, “Tom! It’s not within my power to know whether it’s benign or simply false fears or some malignant tumor; you know better, you know I can only run the tests and report the results! I’m not God! I’m not above it all and I can do nothing more than you can!”
Freddy calms himself, “The only thing I can even offer is pain-relief. Only the Lord knows if we’ll even be able to control the pain that is inevitably coming. I’m sorry, Nancy, I’m so sorry.”
With a genuine sense of remorse Tom apologizes for his outburst, “I’m sorry Freddy. We know it’s not your fault. It’s no one’s fault. But this diagnosis isn’t something we’ve been prepared to accept; leastwise, I don’t know if I can accept this yet!” Nancy moved up behind Tom and hugged his head into her waste. Tears began to stream down Tom’s face creating tiny little runnels on his cheeks while he leaned back into Nancy’s arms. “Do you have any idea how much time she has?”
Freddy pursed his lips, glanced into the living room where Nancy’s children had only been playing a short time earlier. He carefully considered, “Maybe a year, Tom, maybe less”.
Tom suddenly sunk deeper into his kitchen chair, lowering his head and wearily placing his face in his hand.
“I hate to say it, Tom, Nancy, but there could be even less time; it depends on so many things.” Doc turned his face away from his friends.
“Oh my God! Oh my God, no!” Nancy’s cries stung as she buried herself in Tom’s chest. “What about my babies” Nancy wept? What are we going to do about my Shana and Danny?
(End Part One)
To be continued.