I’ve been sitting on this post for a little while now. I really liked how this story came out and submitted it to a small lit journal. Since it’s going on the blog, you can probably assume how that went…
I’m making more of an effort to write quality stories every single time, so when they come back rejected, I really don’t feel bad. I’m confident in my work. Even though I know there’s always room for improvement, I see myself getting better and better and that’s all that matters. I hope you all think the same.
All the doctors in the area knew him. He’d been visiting all of them since he was little. Nonstop, in fact. It was such a sad thing, seeing the boy’s worried mother sign into the office at least once a week. If they looked close enough, they could see hints of satisfaction, but that was never provable.
It took a long time for the receptionists to realize they all knew the boy’s mother. Last July, 2017, the mother brought her child in twenty days out of thirty-one. The boy’s face at the beginning of the month showed signs of exhaustion–not the typical fearful looks every seven year old gives the receptionist as they watch their mother confirm the appointment by signing in. Everyone knew the boy and pitied him. As they led him to the rooms in back to be seen by the doctor, nurses and assistants stopped what they were doing to say hi.
“Can you tell me why you’re here this time?” asked the doctor.
“I’m not getting better,” said the boy.
“Last time we checked you out, there was nothing wrong. Are you sure?”
“Are you going to give me another shot?” asked the boy.
“No,” said the doctor.
“My stomach hurts,” said the boy, pointing to his lower abdomen.
“Does it feel like you have to go to the bathroom?”
“Like you’re going to throw up?”
“Any sharp pains?”
“No,” said the boy, growing frustrated.
“Are you nervous about anything?”
“Like what asked the boy?”
“School, your mom, coming here, even though you should be used to seeing all of us at this point,” laughed the doctor, who knew this had something to do with anxiety.
“I have another doctor’s appointment tomorrow,” said the boy.
“The head doctor.”
“Why are you going there?” asked the doctor.
“Anxiety,” the boy said.
The boy’s doctor told him he would be okay, that there would be no shots or new medicines to take, but to go home and rest. “Try something called biofeedback for your anxiety,” he said. “Lay down in a quiet room and relax each part of your body starting with the tips of your toes. Relax your knees, your hips, your legs, your stomach, your finger tips, your hands, your elbows, your shoulders, your chest, your back, your neck, your jaw, your eyelids, and, finally, your mind.”
The boy tried it that night and it seemed to work. He told his mother that the doctor fixed him, and he was so happy about it too. “We don’t have to go anymore, Mommy!” She looked at him how an anxious mother looks at her baby when she realizes its growing up and things will never be the same again. Her eyelids twitched. He knew this as the sign that a doctor’s appointment was in order. Instead of feeling defeated, the boy said, “You should try biofeedback, Mommy,” repeating the doctor’s exact orders.
That same night, the doctor decided to call all the neurologists and psychologists in the area. One by one, they told him how the boy had been there, how the mother always mentioned they were coming from another doctor’s office. “Do you offer the boy anxiety medications?” he asked.
“The mother insists we do. There are clear signs of anxiety in the boy, so we offer him low doses just to help him get through the day.”
“Alright, thank you.”
Everything was much clearer. The doctor called the police, who visited all the doctors offices in the surrounding area. They spoke to the doctors, nurses, and receptionists. After the fourth office, it was obvious. The boy’s mother was hysterical when they finally knocked on her door with the Child Protective Services. “He’s been gone for so long. I told him I couldn’t do it without him.” Tears poured down her face. When her boy came out of his room, relaxed from the biofeedback, she screamed to get back in his room.
“You can’t take away my baby,” she begged as they started to enter the household.
“You’re not keeping your baby,” they explained, “but if you tell us the truth, we can help you get him back faster.”
“I always had anxiety issues, but they got worse when he left us. He couldn’t deal with me anymore. I started taking them more and more because I couldn’t get through the day without thinking about him. I couldn’t escape the dreams of him leaving with my baby and leaving me all alone.”
“So you used your own child to feed your addiction.”
She couldn’t bare the reality of being an addict and collapsed to the floor. The boy, who never actually left, ran to his mother and asked what was wrong. One of the agents looked at him with sad eyes when she said that his mom was okay, but needed some alone time to get herself back to normal. He wasn’t the first boy she’s said these lines to and won’t be the last. His mother wasn’t the first to use their child in this kind of scenario, and she won’t be the last.
If you’re interested in submitting your work as a guest post or for the upcoming Winter Issue of Come and Go Literary, see my submission guidelines for more details.