Escape Pod 685: A Vocabulary of Remorse
A Vocabulary of Remorse
By Dantzel Cherry
Dear Liam, I love you. I’m sorry.
“Well, Mrs. Rojas, the good news is that it’s contagious. I can safely state that pneumonia has never had such a positive outcome before.”
Dr. Robyn’s smile crinkled at the corners, as sharp and as numerous as the creases in the medical consent form that Lorelei had folded into an elephant, like the ones she’d been studying in Brahmagiri just before she took ill four days ago.
“Are… you sure?” she said. It was still astonishing to hear her own vocal chords. They weren’t soft and mellifluous like the rain dripping from the cherry blossom petals after the storm. They weren’t sharp, silvery and musical like the flute her son Casper played every afternoon at two-thirty. They weren’t a mellow alto like her sister’s. Her voice was croaked and cracked, an overeager frog at the far end of a drought-stricken remnant of a pond.
And yet it was a voice.
Dr. Robyn bobbed his head up and down. “And you said you have-” he checked his charts. “-Two children with the same condition?”
“Yes. My boys, Capser-” she tried again. “Casper. Liam.”
“And they have not seen you since you came home from your trip?”
Lorelei shook her head and gestured at the hospital bed under bed. She wished her tablet was within reach. Her chest hurt and her voice was already tired.
Dr. Robyn seemed to understand and bobbed his head again.
“You’ve presented us with an intriguing possibility, you know. It’s not often a condition like yours can find a cure – especially when it’s not a trigger word like ‘cancer’ or ‘Alzheimers.’ Truthfully, most of these types of non-life threatening conditions won’t be cured except through flukes like the one you picked up. It’s harsh, but there you have it.”
Lorelei nodded, and Dr. Robyn went on.
“We could culture this strain; give it to other patients with your condition. Even your sons could receive it.”