Fiction: To Heal Or To Harm

Annelise Lords

Sometimes life puts us in places, positions, or situations where we have the power to heal or harm.
A heart made from beautiful flowers.Image by Annelise Lords

At Career Day at her former high school, Dr. Theresa Bloomfield was asked by a group of 16-year-olds, “Why did you choose to become a doctor?

Theresa eased back into the past, then stepped forward with confidence. She has been waiting for the right person to ask her this question.

“I had a rough life. I lost my mother at seven years old to breast cancer. Then my father had a heart attack due to high blood pressure five years later. I was nicknamed ‘the exchange child’ in my family because I had no abiding city. I would be moved from one family household to another. I didn’t stay long enough to get to know my cousins, aunts, or uncles.

But I learned a lot about life, cruelty, hatred, thoughtlessness, and other evils no children should see or experience. Best of all, I learned how to live and stay alive.

I was thrown out into the world too early with all that knowledge. When I was 16 years old, I had a science project to do and went to the library. Time ran away from me, and I got home late. I was locked out. Knocking again for the fifth time at both the front and back doors and getting no answer, I made a bed of the Doormat at the back door. Then I used my bag of books as a pillow.”

One of the young ladies in the group asks, “Weren’t you afraid?”

Theresa beams in happiness, stepping back as the memories of time spent with her father overwhelm her, “My father and I use to go camping a lot, and we spend many nights with the moon, the stars, and a few nocturnal creatures. For some reason, I wasn’t afraid. But I was happy it wasn’t winter. Laying on the Doormat, I suddenly heard movements coming from the shrubs separating my Aunt’s house from her neighbor. I quickly jumped up, reaching for my pocketknife in my back jeans pocket. A gift from my father while on our regular camping trips.”

“Do you still have that knife?” a young man asks.

Theresa smiled, struggling to control her emotions as sadness forced its way in. She quickly continues before someone else interrupts.

“Yes, I do.”

“Who did you hear coming?” another child asks.

Theresa smiles, then reveals, “It was a puppy I would often feed. He was one of six puppies born to a German shepherd who lives next door. He was a renegade pup who would often visit me for treats. He sensed I needed protection and paid me an unusual visit. Because I was never up or out that late. I gave him the Doormat to sleep on. He was more comfortable as he curled up beside me. He stayed there all night with me until my Aunt opened the back door early the next morning. She looks at me as I quickly jump up and begins to chastise me for coming home late. Suddenly the puppy started barking at her and rushing towards her defending me. She quickly slams the door. I had to find another place to live.”

“What?” several voices in the crowd said in unison.

Theresa smiles and continues, " The puppy’s owner took me in, and I stayed there. With her kindness and love, I finished high school and got a scholarship to study medicine at NYU. Luck was with me because, in the dorm that I was to stay at, dogs were allowed. I named him Doormat.”

The children laughed.

That lessened the pain in Theresa’s heart.

“Is he still alive?” a too tiny to be sixteen years old young girl sitting in the front row asks.

Theresa pause as the pain returns, then releases, “No, I had to put him to sleep five years ago.”

The audience moans in sorrow.

“But Doormat and I became inseparable. An animal’s love and kindness are precious gifts, and humanity doesn’t give them their due. The same kindness from its owner, who said to me as I cried, watching my Aunt throwing my belongings in the garbage bin, thus making me homeless. Her name was Mary Santino, and she took me in; then she enlightened me, “sometimes life puts us in places, positions, or situations where we have the power to heal or harm. My Aunt had that power. At that time, I thought she harmed me by making me homeless. She didn’t. She put me on the right path. The one I am on today. I decided that it was either a doctor or a nun. I wasn’t a Catholic, so medicine was the better choice. This way, I will always be in the position to heal someone.”

What position does life place you in? Do you heal or harm?

Thank you for reading this piece. I hope you enjoy it.

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I don't limit myself, because I learn from the actions, choices, decisions, and life of everyone I know. I study and learn from all of my life's circumstances and situations, and also yours. My power of words is about life, awareness, the value, and the simplicity of commonsense, especially when it's not used. Life lessons are in everything we do. I will show them to you.

Poughkeepsie, NY

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