With a deep sigh, he shut his eyes hard. “If it’s possible, may this cup be taken from me,” he whispered, making an effort not to start crying.  

“I knew this day would come,” he thought, “but I’m far from ready. I need more time! O, God! This is terrible!”

He was an experienced man who knew what suffering meant. Both times his wife had given birth, he had been present, reminding her that the excruciating pain she went through was just temporary. “You can do this!” he wisely and patiently had told her. “Don’t let this stupid little pain scare you!”

When his five year old daughter had her appendix removed, he had been there, assuring her that the ordeal would be over quickly, “Don’t worry, honey. This is nothing! It’ll soon be over.”

But the pain that he was anticipating now was of a totally different kind. He feared that it would penetrate into his very core, touch his deepest, most sensitive nerves and cause suffering as yet unknown to mankind.

“Help me!” he prayed, “I am so nervous!”

He opened his eyes and looked at the people around, quietly but desperately pleading for their support. But everybody seemed cold and unconcerned about his predicament. Absorbed by their cellphones, it was obvious that none of them even understood what empathy meant.

Realizing that he was left to himself, he sank deeper into his despair. “This is hell!” he thought to himself, “Death is a better option!”

At that moment, a door opened and he heard his name called out. He turned his head to see if somebody else had the same name, but nobody volunteered.

He bravely stood up, walked into the assigned room, and slumped down into a chair. Tools for torture were laid out on a table. 

“Not my will, but yours be done,” he sighed as he gave up his last resistance.

A big, powerful man approached, with a sadistic grin on his face.

“Good morning, Mr Anderson,” the man yelled. “Let’s see now. Which tooth was bothering you? Please open wide and show me.”

 

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
1 month ago

You had me thinking this man was at death’s door, Christer! But, of course, that was the plan! It did make me smile though that, when the pain was not his, he could be so brave and supportive while falling apart when it was his turn! A great story with an unexpected ending! As an aside, I remember being in the dentist’s chair as a teenager, with dramatic classical music playing in the background, and the dentist imitating an orchestra conductor whilst saying ‘perfect music for extractions’! Luckily, I was only there for a check-up!

Heather Chrzanowski
Heather Chrzanowski(@heather-chrzanowski)
1 month ago

I really enjoyed reading this Christer! Your stories are always packed with intrigue. Loved the ending! “Tools for torture were laid out on a table.” This reminded me of my grandfather…when we had a loose tooth as kids he would sit us in a chair, cover us up with a big white sheet and lay out his workshop tools. LOL, we would be half terrified, half laughing. Then he would painlessly pluck out the tooth with his fingers!

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Thompson Emate
Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
1 month ago

An interesting story, Christer. I never envisaged the ending. It’s a good take to the prompt.

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Susan Giles
Susan Giles(@susan-giles)
21 days ago

Good buildup to an impending disaster, and then . . . a relief! Cute story.

Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
21 days ago

Christer, you perfectly captured the torment and anxiety of your main character. As a reader, I held my breath thinking that Gothic horror was about to unfold. Great comical twist at the end. Your picture was well chosen and reminded me of the iconic photo Migrant Mother(1936) taken by Florence Owens Thompson.

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Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
Reply to  Christer Norrlof
20 days ago

Thanks, for the interesting link and for pointing out my mistake; “Migrant Mother” actually featured Florence Thompson. It was photographed by Dorothea Lange. I really will have to edit and double check my work more carefully! Thank you, Christer for educating me about Thompson and how hard she worked as a widow to provide for her numerous children during the Depression. Great pity this strong woman did not financially gain from the photo in the 1930s.

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