Your dear friend is in town, but all you’ve got is deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. She wears a blue dress and brings you ground coffee as a gift. The two of you have a blast, sure, walking down the boulevard, talking about your dreadful boyfriends, laughing, having some charcoal ice cream, but there’s a translation about bladder cancer waiting for you at home. You don’t mind it, not really. How bodies work or fail to work has always fascinated you. Plus, being a medical translator means you get to translate all the ways you could die.
You spend the weekend at your parents’, but all you’ve got is deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Your sisters are here, and the three of you go for a walk to the forest outside the village to hear pine cones crack under your feet, sweep away cobwebs with a stick. You cherish the moment, sure, but your head is filled with deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. And in the evening, in the living room, your dad sits inches away, flesh and bone, but each of you is submerged in a different reality oozing from an electronic screen. Your dad hovers above the mouthwatering green of a football field while you dissect a tumour.
They beat the shit out of you, but all you’ve got is deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Your dear friend bombards you with messages. She wants to know: are you all right, does it hurt a lot, do you need anything. You appreciate it, sure, but at the same time find it a little annoying cos there are deadlines, deadlines, deadlines ahead of you and there are thousands of words to translate and you’ll wade through them, your head thumping, your right eye swollen, until dawn comes and erases everything.
And all you’ve got is deadlines, deadlines, deadlines, it’s always been the deadlines, deadlines, deadlines, don’t bother me, I’ve deadlines, deadlines, deadlines, your life’s a sum of deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.
Your dad dies of bladder cancer after he finally agreed to a cystectomy and even had a round of chemo, so your mum, your sisters and you thought he was going to be okay and he did seem fine and you didn’t even feel the need to call him that often, you and he were friendly, sure, finally after all these years, and there seemed to be many years ahead, but then the results came in and it turned out the radiologist had made a mistake and Dad’s belly was in fact full of pebble-like tumours and he kept losing weight stone after stone and, weeks before it happened, he gave you his good earphones and now all you’ve got is.
Łukasz Drobnik’s writing has been published in Atticus Review, Pithead
Chapel, Quarterly West, Lighthouse, Bare Fiction, Foglifter, X-R-A-Y
Literary Magazine, Mojave Heart Review and elsewhere. He has written two
novellas in his native Polish, *Nocturine* and *Cunninghamella* (Forma,
2011). An English version of *Nocturine* is forthcoming in 2019 from Fathom
My novella/short fiction collection, “Nocturine” is forthcoming from Fathom
Books. It hasn’t its own webpage yet, but you can find the publisher’s
website at fathombooks.org.
“Entrails” at Pithead Chapel – here.
“Landmines” in Foglifter Volume 4 Issue 1 – here.
“Spores” at X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine – here.
“Cellulose” at Mojave Heart Review – here.
“Cetacean” at Quarterly West – here.
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