My Deal Me In short story reading challenge deck gave me clubs again this week, so I got to read another Chekhov story. This was also about a child, and was only marginally ghastly.
by Anton Chekhov
A child is taken a long way to a doctor. The doctor is gruff and insulting to the child’s mother, because the mother has waited so long to have the child treated, he’s going to lose his arm.
The child doesn’t really understand this. What he does understand is when the doctor is suddenly jolly, and promises to take him to a fair and give him candy if the boy will stay the night with him.
These days, we’re all, “Watch out! Child molester!” But, in the context of the story, we know that the doctor is just bribing the child to stay for his operation.
The hospital is wonderful, then it’s scary, and the child runs out, certain there are only two places, side-by-side: the hospital and home. He can’t find home, but he does find the doctor’s house, but faints before he can knock.
When he wakes up, the doctor is gruff and insulting.
Isn’t that just the way of it, though? Grown-ups might not be that way to children now, but I can sure remember how some of them would tell you anything to keep you quiet. They would be jolly one minute and hurtful the next, like you didn’t have real feelings like real people. And if they were going to do something unpleasant to you, like pull a tooth or take out a splinter or remove stitches or something, you’d think you were in for the loveliest treat in the world. Then BOOM!
Loved this story.
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Hospital