To be continued…
Led by the shuffling attendant, Antoni and Orsola walk down a seemingly endless stretch of hall, the same sickly pale green, studded by a series of closed doors, with frosted glass windows, many of them interrupted by shadows of the people inside.
Echoes of these conversations, and faint suggestions of cries, accompany them as they walk.
The doctor’s office has an examination table, a wooden school desk, and little else.
It is clean, but well-worn; brick peeks through the paint.
The walls boast two posters.
One, an admonition against drinking while pregnant, and the other, a propaganda-style image of grinning, robust Soviet children cavorting around a Soviet flag.
Orsola sits at the desk, pulls out a pocketknife, and adds a second scratch mark under her name, which she carved in the desktop on her previous visit.
The desktop is full of carved children’s names, some with many more scratch marks than others.
Antoni presents an open palm to Orsola, expectant.
“We talked about this already. No knives allowed. Not now.”
Cut to Antoni and Orsola’s apartment, seven years ago:
Antoni opens a kitchen cupboard and deposits the knife into a box brimming with knives.
Repeatedly, his hand returns to the box and adds other instruments to a growing pile of contraband-knives, BB pellets, rope, razor blades, candy,a toy rifle.
After this final repossession, an eight-year-old
Orsola gazes up at the cupboard, scowling.
You have no reason to own one. If a day comes when you do-then, we will talk.
Cut back to doctor’s office
Orsola hesitates, then deposits the knife into Antoni’s waiting palm. The DOCTOR enters, and stretches his arms,in the manner of one who has recently woken from a nap. He is boyish, handsome, with a too-jovial expression, and the confidence of a perpetual charmer. He pulls on the end of Orsola’s ponytail as he passes her on his way to the desk.
Orsola Medved! Anything new to report from the land of sixteenyear-olds? Seems like just two weeks ago you were running around, just a kid. And here today, I see a real, live teenager who has forgotten how to smile. Come now, it’s not all bad-you get to leave school after all, don’t you?
Orsola glares at the doctor, I don’t think you are charming. Or funny. I know that’s what you are trying to be. You want to distract me from what you have to say. I’ll tell you now-it won’t work.
Enough, Orsola. I apologize. She’s not herself.
Doctor waves at the free chair before his desk, Please, sit. And we will have a little conversation.
Antoni takes a seat. Doctor begins to speak, but Orsola is distant, inattentive, choosing instead to focus on the poster on the wall. The faces of the broadly drawn children, with their exaggerated health and happiness, sway and grow hazy before her eyes, as she hears snippets of his speech. Doctor uses words like “white blood cells” and “leukemic cells” and “blood disease”. His speech is overwhelmed by the sound of blood rushing in Orsola’s ears. She closes her eyes–all goes black.
Against the black background of Orsola’s perspective, we see an animated scientific image of white blood cells and leukemic blood cells, undulating, balletic.
So, in essence, we treat these cells, these bad guys in the blood, like the troublemakers they are. Does this make sense Orsola? I know it is very complex. But I feel it is important to be clear here, about what we will be doing. You are old enough to know. The littler patients-that is more delicate. But in your case-let’s be honest. Do you have any questions?
Orsola shakes her head, and as she does so, her nose begins
to bleed. This jolts her to awareness.
To be continued…