With Beer and Burden

Copyright – Björn Rudberg

After thirteen years as an oncologist, the closest I’ve come to having a personal life is sitting in this tavern, with my beer and self-condemnation.

Despite how many lives I save, nothing dulls the heart-ripping pain after failing yet another patient. Today it was a young woman. Nothing could stop the cancer from stealing the many years of life she deserved.

Amongst the soulful guitar strumming and melodic conversation, I admire surrounding patrons. Though far from living perfect lives, they somehow manage to carry on.

I persist solely to save lives, though I lack the faith to preserve my own.

*** Thank you so much for reading my contribution to this week’s Friday Fictioneers. I’ll admit this certainly isn’t my best, but some prompts speak to me more than others.

The photo prompt comes from Björn Rudberg. If you haven’t visited his site, I highly suggest it, as his writing is very expressive and unique, to say the least. Also, don’t forget to visit the work of fellow Fictioneers, and perhaps submit your own 100 word story!

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39 thoughts on “With Beer and Burden

    • Thank you so much for reading and for the thoughtful feedback. I completely agree with you on the last line lacking. No matter how much I revised, I just couldn’t come up with something better. I considered just not participating this week, but I finally decided to put it out there and see what happened!

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  1. I can not say whether or not this is your best because I haven’t read all you’ve written. But I’d say it’s still pretty powerful. I agree with Gunn’s Cabin Fever that the last line needs something more. And for some reason I don’t like the word oncologist within the context of the story. Other than that….

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    • I greatly appreciate you reading and giving me feedback, Emilio. As I ponder it, perhaps my last line reflected the unsettling tone I was attempting to portray. Nonetheless, it certainly had room for improvement. I never considered the term oncologist not flowing well with the story. I suppose I could’ve described the narrator’s occupation with more artistic depth, but I was seriously struggling to keep this at only 100 words. Once again, thanks for the input.

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  2. This was a painful yet lovely read. A medical professionals, one can only do what they are trained. The medication and the body takes over the rest. Its awesome great to see you havent become numb to it, as I know a few that have. Thank you for sharing, and find an outlet, something enjoyable that brings peace and balance to the chaos and uncertainty.

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      • Thank you so much, Lana, for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful and personal comment. Though this isn’t my best work, it truly means the world to me that it held enough emotion and depth to read like reality. So, I’m sincerely grateful for your praise. I strive to put myself in the shoes of those who endure situations that I hope I never will. Honestly, I don’t believe I have the strength of character and perseverance required of the field. Thank you again, so very much.

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    • Thank you so much for reading and for the wonderful feedback! While the word limit can be frustrating, I like knowing that I won’t be able to write a super long and potentially boring post. 😀

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    • I really appreciate the lovely feedback! I can imagine a career like that would be mentally, emotionally, and physically taxing. I’m glad to know that I was able to make a piece of fiction so realistic! 🙂

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  3. Adelie, I think you showed the unutterable pain of losing a patient and I would think that would weigh on anyone. I’m sure there are also doctors who have nothing but their work, which wouldn’t help. The last line seemed to imply to me that he was going to kill himself, although I don’t know if that’s what you had in mind. As for whether or not to put it out if you don’t think it’s your best, first of all, don’t worry and secondly, I’ve written thing I thought no one would like and found them to be quite popular. 🙂

    janet

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    • Janet, you never fail to make me smile and to reassure me that maybe my writing isn’t too terrible! My last line wasn’t intended to have suicidal implications. More like the only reason he was staying alive was for the chance to save other people’s lives. Though, I’m really glad you brought this up because it got me to thinking that perhaps part of my personal life leaked into my fiction. A close family friend of mine took his life three years ago. He was a pathologist, a very kind man, and had several hobbies and interests. His death shocked everyone, to say the least. Though, at the funeral, a colleague mentioned that our friend had made some sort of mistake with his work and couldn’t forgive himself. Wow, and I thought I had written fiction here….On a brighter note, I really want to thank you again for your input because your writing has so much depth and talent to it. I’m truly honored that you would read mine! 🙂
      Adelie

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      • It was only the second half that sounded as though he might want to end his life. He just sounds so lonely and unhappy, despite the good that impels him to go on. As for good and bad writing, so much of that is in the eye of the reader. There are plenty of best sellers I wouldn’t ever read. So do the best you can, think about suggestions and revise or not, and then keep working. :-). End of sermon number two.

        janet

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  4. wow this was such a wonderful read. the story made me think and really reflect.
    i get what you mean. for some reason, this was the most difficult prompt that i’ve encountered in FF haha but i liked your story and i’m glad that you decided to write one this week.

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    • Thank you so much for reading and for the very thoughtful and encouraging comment. I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one somewhat stumped by this prompt! Your kindness means the world to me!

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    • Oh, Rochelle, you’re truly too kind. When I look back on this story, I notice that it’s not as fictitious as I intended it to be. I feel there are so many people out there, no matter what their profession, that critique themselves to a point where it is no longer constructive and just damaging. I’m really glad I was able to make a (mostly) factitious story relatable! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
      Adelie

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  5. Great story. It reminds me of a time I visited a cancer ward, I remember old couples holding hands, clinging on to the time they had left. Sad but also a wonderful affirmation of love.

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    • That comment pained my heart just reading about it. I can imagine it was quite a sobering experience. It’s unfortunate that sometimes it takes a tragedy for us to really slow down and appreciate these moments in life. Thank you so much for reading and for sharing such an inspiring story.

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    • Wow, that’s very interesting and understandable that there would be a limit of their time working in that ward. I completely agree with you. I don’t think you could ever get used to those situations. It takes strength on all sorts of levels. Thanks so much for reading and for the lovely comment.

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    • Most definitely a career like that can take a toll on someone. Personally, I know I wouldn’t be strong enough. I would be defeated from the beginning. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts!

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  6. Hi Adelie , I think that being an oncologist would probably be the most depressing field in medicine. If you enter MD Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston, TX, it’s a whole different experience than being in a regular hospital. There is not as much laughter, and people carry around Kleenex boxes and women wear head scarves. But, everyone is in the same boat and smile mildly at each other. It is very touching – as is your story. The poor Doctor can’t save them all but he has the wish to. You really did a wonderful job on your story – WELL DONE! Thanks, Nan 🙂

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    • Thank you so very much for the kind words and the touching story, Nan. Cancer is a difficult journey, but it does help having the support and companionship of others who are enduring similar situations. It’s got to be hard being a doctor in such defeating circumstances, but I suppose no one wants a doctor who is unaffected by the emotional aspects of disease and death. Thanks, again! 🙂

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