“if i had a hundred of you sitting in front of me right now, i’d say, in three months, thirty will be gone. by six months, sixty will be gone.” ezequiel looks straight at the doctor, smiles at him and adjusts his glasses. they’ve always examined scans together, with the doctor explaining everything as he rolls through the images, this time, the monitor is facing the doctor.

          “you see, we have run out of options. we have used all the better alternatives. i’m afraid, the best thing right now, is to drain the water in the left lung to help you with the pain. but it will fill up again. so, after we drain it, we will put something in that space where the water was, and see what happens.” ezequiel smiles again, adjusts himself on the seat.

        “that’s why you are having problems breathing. you’re virtually using only one lung.” ezequiel feels absolutely no fear. by nature, death is not an outcome but a transition – so, he has no fear of death.  the doctor is looking at him to pick up any signs of what he is feeling, but ezequiel keeps looking straight at him, with a smile on his face.

            “and the liver?”

         “i am afraid there’s nothing we can do about that.” the doctor looks at his monitor again. whatever is on the monitor has strained him.

        “i didn’t mean treating it. i meant, what’s going to happen as it deteriorates?”

            “oh. you’re going to get more tired, and eventually slip into coma.”

           “oh, ok.” silence. then they discuss the procedure of draining the water from the left lung. “can we go get that morphine shot now?” they both get up. the pain on his left side and lower back intensify. for the first time since he has been treating him, the doctor catches a slight change in his expression.

         “i know you are not the type to complain, so for you to talk about this pain you must really be in severe pain.” ezequiel laughs. they walk out of the doctor’s office to the room where the morphine injection will be administered.

           “i know it’s just april, but i will see you next year. i am one of the ten percent that will still be sitting in front of you when the ninety are gone.”

the doctor looks straight into his eyes. gives him a hug. the doctor is trembling.

          “i believe you.” he knew from the moment they first met, and throughout the times they met, that he had torn out the page in his dictionary, where defeat is defined.

fkregie 2017.