Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Prices We Pay

Just two more years.”

“Fine, but it’ll cost you.”

“Cost me what?” I ask, dubious.

“Only your left wrist. And you might never play the violin again. That’s my final offer. Is it worth the risk?”

I look into his steely eyes. He’s far less sinister than I expected, but regardless, I never want to see him again.

“Fine!” I tell Death, and I hold out my hand so we can shake on it.

Doctors remove the melanoma from my wrist, even a little of the bone too. But despite Death’s warning, I learn to rotate my wrist a little differently, and I begin to fiddle again.

Two years pass before Death meets me again. He’s always standing by a boat, always wearing a cloak that sways in a wind that I can’t feel. 

“Two more years,” I say.

“It’ll cost you.”

“Good Lord! What do you want this time?”

“Just part of your spine. You’ll never walk the same again. People will pity you—think you’re a cripple.”

“Pity?” I don’t want to see people’s pity. BUT what I want to see...is my children grow up. “Will it hurt much?”

“Course it’ll hurt!”

“Fine.” We shake hands.

I undergo a surgery to have an entire vertebra removed.

And every several years the meetings continue until I’m a shade of myself, and I’ve lost everything except a desire to die.

I wake up then, sweating, feeling like someone stands beside my bed. Then I rub my eyes and realize it was just the dream again—the one where I bargain with Death. And I wonder what prices we’re all truly willing to pay to keep on living.... At the cancer hospital I see clearly what prices people have paid—and they see my price too.

1 comment: