Short Story (Fantasy)
Lisa refused the preventative spells when her son was born, and now she must fight for his life.
Sunlight pierced the window of the medicine-man’s waiting room. Boe sat quietly, bouncing his leg on the ball of his foot. Lisa sat next to him in a padded armchair, gazing blankly at the helpless bundle in her arms. Their two-year-old son, George, pale and still, moaned weakly in his fever-induced dream. With each moan, a fresh tear dripped from Lisa’s chin onto her baby boy. With each tear, Boe’s leg moved faster.
A door opened, and the medicine-man said, “Boe, Lisa, welcome. Please come in.”
The patient examination room had a high bed with fresh sheets, incense burning, and a magical rabbit in the corner waiting to entertain younger children. The medicine-man gestured to the visitors’ chairs and sat down on the other side of his desk.
He took a deep breath, gathered his thoughts, and summoned his most compassionate expression. “The results have come back from the citadel. George has blue lung disease,” Lisa whimpered and Boe swore, “I’m afraid that without treatment, George has only a few weeks to live.”
Boe heard himself croak, “And what farcical treatment do you want to be paid for?”
The medicine-man looked aggrieved, “I can only imagine how you must be feeling. As you know, blue lung disease used to be common, but the advent of preventative spells cast at birth has almost eliminated it as a cause of infant death.” He waved his palm over the wish stone on his desk and spoke a trigger word. Text appeared in the air above the stone, and the medicine-man skimmed it, gesturing when he wanted to scroll up. “I see you refused the preventative spells when George was born.”
Boe’s face turned red. “Of course! Everyone knows those spells have terrible side effects. And they’re just a way for the big medical spell companies to line their pockets!”
“Medical magic is a science, and while all treatment carries risk, I assure you that without treatment, George’s lungs will continue to fill with fluid until he can no longer breathe. At that point, he will die. With the right treatment, he should make a full recovery. The treatment is expensive, but you must decide now. Any delay and George’s condition will become irreversible.”
Boe shouted, “If you think….”
Lisa shot to her feet, still cradling George, “Boe! I can’t. I won’t lose another child!”
Boe stared at Lisa, meeting her fierce glare. He started to say something and then slumped back in his chair. He nodded slowly.
The medicine-man covered his smile with one hand while the other swiped the wish stone, displaying written terms and conditions in the air. The medicine-man pointed to a signature space at the bottom. “Lisa, if I could just get you to make your mark here, please.” Without reading it, Lisa drew an X in the air, signing over the family farm in exchange for the life of her son. It was the easiest decision she’d ever made.
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