Misery comes in small packages.
They spin around each other, in small sad orbits. Sometimes they pass within easy reach of each other, close enough to touch; when this happens they accrete somehow, globbing together like oil; or mercury, if you're a hatter.
Sooner or later, we reach out to them, and embrace them. We spread the misery around, sharing it. The key is to blot it, but so few of us know this.
There seems to have been a trend recently in out patients writing on themselves, a semi-permanent record of their misery. Captured in time, to bring us in when we stand distanced from it. It is cruel, because it emphasises the final indignity, our wilful disobedience. One fellow scrawled "D.N.R", in blunt, bold ugly capitals on his chest; then overdosed. We saw it as we rent his shirt asunder. Too late, too late... did he really think we could be complicit in his request to not resuscitate him? Should we have been?
The next, another suicide attempt. This wee lass ran out of space on her paper, spilled her misery onto her belly and thighs. No request here, just an apology. All for naught. We found her too soon, or just in the nick of time, depending on who's side you choose to take.
The last, somehow the worst. Another wee lass, whose attempt at a teenage party somehow ended with a plummet from a balcony, the word "TWAT" scrawled in thick, black magic marker on her forehead. I'm sure it was meant to be funny; the laughter somehow caught in my throat, choked back, as we desperately tried to scrub her clean so her mother wouldn't have to see what cruelty had plucked her little girl from the second floor.
All of this misery spun narrow through our orbit; it's reach abortive.
Tonight's embraced too many. Another young 'un. Minding his own, his orbit destined to cross the paths of some urban street racers. The backyard F1 drivers, lap caught short by the rag doll flinging itself up onto the bonnet, and into the windscreen. Help was soon at hand; an old colleague of mine; not quite a friend, tho' I'd be honoured to call him one. A face I'd be glad to see looming over mine, if ever I stacked the car. But tho' he looks cherubic, he cannot wring miracles from the night.
We do our best, but the patient's injuries are many; are legion and severe. The Police bring misery to his mother. I make it worse. We spin on. Next time around we draw more people into the dance. His girlfriend, her mother. They sit, ashen faced as I draw them inexorably into the morass.
Round and round we go. I come back, and the numbers have increased again. Misery loves company, and still I have no good news for them. I want to tell them something, if not good, then at least not awful. But they would know me for a liar. The Police, and Sister, compliment me on the way I break the news. A backhanded compliment? I have become good at drawing people in, and shattering their dreams.
Then I break free. The sun is shining as I walk out, but, somehow, I can't quite feel it's warmth this morning