Story #1: Accidental Empathy

I wrote this story 22nd July 1995 with the title Story No. 1 (pretty original huh?) It was inspired by images from the media at the time.

This man comments on the sanity of the woman who drowned her children. He would be the best person to ask in this situation, given the tense, victim-like dishevelment he portrays. He is wearing glasses and he appears to struggle with the load he carries on his shoulders.

“I try not to see,” he thinks. “I became a psychiatrist to find the truth! How can I declare the rationale for one woman’s actions, when she personifies my pain and I hers? I wear her anguish, her misunderstanding and her guilt. She commits the crime in such a real and tangible way that I envy her. I envy her freedom of expression. We cannot harm the children, the innocents, the newborn and as yet unformed ideas, dreams and goals. Just as I murder my own self and every truly creative thought, dream or ideal__”

He blinks. “Too much analysis has gone into this life of mine. She represents that one true desire that was born of pain and sublimated beyond all recognition. I question my life at this point, when I, once again, determine someone’s sanity based on their decision to act.”

The American media are very interested in this case. The people have an opportunity to voice their objection to breaking the rules. The media seem to be very attracted to the public demise of individuals who are driven to express their disharmony without the benefit of acceptable options.

“The news is rarely ever good these days. The news doesn’t rejuvenate and uplift us, give us hope for our lives. I am a man who has studied intensely, the reality of the mind and human behaviour; yet I am not left with any more tools or particular human advantage than this woman, and pure chance separates our destinies.”

“I have children, two sons, beautiful boys and I would never contemplate their death by my hand. I don’t see my sons often enough. I work hard. Their mother is wonderful, I love and need her in such a way that I can’t even begin to communicate with her. We don’t get much time to talk. I work hard for my family.”

“There is no room for changes in this life – not for me, for my colleagues, my squash buddies, my patients or my family. There is a delicate balance, an unstable equilibrium to maintain. To upset this balance with nothing more than a desire for change, a desire to act, is futile and merely causes chaos and crises such as these. I cannot act upon, merely accept and live with this runny nose, this aching back, my crippled toes and immobile sternum – for that is my lot and who am I to question – to judge?”

The thoughts that run through this man’s head flicker across his face momentarily and though he has already submitted his written report to the court, for a brief instant, he is not quite sure what he is going to say. He is not quite sure what his pronouncement will be.

The end.

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4 thoughts on “Story #1: Accidental Empathy

  1. Lorraine Spencer says:

    Yes, very well done. As usual.

    Like

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