Restart Story

I'm not ready for this. It's all wrong. When I think about this moment in my head it's in a different room and different place. \n\n\n\n[[Go through to the doctor]] \nor\n[[Not ready yet, one more story]]
"Yes I'm ready.” I steadily sit down and take a deep breath, all that cliché crap that turns out is true. How predictable. But the answer in that envelope is not predictable, not to me. It may be to the doctors. But in my mind it's 50/50. Good fortune or Bad. Lucky or unlucky. Luck, Fortune. \n"Luck Fortune?" the Doctor says. \n"Sorry?" \n"I just said Luke, are you ready?" I nod. She unfolds the results and starts speaking. \nI can't tell what she's saying. It's like my ears have been blocked. Her mouth is moving too fast. There's smudge of lipstick on her front tooth, and a little string of saliva at the corner of her mouth. No her mouth tells me nothing, but her eyes, her eyes tell me everything. Downward glancing, eyebrows arching up in the inside like puppies. All sound is muffled, like words underwater. \nNow I know, it seems like I always knew. \n\n
Lucy: Hello? \nLuke: Hi it's Luke.\nLucy: Luke, hi. It's been a little while. \nLuke: I'm sorry about that, I know I let you down last time. I've been busy ever since. \nLucy: Honestly it's fine. It was ages ago. So what can I do for you?\nLuke: Um. \nLucy: Luke, you still there? Where are you? There's sirens in the background. Luke: I'm just at a hospital.\nLucy: Is everything ok? Are you all right?\nLuke: Yeah I'm just here for a friend. Everything's fine. Look Luce, I've got to go. I'm really sorry I missed our date. \nLucy: Are you sure you're ok? \nLuke: Of course, I didn't mean to worry you. Speak soon ok.\n\nI hang up the phone. What was I thinking calling Lucy?\n\n\n[[Doctor enters]]
There's a certain smell about a hospital that is one of a kind. It triggers a reflex in the body that tells it something's wrong. So sterile that a waft of any other smell is amplified. At least that's what I think as I sit on a hard plastic chair, waiting for my name to be called. \nI should have brought someone with me, but who \n[[Mum]], [[Lucy]], [[David]]? \n\nTo my left there's a desk with a bored looking nurse behind it. To my right a row of the same hard chairs, a few filled with patients, just like me. \n\n\n\n*[[Door]]\n\n\n\n
"Mr Fortune, I have another appointment soon, are you ready? \n“Yes I'm ready.” I take a deep breath. My hands are sweaty; all that cliché crap that turns out is actually true. How predictable. But the answer in that envelope isn't predictable, not to me. It may be to the doctors, but in my mind it's 50/50. Good fortune or Bad. Lucky or unlucky. Luck and Fortune. \n "Luck Fortune?" The Doctor says. \n "Sorry?" \n "I said Luke, are you ready?" I nod. She unfolds the results and starts speaking. \n I can't tell what she is saying, it's like my ears have been blocked. Her mouth is moving too fast. There's smudge of lipstick on her front tooth, and a little string of saliva at the corner of her mouth. No, her mouth tells me nothing, but her eyes, her eyes tell me everything. Downward glancing, eyebrows arching. All sound is muffled like words underwater.\n Now I know, it seems like I always knew. \n\n\n
My mum and I have never been close. Even as a child she'd describe me as difficult to my dad when she thought I was asleep. She and her partner Winston now live in an elaborately decorated bungalow in Surrey and have two King Chares spaniels. We talk occasionally, mainly about her holidays and what's on T.V. I haven't told her about my back or the hospital visits. \n\n\n\n\n
She sits in front of me, the small desk between us. More like an interview than a doctors appointment. I try to guess what her expression means, but she's not giving much a way. "I'm sorry, I'm not ready to know yet." She looks startled. I realise I'm now standing. \n"Would you like me to leave the envelope with you for a few minutes? Perhaps you could call someone to sit with you. Then I can book you in to talk about further measures or precautions depending on the results." Was that an attempt to cover her tracks? Further measures, precautions. Measures for positive, precautions for negative. Like Blue for a boy and pink for a girl. Or creamy yellow walls hiding a secret for parents who don't want to know. \n\n\n\n[[Hear results now]] \nor\n[[Call someone]]
Luke: Hi, Mum? \nMum: David is that you?\nLuke: No, it's Luke.\nMum: Of course, sorry love. How are you? Winston and I have just got back from \nBarcelona. Just put our cases down. \nLuke: Did you have a nice time?\nMum: It was wonderful. Visited so many places; it's a beautiful city. How are you anyway? Just a social call was it or did you need something? We haven't even sat down yet.\nLuke: Just a social call Mum, glad you had a nice time. I'll give you a call next week. \nMum: Bye love. \n\nI hang up the phone. I can't do it.\n\n\n[[Doctor enters]]\n
I stare at the door knowing there is a doctor on the other side with my test results. \n There is this thing that Magda, a girl from my office, said the first time we met. \n“It's Luke right, Fortune?" I smiled, knowing I had better chances with women if I kept my mouth shut. She flicked her hair and perched on the corner of my desk in her tight pencil skirt. She slid an envelope towards her with my name at the top. She scribbled out some letters and it now read, 'Luck Fortune'.\n"Now that's a lucky sort of name I'd say" She winked at me and on the paper she'd also written, 'Bar Nelson? 8 o clock?'\n I think I should add that I did meet Magda at eight, but I also had too much whiskey and threw up on her shoes by ten. Magda was wrong, as I'm sure she realised when the night ended like that. I am not a lucky person. It's one of the reasons I don't want to think about these test results. I need a distraction. \n\n\n\n[[Think about Mum]]\n[[Think about boarding school]]
Looking forward to seeing you. I've booked a table at Beagle for 9:00. See you then. Xx Luce\n\n
"I said I'm talking to you." He reached for my shoulder and shoved me around to face him. "Have you come to call on my sister? Is that what you're doing here?" He shoved me again, this time both meaty hands jammed hard into my chest. I stumbled back. \n"I just wanted to..." \n"to what? You stay away from her you hear me.” I saw a figure running towards us. It was Lucy. \n"James what are you doing? Leave him alone. He didn't do anything." She was still in her school uniform. Their school hadn't quite broken up for summer.\n"Go inside Lucy." James snapped. \n"Don't shout at her." I said before I realised it was a bad idea. James swung at me. I remember a burning pain in my nose and blood everywhere. James just walked away. Lucy sat by me and held her P.E shirt against my nose to stop the bleeding. \n"It was this or a hockey sock.” She attempted a smile. “Are you alright?” she was crying but trying to hide it. \n"Come inside Lucy." James shouted from the front door" \n“Fuck off James. You'll be in so much shit for this.” \nI'd never heard her swear before. “I'm fine." I said, "I need to go." I got up feeling pathetic and embarrassed. \n"I'm so sorry.” She said. “I think your nose is broken.” \n\n\n\n\n[[Think about work]]\n[[Think about Mum]]\n\n\n\n\n\n
\nDavid dashed my belief in Santa at age 6. Since then the festive period had been less than thrilling. This year was no exception. 17 years old, our parents had divorced, dad now living in Hamburg. Mum seeing a man named Winston who took her to parties and dinners. David and I still attended boarding school. \n I watched as mum's taxi made tracks down the driveway towards the airport. She'd giggled as she told us they were spending new years in Paris. All I could think to say was "Have a nice time then." I had no plans for New Year as my few friends from school lived far away. David however had big plans, maybe this year would be different. \nNo sooner had the taxi disappeared, people started arriving. In less than an hour the rooms were wall to wall with David's friends. I knew a few people but mainly I just drank beers from the ice bucket and when they ran out I raided the liquor. \n"Hi Luke." I turned, brandy bottle in hand. \n"Lucy! I didn't know you were here." She wrapped her arms round my shoulders in a warm hug. Lucy used to be our neighbour before my parents separated. I'd had a crush on this girl since forever. \n"Your brother invited me, so I thought why not." I smiled. For the first time all Christmas I actually felt happy. \n"Top up?" I said, pouring brandy into her half filled glass.\n“That was red wine.” She laughed. I slopped some on the carpet but she steadied my hand, her fingers warm and soft. \nA girl leant over the banister I was lent on and shoved a bunch of branches at Lucy and me. \n"Mistletoe!" She screeched. "You have to kiss." Before I could think of something witty to say to the drunken mistletoe girl, Lucy grabbed my head and kissed me. When she pulled away she just sipped her brandy, red wine mixture and smiled. I downed mine.\n\n\n\n[[Think about boarding school]]\n[[Think about running]]
"Luke, we're ready for you now." A stout woman in a white coat over her sweater hovers in front of me. Waiting. \n\n[[Go through to the doctor]]
Luck and Fortune
There was this one time where David and me wore penguin suits. No wait… That was at a funeral. I don't want to tell that story. \n\nWe once had this cat, who was called Samson, or Samuel, I can't remember, anyway he, or was it a she, maybe it was Samantha….\n\n\n[[Doctor comes out]]
After my first year at University a couple mates and I went inter-railing around Europe. We ran out of cash three weeks in, but managed to get to Hamburg before we left. I wanted to visit my dad. I hadn't seen him in two years other than the occasional Skype. We'd booked into a hostel and I left the lads to it. \nI had the address in my hand as I got off the bus and walked the rest of the way. I didn't tell mum I was going. \nI stood across the road from the house, smaller than our old home but modern and expensive looking. I was about to cross over and knock when the door opened. A woman came out; she had blonde hair and a shapely figure under a tight jumper. She went to the Audi in the drive then dashed back inside the house. In an instant she was back holding one end of a pram, negotiating the other end was my dad. They kissed briefly and pushed the pram down the path. I ran back down the road I'd come from, away from them. My chest started to burn; I really should stop smoking. I wanted to keep running and running but I didn't know the way. Instead I got the bus and joined the boys at a bar. I drank down a litre of beer, then another, until I couldn't see that pram anymore. \n\n\n\n[[Think about James and Lucy]]\n[[Think about work]]
The only time in my life I've felt lucky is when we moved in next-door to Lucy. We grew up together and I had a huge crush on her as a teenager. We've grown apart in recent years. She's studying architecture and probably doesn't think of me often. We arranged to meet a few months ago, but it didn't work out.
I've always looked up to my big brother. Less as we've got older I suppose, we're just so different. David with his sports trophies, A's and a constant swarm of girls at his heels. \n He now works in finance and has a beautiful fiancé, Marjorie. We rarely speak. If we do it'll be over a few beers with a crowd of his work mates. We don't talk about the heavy stuff. \n\n \n\n\n\n\n\n
I woke early for a run. Most guys don't get into the office until 8:45 so I had time. I was actually training for a half marathon for Charity. A girl at work dragged me into it, but I began to enjoy it. I ran through the main gate of the common, making sure to stick to the pavement. Mud had seemingly swallowed the grass after a particularly wet autumn. My breath appearing in white clouds that trailed after me. I felt a tweak of pain in my back, like holding a finger over a candle or getting a shock from a plug socket. I ran through it like I would a stitch, but it got progressively worse. Work kept me busy and I didn't see a doctor about it for a month. I had to stop training and pull out of the race. Of course everyone at work assumed I just sacked it off out of laziness. When I finally did see a doctor and have tests done and samples taken, well that's when things got serious.\n\n[[Think about boarding school]]\n[[Think about New Year's]]
I'd just finished my degree and found a half decent grad opportunity with an accountancy firm. Lucy and I stayed in touch after we both moved away to study, a couple emails during term and a couple pints at our local when we were back for Christmas. She was visiting some friends in London and we arranged to meet up after I finished at the office.\n“Luke get off your phone, and listen up. Good job out there today, nailed that presentation and the client is very happy. Drinks on me tonight everyone.” A few cheered. Finally people in the office had begun to treat me like a person rather than some dogsbody. My phone buzzed, [[a text]] \nFuck. Double fucking booked. \n\n[[Then what happened]]
"I think I will call someone actually." I twiddle my Samsung in my hands. "Of course, I'll give you some time." She stands up, clasping the desk with manicured fingers and moves swiftly to the door. I look down at my contacts list; numbers of colleagues, school friends, neighbours and hairdressers. There are only a few real choices\n\n[[Call Lucy]]\n[[Call Mum]] \n[[Call David]]
Later, I squashed into the booth with two drinks in my hand, happy hour, not that it mattered, tonight was on the company. I looked down at my watch, 7:45. I could have a few drinks with these guys and sneak away and meet Lucy later, I'd only be fifteen minutes late. \nNumerous drinks later I had four missed calls, all from Lucy. I attempted to call her back but the room was spinning, the music too loud and lights too dim my phone screen too bright. Girls gyrated and men flung arms and legs on the dance floor and I'd forgotten what I was doing with my phone in my hand. \nThe rest of the night is a blur. I remember getting on the last tube, attempting to meet Lucy. In my state I couldn't comprehend that she wouldn't be sat waiting for me hours later. I must have fallen asleep because the train reached the end of the line. Blurry eyed I staggered onto the platform and read Heathrow Terminal 1,2,3. I'd gone too far. The tubes had finished and I was stuck. I wanted to call Lucy again but the signal bar blinked empty. I spent the night on a bench on the platform. I haven't seen her since.\n\n\n\n\n[[Think about James and Lucy]]\n[[Think about running]]\n\n[[My name is called]]
Answer Machine: Please leave a message after the tone. \n\nI'm about to hang up but I decide not to. \n\nLuke: Hi David, it's Luke, your brother. Hope you and Marjorie are well. Wondered if maybe we could get a beer sometime, just you and me. Maybe at the weekend? Let me know.\n\n I hang up the phone. I feel foolish leaving a message to a machine.\n\n[[Doctor enters]]
I was seven, and my mum had been asked in to school. It wasn't the first time. \n"Mrs Fortune, I'm sorry I had to bring you in like this but there has been another incident in the playground." Ms Harper said. " Master Fortune was caught spitting at Emma Fawnley." \n"Is this true?" \n"I didn't spit 'at' her, we were kissing.” I said. “I thought she'd like it but I must have done it wrong, because the screamed." Ms Harper said nothing for a moment. Then finally, \n"I think it best if we talk about other options for Luke's education." I was ushered out of the office. Later that week I was sent to boarding school and didn't see another girl who wasn't my teacher, mother, elderly neighbour or cousin for a good few years. I guess that was the point.\n\n\n\n[[Think about running]]\n[[Think about New Year's]]
"David." I knocked on my brother's dorm room door. We still had an hour until lights out; he wouldn't be asleep. I could hear him shuffling around. It wouldn't be the first time he'd ignored me at school.Just as I turned to leave he opened the door. \n "What?" He said, in just his sweat pants. "Look I'm a little busy at the moment. What do you want?" \n "Did dad call you?" I looked down at my feet. My mouth felt woolly thinking about our conversation. \n "Yeah he called.” David didn't even look upset. Our parents had told us over the phone that they were getting a divorce, and by the look of things, my brother didn't care. \n "Do you want to talk about it?" I asked. I could feel my eyes start to go. \n "Shit, don't start crying." He said and glanced over his shoulder. I heard a shuffle behind him. "Dave, Should I go?" A girl's voice. David opened the door slightly wider. A sixth former in his football top. \n "No everything's fine, you stay there.” David turned back to me, "They're getting a divorce. So what, we're never at home anyway. Just deal with it. I am." He shut the door. I heard the girl giggle within. \n\n\n[[Think about travel]]\n[[Think about Mum]]
I almost forget I'm in the waiting room. Red capitals on the screen flash, along with a woman's voice. "MR FORTUNE for Dr Hendry" It jolts me out of my daze. I attempt to stand but suddenly feel heavy and my hands are sweaty. I don't want to go through that door. I'm not ready yet. \n\n[[Avoid]] \nor\n[[Go through to the doctor]]
Even as a teenager I wasn't what you could call lucky. I remember sitting in a hospital waiting room, similar to this one, holding a bloody tissue to my nose after James Carter punched me. \n"Oi Fortune, I'm talking to you." I'd heard him. But as a leggy fifteen year old I wasn't looking for a fight. No sooner had I rung the doorbell I realised Lucy wasn't in but her brother certainly was. I quickened my step away from the porch and away from James. He was not happy. \n\n\n[[What happened next]]
Charlotte Taverner