Never Trust A Doctor

I’ve been given five words to use in five separate shorts. One word per day. One word per story. They don’t have to follow on from one another, but they can if I wish. I thought this sounded like a fun exercise to try, and I think I will try to have them follow on from one another. So, today’s word is: ABSTEMIOUS.


Diane dragged her feet all the way to the doctor’s office. After months of avoiding blood tests, the vampire nurse had finally caught up with her the previous week.

When she reached the building, she looked up at the gaudy sign: “Dr. F. Graham & Partners”. Her stomach somersaulted. Maybe she should skip the appointment. She felt well enough; her diabetes was almost under control. If you didn’t count the ice cream and chocolate that seemed to be finding its way into her shopping trolley of late.

Just as she turned to walk back home (via the local bakery), she felt a hand on her shoulder. “Di, how are you?”

Cringing, she turned to face her best friend. “Katie, hi. I’m fine. Well, you know. Obviously, I’m at the doctor’s. But, you know . . . How are you?”

“Oh, I’m good. We’ve just found out I’m expecting again.” Diane felt her friend’s sour breath on her face as she leaned in close and said, “Don’t tell anyone, though, will you? I’m only seven weeks along. Don’t want to jinx it.”

Shaking her head and smiling, Diane agreed to keep the secret. She was pleased for her friend, really she was. Even if it was her fourth child, when she and her husband had been trying for eight years to get pregnant, all to no avail. Now, with the diabetes, it looked like she would never be a mother.

“So what are you here for, Di?”

“Hmm? What’s that?” Katie’s voice pulled Diane back to the moment.

“Why are you here? There’s nothing wrong is there? Serious, I mean.”

“Oh, no. Just a check up. Nothing to worry about. I really should be going in, or I’ll miss my appointment.”

Feeling her cheeks flush as she opened the door to the office, Diane wondered when she became so distant from her best friends. They had been through so much together, but these days it was like they existed in separate worlds. Perhaps it was the children. Or lack thereof.

A surreptitious scan of the waiting room showed few spare seats. As she sat, she noticed the sign on the notice board: “Dr. Baker is running thirty minutes behind schedule.” Great, just what she needed; an enclosed space, packed with hordes of sick people.

Diane’s foot tapped a frantic beat on the leg of the magazine table as she waited to be summoned. When, finally, her name was called, she jumped and felt her heart rate increase. She steadied her breathing and walked toward the smiling doctor.

She wasn’t fooled by the doctor’s kind eyes and warm voice. Give her a minute, and she would be all condescending preachiness.

“So, how do you think you’ve been, Diane?” A trap. Of course she would start with a trap. That was exactly what they had done with her father: “So, how do you think you are? Really well? Oh, that’s unfortunate because—sorry—the cancer has spread. You’re going to die.” Doctors always tried to trap you.

“I don’t know. Fine, I guess.” She focussed her attention on a paperweight that sat on the desk. It had sparkling, clear glass, with a twist of red and blue running through the centre.

“Okay, that’s good. How has your diet been?”

There it was. The sting. At least the good doctor didn’t skirt around the question. “Well . . . okay.” If only she could lie convincingly. “I’ve been trying, really trying . . . but it’s not been great, if I’m honest.”

Peeking from behind her dark curtain of hair, Diane was surprised to see genuine warmth on Dr. Baker’s face. She didn’t look cross, she didn’t seem at all perturbed by the situation. “I thought that would probably be your answer.” Diane’s eyes returned to the paperweight.

“But it’s okay. What you need is to be more abstemious in your meal planning. That’s all.”

“Okay.” That didn’t sound too bad, she could manage that. She didn’t listen as the doctor went on to explain the kinds of foods she should be eating. She didn’t hear her diabetes results or cholesterol levels. She barely even felt the blood pressure cuff as it almost cut off all blood supply to her arm.

Abstemious. The word rolled around in her head. She felt she should know what it meant. Maybe it was some kind of cool diet, like Atkins, or whatever was popular these days. She would have to look the word up when she got home. But she could commit to this, she knew she could.

Her steps home were much lighter than those of her journey to the doctor’s office. She smiled at the thought of her new abstemious diet. Once through her front door, she switched on her tablet and entered the words “abstemious definition”. Her fingers twitched as she waited for the search result.

Clicking on the first answer, her eyes devoured the words. But, wait. That wasn’t right. Surely? Abstemious – sparing or moderate in eating and drinking; temperate in diet.

Diane threw the tablet onto the sofa and crossed her arms. She sat, grumbling, berating herself for falling into yet another doctor’s trap. That woman thought she was fat. That’s what had just happened. The good doctor had told her she was a pig for eating too much. Well, she’d show her. She walked to the kitchen and grabbed a packet of cookies from the cupboard. “Let’s see how she likes this,” she mumbled, as the crumbs cascaded from her mouth and came to rest on her over sized stomach.


Abstemious ~ sparing or moderate in eating and drinking; temperate in diet



Author: chocotales

I am a writer who is passionate about words. I find them magical and seductive. I write short stories, poetry, and non fiction. I'm currently working on my first novel.

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