von Carlton Mellick III
“I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve called you here today,” said Doctor Black, as the smiling little girl entered his office. “Please, take a seat.”
He gestured to the small metal chair in the center of the room. She nodded twice and quietly seated herself.
“Back straight,” said the doctor, pointing at her abhorrent posture. She straightened her back and raised her chin. It was a drill she knew very well.
Doctor Black stood from his desk and towered above the girl. Her glossy brown eyes twinkled up at him, smiling a chubby smile and fidgeting with a purple-checkered bow in her hair.
“Normally, I would have my secretary inform my colleagues and acquaintances of this information,” said the doctor. “But as your father, I decided it might be more appropriate to deliver the news to you personally.”
The little girl just smiled at her father, excited to be in the same room with him. Even though they lived together, she hardly ever got to see him in person. He did not take weekends or holidays off. And when she did see him, he rarely spoke to her directly. He was always so busy with his work.
“I called you here to inform you that I have only a week to live,” said Doctor Black.
The girl’s smile fell from her face. At first, she thought he was joking, but that couldn’t be possible. Her father never, ever joked.
“You mean… you’re going to die?” she asked, her breath quickening, her eyes moist.
“Correct,” said the doctor. “Your mother and I decided it would be best if you were unaware that my disease was terminal until I was in my final days.”
The girl stood from her seat and raised her arms up to him, wanting him to hold her, but the doctor wouldn’t allow it. He held out his hand so she couldn’t come near.
“Hugging is not permitted,” he said, and told her to return to her seat.