Balls, Bowels, and a Far Away Friend (Age 4) – Michael Turton

We’re at Dr. McDonalds. He has a big airplane propeller above the fireplace in the basement of his house where sick people wait to see him. I like the propeller. I’m in a little room with my mom and dad. Dr. McDonald is feeling my balls. My brother Terry calls them nuts.
“Did you hurt yourself recently Michael?” Dr. McDonald asks. “Maybe climbing a tree or going over a fence?”
“I don’t think so,” I say.
“It’s a rupture,” he says to my mom and dad. “He will need an operation.”
A few days later I’m in the hospital. I don’t like it. I miss everyone. I hate staying in bed.
Some older boys are racing in wheelchairs out in the hallway. I wish I could play with them.
I like it when my mom and dad visit. They bring me stuff. Like a chocolate bar. But when they leave, I am really sad. I feel lonely. Sometimes I cry, especially at night. My mom said I am homesick and that’s normal.
When it gets dark, I look out my window. There is a big tower far away. At the top is a red light that blinks on and off slowly. I like that light. It’s my friend. It keeps me company. It blinks all night long. Sometimes I talk to it. My dad says it is a radio tower.
My aunt Anne is a nurse here, but not for my room. She visits me and I like that. I like her.
One night a nurse came in to see me. She looked serious like she was mad at me. She said, “Michael, did you move your bowels?” I know I am in trouble, so I say “No.” Because I didn’t. She comes back later and asks if I’m sure I didn’t move my bowels. I say, I’m sure. When she leaves, I look at my little table to see if maybe I moved something I shouldn’t have moved. But it’s just my stuff. Why can’t I move it? I don’t see any bowels.
Then my aunt Anne came to see me. She looks serious now, too. “Michael, we need to know, did you move your bowels yet?” I say, “No, Aunt Anne, honest, I didn’t move my bowels; I didn’t move anything, I promise!” Then she laughs and looks at the other nurse and they both laugh. Then she tells me moving my bowels means taking a poop. I feel stupid. I think bowels are stupid.
Aunt Anne tells me that after my operation everything will taste like rubber. She said it is from the ether. I don’t know what ether is. I don’t think everything will taste like rubber. How could it?
I’m lying on my back on a hard table in a big room with bright lights and one big light right over me. There’s doctors and nurses all around me. They are all wearing white clothes and masks and looking at me. A man says, “I don’t know why we have to do this to little boys.” That scares me. What are they going to do that they shouldn’t do to little boys? I’m kind of cold. A big hand is coming down at me from above. It’s a man’s hand. It is holding something. He puts it on my face and holds it down hard. It is the worst smell I have ever smelled. I wish I could get away, but I can’t move.
When I get back in my room, Aunt Anne tells me it was ether I smelled. I hope I never smell it again. My mom and dad are there, and Aunt Anne tells them about me moving my bowels. They all laugh hard. I don’t laugh. I feel stupid. My aunt was right. Even the ice cream tastes like rubber.

Michael Turton is a reporter for The Highlands Current, an award-winning weekly newspaper in Cold Spring, New York. He also leads a Flash Writing group in Cold Spring through the Julia L. Butterfield Library. Members of the group submit works of fiction and nonfiction with word counts usually limited to exactly 75, 150 or 300 words. He is currently developing a collection of stories about his life growing up in his hometown of Oldcastle, Ontario. He wrote his first story while in grade three, a one-page episode of Wyatt Earp, a gift for his sister Nancy who was in hospital having her appendix removed. Turton recalls his sister saying she laughed so hard her stitches almost burst. “I was somewhat offended; I wrote the story as a drama,” Turton said. “But I was glad she reacted; ” he said, adding that for a writer, the worst reaction of all is no reaction.

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