A lot can be behind a door. I thought about the numbers. The math. The crowd of people in the room downstairs.
The last time I saw Lauren. This time. Lauren came walking out with her cane. Her hair pulled back into a tail. She didn’t look old to me. She looked tired but not old. Sometimes I think we look at each other through memories.
Sometimes I think we would be better off not remembering anything.
“What is it? You have that look you always have when something is troubling you, Sean. The wolves are at the door, and we have all night and no fire.”
I sat down. Opened my notes and watched her. I remember standing on the bridge and her lips. She looked at me and told me she was leaving. She had to. We could have been great together. But, we were better apart.”
“What are you going to tell them? Lauren. You haven’t found a cure have you?”
She laughed. “A cure! Ha! There is no such thing as a cure. We are all dying. Every one of us. It started when we were born. Life is death. Every form of medicine is just prolonged death.There is no such thing as a cure. If I had one. I wouldn’t give it to them. No.”
“What would you do?”
“Keep it for myself. They don’t deserve it.”
I looked around the room. “You don’t mean that Lauren.”
Lauren pulled on her uniform coat.
” I’ve spent my life,working , and now I don’t know what to do. Leukemia, maybe three months. I’m dying….there’s not enough time. I don’t think I can stop this, even if I had the resources.”
“What about medical schools? Surely there is something…”
“No. students today…I tried. They raise hands and trust textbooks they’ve paid a lifetime held ransom for. They won’t question what they read or what I find they’re obedient little soldiers. But not good scientists. You can’t stop this spread. Not with that. I need critical thinkers. Someone who won’t even trust me. Science is our integrity. Not my degree or pay check or emotions. I don’t care that I’m dying! Get me results.”
Lauren closed her notes. Packing them into her binder. Looked at me, asked.
“How’s journalism? Is it everything you dreamed? Don’t you ever want to go back? Do things differently? You haven’t exactly gotten your nobel prize. Have you.”
I sighed. Scratching my arm. I was frustrated. Frustrated with this whole thing. Newspapers are broke. They can’t afford journalists. They’re simply three page thought pieces. Cut into the bone marrow for budgets and no profit. No one gets a story. They get an opinion from a guy behind a YouTube camera who couldn’t even make it to the actual story. What could go wrong.
We are drowning in a culture of mass media. Not a lack of information, it’s not even hidden, it’s in excess, too much. Anyone with a web address could post a story. An now we were paying for it. Everyone has a news forum to back up and support their worldview.
I took my parents fortune and used it to travel in an effort to give the whole story. Without opinion. I’m one of the only journalists who will be seen at government conferences. Not because they don’t want us there. Because no one can afford the ticket. Or salary.
“I wouldn’t change anything. Lauren. I like what I’m doing. What are you going to tell them?”
She turned towards me.
“I’m going to tell them the truth. That we had a good run. But our time is up.”
“You can’t say that, you have to give them hope . These people will respond to hope. It’s human nature.”
“That’s what the Golden Arches of McDonald’s are for.”
“Ehh I’m more of a Cheesecake Factory and yoga on Sundays.”
Lauren just stared at me.
“If you want to give them hope. Tell them we had a golden era where science, like God, Told disease it couldn’t take anymore lives. But then we got too comfortable, we didn’t suffer, we couldn’t remember, and we took down our barricade. And now the Reaper is coming to call. And there is nothing I can do.”
I ran my hand through my hair.
“Lauren, you’re the last scientist. No one is going to listen to you.”
“Soon I’ll be dead. And then so will they.”
She stepped into the elevator.
The doors closing
“I love you,you’re insufferable. But you have a nice ass. If I had more time.”
I watched as she stepped onto that podium. Opening her notes, to this crowd of faceless strangers. Staring into their phones. Assuming this too will pass. Like the war they unfollowed and the other viruses or flu seasons…it always goes away.
I watched as she stepped up with her cane. And looked over the room. This woman I somehow still loved. She would open her notes and see two tickets. One way. To the mountains. Maybe I couldn’t fix this,buy a scientist or a cure, but I could give solitude, and we could be together for just a little while.
She looked at me.
And for just a moment
It was just us in that room
And we were back in college
Arguing over drinks. And I could see the future. And it was good.