The day that he turned six-years-old, James Evan Wilson decided that he wanted to be a doctor. More specifically, the young boy had decided that he wanted to be an oncologist.
It was all his brother's fault. He didn't care how many ugly faces Robert shot at him behind his mother's back or how many names he called him; it was all Robert's fault.
A gorgeously sunny day, the two youngest Wilson boys had sprinted into their backyard towards the tree house their father had built for them. It was nothing fancy, but for the three brothers, it was a fort, a castle, and a place to hide from their parents all at once. To them, it was perfection, the likes of which no store-bought toy could ever be.
Giggling as they playfully pushed each other out of the way, James, though smaller than Robert, managed to push himself up the plank ladder first for a change. The ladder wasn't a ladder in the traditional sense; it was just a few boards, just thick enough to provide a step, nailed to the tree trunk. Laughing as he pulled himself into the small fort, the little boy climbed to his feet inside and pulled back the small blue curtains that their mother had sewn for the windows.
The youngest of the three boys, James followed his older brothers around, never caring to play with any of the other neighborhood children. However, the oldest brother Charlie had turned fifteen earlier in the year. Ever so slowly he was slipping away from the comfort of brotherly camaraderie and into the world of "guy friends" and spin the bottle. And so, seven-year-old Robert and the newly six-year-old James had come to accept that their little threesome would be no more.
Scrambling into their castle, Robert's face split into a wide grin as he spotted his favorite soccer ball amid the piles of comic books, pillows, and candy bar wrappers. The moment that his little feet hit the wooden floor, the older boy had darted towards the beloved black and white ball. James, however, had gotten to it first and was attempting to keep it away from him.
"Give it back, Jimmy! It's mine!" Chasing his younger brother around the tiny tree house, Robert managed to reach out and grab a hold of the ball that was gripped firmly between Jimmy's tiny hands. Resting on the top and bottom of the toy, Robert gripped the leather attempting to pry it from the fingers attempting to claim it.
Pulling the ball up and down, the older boy decided to try swinging it from side to side in an effort to free it from his pesky little brother. Whipping it back and forth with all the strength that his little arms could muster, he didn't notice that he was swinging the smaller boy closer and closer to the opening of their beloved fort.
Squeezing his brown eyes shut preparing for one last bid to free his soccer ball; the older boy didn't see the look of shock that came over James's face as the ball slipped from his tiny fingers. He also didn't see the fear in his brother's eyes as he stepped over the edge of the tree house door. With the ball clutched possessively to his chest, Robert kept his eyes closed, relishing the victory over his little brother. It wasn't until he heard a sickening thud from below and his brother's sobbing that his bright brown eyes snapped open.
Slipping unconsciously from his fingers, the ball rolled, forgotten, across the floor. Robert ran to the small opening that was the tree house door and stared down in horror as little Jimmy sat on the ground, his body retching as he cried. Standing among the branches of an oak, he couldn't tell how badly his brother was hurt but his sobbing caused his heart to pound in fear.
He wasn't sure how long he stood there, frozen with terror, but the next thing he knew, their mother was running across the back yard and dropping to her knees before her youngest boy. As she began to pet James' hair and searching frantically for cuts and bruises, Robert ran down the makeshift latter and over to where his mother was gasping over the swelling bump on her baby's head. "Mom…"
Wrapping her arms around the trembling boy, Mrs. Wilson scooped her youngest into her arms as she turned to the middle child. Just like his, her eyes were bright brown, the color of milk chocolate, but now the normally warm gaze held traces of fear and anger that scared Robert. "What happened?"
Unconscious of the sounds of an ambulance tearing through the peaceful afternoon air, the middle child felt his mouth go dry as he tried to tell his mother had happened.
"H- … he… he fell." He stared at Jimmy as the words tripped over themselves as they fell from his trembling lips. "It… it was an accident." Fighting back the tears threatening to fall, Robert knew that it had been. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't fight back the feelings of guilt that were gnawing at his insides.
He wasn't sure how long he'd been standing over his mother and brother stammering about his innocence. It was until he felt his father's powerful arms scoop him up and move him out of the way to make room for the paramedics that he realized how long he'd been observing the scene.
Standing in the hospital foyer, the little boy wasn't exactly sure how he'd gotten there. Looking back, he could remember the two men in their heavy black jackets looking over James as he cried softly on their mother's shoulder and being ushered into the family car. Other than that, everything seemed to be a blur of worry and flashing red lights.
Talking to the family doctor with the diagnosis of a goose egg sized bump and a few bruises, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson didn't notice that their youngest son had been captivated by another doctor.
Like any young child, James was easily distracted by anything and everything around him. The patients in the waiting room, with their various ailments, had proved entertaining for a while. However, there was one person that captivated him in a way that no broken bone or bloody nose could.
Dressed in a white doctor's coat, the man stood smiling down a bald girl around his age as he hugged her. Despite the fact that there was obviously something wrong with her, she seemed… happy, content. Though he knew he shouldn't, James snuck away from his parents just as the girl and her parents were leaving.
Before the girl passed through the shining rotating door, she turned back to the man in white one last time and waved a tiny hand as she beamed at him. For some reason, James found himself wanting that wave even though he didn't know what it meant.
Pushing his way through sick people and their frantic family members, Jimmy kept his eyes glued to the doctor. Despite the fact that the girl and her parents had disappeared into the parking lot, his wizened face still held traces of the smile deep within the creases that lined his mouth and eyes.
Stepping around a man in a wheel chair and politely pushing past two women, he finally found himself standing next to the smiling doctor. He didn't say hello or excuse himself; instead, little Jimmy Wilson tugged gently on the man's white jacket. It was something that his parents told him not to do, and when he did, it was always to ask a very important question.
Slightly startled the doctor looked down and smiled slightly as his eyes found the small boy with floppy brown hair and chocolaty eyes staring up at him. He'd opened his mouth to speak, but the child beat him to it.
Releasing the white material and stuffing his hands deep into his pockets, James let his curiosity bubble over as he surveyed the man with his warm eyes. "Why was that little girl hugging you?"
Lowering himself so that he was eye level with James, the doctor smiled slightly as he took in the bright greet bandages that peeked around the edges of Jimmy's elbows. "Well, she was sick and needed my help."
Biting down on his lower lip, the youngest Wilson thought about what the man had said. "She needed you? Why?"
"Because she had cancer. If I hadn't helped her she would have died." The doctor watched as the little boy processed the information, his little mouth forming a silent "oh" and his eyes shining as if he were realizing a great truth in life.
Wiggling his fingers as much as possible in the confines of his pocket, James started back at the doctor. Tilting his head slightly to the side, the little boy noticed a plastic pouch containing three pens and a yellow pencil in the man's pocket.
"What kind of doctor are you?"
"I'm an oncologist. That means I treat people with cancer." Though the muscles in his thighs were starting to ache and scream out in protest, the oncologist stayed crouched down by the little boy.
"An oncowlogist?" The word slipped over his lips sounding as if he were trying it on for size, wondering if it fit him somehow.
Chuckling to himself the doctor pulled a red lollipop out the plastic case in his pocket before patting James on the shoulder. "Close. An On-col-o-gist."
Before either had a chance to respond a woman's frantic voice cut through the waiting room chatter. "James Evan Wilson, where are you?"
The moment that he heard his full name echo through the crowded room, Jimmy knew that he was in trouble. Not bothering to thank the doctor or say good-bye, he turned from the man and ran off. Not bothering to excuse himself, he pushed his way through patients and almost knocked over a teenager on crutches as he made his way back to his parents.
Lying in bed later that night, James looked through the window at the full moon shining down overhead. As the stars twinkled in the twilight, the little boy ran a tentative hand over the goose egg sized lump on the back of his head. Despite the trip to the hospital, he'd had a pretty good birthday complete with chocolate cake and a new bike.
Thinking back on the oncologist, as a soft layer of clouds floated past the winking moon, the youngest Wilson decided that that was wanted to do when he grew up. He wanted to be a doctor that helped people who needed him. Not bothering to roll away from the gentle moonlight, James called out into the darkness. "Bobby… Hey, you awake?"
Comfortable in the loving arms of sleep, Robert woke just enough to hear his brother calling him. "I am now, Jimmy. Whadyawant?"
"I just wanted to tell you that when I grow up, I wanna be a doctor." Even as the words were spilling out his mouth, James could see his future unfolding before his eyes. First off, and most importantly, he would be a famous oncologist with lots of patients who needed him. His best friend and brother, Robert, would be the best man at his wedding to the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen. Mr. And Mrs. Wilson would be as happy, if not happier than, his own parents, and they would have three kids (all boys) and a dog.
Slipping into the gentle arms of sleep, James didn't notice his brother murmuring sleepily in the background. All that mattered was that he was going to be a doctor and that people were going to need him.
Cillian Chase's Chart
- Originally written for the lj community "fraternizing" (Prompt: "Life is so constructed that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation." – Charlotte Bronte) and the lj community "alphabetasoup" (O is for Optimistic).
- Oh Katie, thank you so much for all of your help. Really, thank you so much. :duck: