28 Day Writing Challenge #2

February 2, 2017
By , Elk Grove, CA

Ash. Day 2:

The most popular baby name the year he was born was Michael.He was jealous of all the Michaels in the world, so easily forgotten. Hard to mess up a two syllable gem like that. Being named after a color seemed romantic to his mother, a waitress with starry eyes. His dad wasn't around to comment. Maybe it was the meds, or the general shock after giving birth, but instead of Michael or Dave or Craig, he was blessed with Cinereous. "My little Cin," his mother still called him, even now when he was a grown man. Teachers had struggled through it, other kids found out it was a bird and called him vulture. It didn't help that his hair, the only inheritance of an absent father, was so light he appeared bald as a teenager. Now, working in the hospital of a dead end town, his hair has gone to the birds and he goes by his last name, Bartlett. Dr. Bartlett. Almost like he only went in the position for the title. It isn't far from the truth. He could care less about helping people. Saving lives. He was in it for himself. Do work, get paycheck. Today he was eating lunch. Sardine sandwich. He got called to help a, 'special case'. That's all the orderly told him. Going to the room to check out this special case. It was a boy. Young, fit. Sort of familiar. He checks the clipboard. Loren Page. First person he has met with a less fortunate name. "It's only a scratch." Says the patient. He's right. "I'm Dr. Bartlett. Let's patch up that scratch." He laughs at the rhyme. Dr. Bartlett, not Loren. The monotous questions of how this happened etc. took place before being interrupted mid sentence. A girl barged into the room. She had long black hair and a pale face. Loren smiled and asked, "How you doing?". Dr. Bartlett pressed a button for security. A young man came in behind the girl. Thin and stalky, his arms awkwardly hanging at his side. " I'm sorry," he said, to the Dr. and not the patient. No sooner had the boy uttered his apology when two more people entered the room. It was such a small room. Dr. Bartlett felt suffocated. He held down the security button. A perky young news anchor with uneccesary botox and a hefty cameraman shooter the two teens out of their shot. The woman was addressing the camera. "Teen heartthrob Loren Page is here at St. Felix's hospital, with a previously sustained wound. How are you?" A microphone is shoved in the attractive boy's face. He is babbling about how he's fine and thanking the woman for her support. He ushers Jean over and she sits in his lap, hopping up when he cringes in pain. Camera still rolling. The boy not injured has retreated to the corner with the Dr. who is still holding down the button. Did this hospital even have security, or was the button just for show? The boy attempted small talk. "Hi, I'm Carson. What's your name?" He sounded like a kindergartener. "Dr. Bartlett." Said Dr. Bartlett. "First name?" He persisted. "Cinereous. Like the color." Not the bird. "Oh." Says the boy. "That's nice." Momentarily he removes his hand from the button, revealing it is jammed down. He broke it. But he didn't care. The boy had said his name was nice. Like the grinche's heart his was certainly growing. No, swelling, with love for the world. This wasn't true. That's how he saw it. He was having a stroke. He started to talk slurred to Carson. "The color is Ash. They named me Ash, my mother thought ashes were beautiful even though they smell. They fall off of cigarettes. She smoked." The boy nods. Everyone else has stopped talking and is staring at him now, even the news people. As he fell to the ground he said,"It's also the name of a vulture." No one quite caught that. Loren had run into the hallway for help. He was swarmed by teenage girls. Weird that they would be watching the news in the middle of the day. Paige went out to be with him. The news filmed the spectacle. Carson stayed with Dr. Bartlett. Dr. Cinereous Bartlett died happy. It was three o'clock. He was mentioned on the news at the end of a segment on the catchy new Loren Page song, 'Without You I'm a Mess'.

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