Flash Fiction: Responsibility

Every two weeks writers have the chance to take part in Soliloquies Anthology’s Flash Fiction contest. We publish a new single-word writing prompt as a starting point, and you write a story in 300 words or less. This winning story uses the prompt nostalgia. 


The sun has risen, my shift is done. I pull off my latex gloves, toss them into the red bin and leave before anyone can pin another chart on me. I exit the hospital, side-stepping the street vendors selling pyjamas and pictures of Jesus on my way out. I keep walking, passing the telephone poles plastered with “IS YOUR PERIOD LATE? WE HAVE AN IMMEDIATE SOLUTION!” ads before arriving at the Metro station.

Just as the Metro rolls in, a man gasps and clenches his fist to his chest before collapsing in front of everyone. People are staring at me. I look down and realize I’m still wearing my scrubs. Oops. Don’t look at me! What am I supposed to do? I only remember the important things they taught in med school. Apparently you shouldn’t fix your hair between CPR compressions because that increases patient mortality. That’s all I know. I call an ambulance instead.

I’m watching the paramedics load Pulmonary Embolism Dude into the ambulance and thinking perhaps medicine isn’t for me. Internship is brutal. Whatever happened to the days in which we were major threats to public health and nobody ever expected us to know anything? I want to go back to Fourth Year, the infamous party year, complete with Anatomy flashcard drinking games.

Whenever we were broke we would go to Costco and have free samples for lunch. I’ve been trying to keep up with my Internship readings, but only the important things stick. If your ex-boyfriend touches a pigeon and then dies shortly afterward, you should get yourself tested for HIV.

As the ambulance turns the corner, people shake their heads at me as they walk away. “With great power comes great responsibility” goes the saying. I think Spiderman would have made a great doctor.

Natalie Tinney is a Canadian-Peruvian in her Fifth Year of Medical School at Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, Peru. When she is not at the hospital, she enjoys performing ukulele and stand-up comedy at open mic events. Natalie is an avid backpacker and aspires to complete a residency in either Ophthalmology or Psychiatry, either of which she believes will help her patients improve the way they see the world.

For more Flash Fiction prompts and winners, visit soliloquies.ca/flash-fiction