This was the moment he’d been working for. This was what he’d been imagining ever since he saw that proud smile when he told his father he wanted to go into medicine. Years of study, years of dedication, years of avoiding distractions, years of watching his old friends go out to parties and come home with girls, all of it was for this moment.
He was pleased to see that his hands didn’t shake. Why should they? He knew exactly what he had to do, knew exactly what to expect. He’d done this on the simulator hundreds of times. His hands didn’t shake, and yet his heart pounded with excitement.
It was the heat. He could feel the warmth of the body right through his protective gloves. Could see the chest rising and falling despite the surgical drapes that hid most of the patient from view. This was a real live human being, not some simulator dragged out to practice on. Not some corpse lying cold and nude to examine and learn from.
This was life; bloody, real, and warm. This was the moment that would tell him whether he’d made the right choice all those years ago, that would confirm his father’s pride.
And still his hands didn’t shake.
Steady and sure, he cut through skin and tissue, cut out the diseased flesh. His eyes took in everything he saw, his mind analyzed, looking for any hidden problems, anything that could make this surgery less than perfect. Delicate and economical, he sutured the wounds, clean and straight. He gently taped a bandage over the sutures, unwilling to leave even that to the surgical nurse. He needed this moment to be his, to see this through to the end.
Even after the surgery was over, he trailed after the recovery nurses and waited until he saw the patient begin to rouse. Only then could he bring himself to change out of his scrubs.
Off in the corner of the change room reserved for medical students, he was alone and mostly hidden from the rest of the room. His classmates had told him they’d overheard interesting gossip in the change room, but he’d never approved of eavesdropping. He couldn’t help but listen in when he heard his own name.
“Did you observe Tam’s first surgery today? Lovely bit of work.” Simon bit his lip to suppress a smile.
“Yes indeed, he seems to have an instinct for the job. Highly focused and with a near genius ability to find and fix the problem. He appears a bit… serious though.”
“Yes, he’s a bit idealistic. Lots of spouting that every life is worth fighting for. Ah, he’ll learn that some people simply aren’t worth saving.”
“Or we’ll have more time for golf as he tries to save the world.”
The doors closed on their laughter.
Simon found his hands were clenched into fists. He forced himself to open them, to relax his shoulders. How did someone hold a life in their hands, and decide it wasn’t worth saving? How did someone choose golf over the infinite potential of a human being?
He dropped his wallet, and looked down in surprise.
Now, his hands had begun to shake.