Extreme Writing Challenge #10: “Diagnosis”

And I’m back!

Following a great suggestion from a reader, I have decided to do things a little differently.  Instead of telling you my challenge up front in each post, I’m going to let you read the story and reveal the challenge at the end.  Hope you enjoy today’s story!


There were two options, the doctor said, and I should take my time to consider them both.

Dexter was with me for the appointment.  He’d requested the day off from work, worried by the thought of me sitting at home alone after hearing the news.

“But what if it’s fantastic news?” I’d asked.

“But what if it’s not?” he’d inquired.

So there we sat, in a warm, brightly lit room with walls covered in certificates and motivational posters, and Dr. Lindstrom strolled in with a thick folder with my name on it.

The cab ride home was silent as I turned over in my head the complicated terms thrown at me in Dr. Lindstrom’s office.  Dexter flipped through pamphlets and brochures, but I rested my head on the cool window and counted the raindrops on the outside of the glass.  I listened to each word, each instrument, and each sound effect in the song playing on the radio.  I allowed the sweat, the smoke, and the dirt of the cab to permeate me.  What was foul to me yesterday was welcome today.

At home, I flopped face-down on the bed and sobbed myself into exhaustion.  Dexter sat in a chair beside the bed, massaging my shoulders.  My phone rang endlessly inside my purse—people who wanted to know, what did I find out?

I told Dexter to go home to Maggie and the kids, but he insisted on ordering takeout and cleaning my living room while I took a hot bath.

The last time I’d had a bath was in my childhood, when I caught mono after sharing sodas with the other kids at school.  Eighteen years later, I couldn’t remember the last time hot water felt so good on my skin.  What other simplicities had I been taking for granted?

It was midnight when Dexter left.  I sat where he left me on the sofa, contemplating the screen on my phone that read, “8 Missed Calls.”  Dr. Lindstrom suggested I take my time to think things through.  My mind had been made up before Dexter and I stepped off the elevator, but I still eyed the pamphlets scattered on my coffee table.  The easy road and the difficult road.  The hopeless road and the hopeful road.

I scrolled through my missed calls and selected the one with my mother’s name.  It was midnight, and she was still awake, anxiously awaiting my call.

“My baby girl,” she says in a voice as soothing as the ocean.

“Mom,” I say, “one way or another, everything is going to be okay.”


Did you figure it out?  This story’s challenge was:  every sentence contains at least one word containing eight or more letters.


One response to “Extreme Writing Challenge #10: “Diagnosis”

  1. Welcome back! I discovered the blog shortly after your last post, and I was sad there were no more. At some point I realized you were the same person behind the Grammaniac blog, and I figured you’d moved on.

    Nice to see you back here!

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