copyright © 2004 by Adam Hahn

Workaday #6: My Contribution to Medicine
by Adam Hahn


Improvise an introduction, explaining the job of a simulated patient, someone who pretends to be sick to aid the training and evaluation of medical students. Explain that the following is intended for performance by one actor in his underwear, alone in a room with cameras and a microphone mounted in the ceiling. Remove clothing and claim that this piece is about, "something that really happened to me during the time I lived in Canada."

This is a true story of the night I met the mother of my children.

I wasn't looking.

I didn't intend to go through her belongings. She was in the bathroom when I lifted her bag off the bed and the letter fell out.

I didn't mean to read it. I picked it up, and I noticed it opened with, "Goodbye." Once you realize you're looking at something that might be a suicide note, you can't stop reading it.

According to this letter, sixteen copies had been mailed to people who had rejected or failed her in some way.

The letter described the hotel where she and I were staying. It set a deadline, now under two hours away. Apparently, it was her fantasy that all of her failed friends and lovers would arrive together to rescue her and beg forgiveness.

She would later tell me that the clerk at the stationery store had falsely assured her that the non-standard envelopes she purchased would require no additional postage to arrive on time.

By the night of her deadline, not one copy had been delivered. A few would reach their destinations weeks later with additional postage due. Most were simply lost by Canada Post.

Of course, neither she nor I knew that we were the only living souls who had read the letter. We only knew that her deadline was eighty-seven minutes away, and no one had yet asked her to cancel her plans.

I decided that the only rational course of action was to get the hell away from her as soon as I could locate my wallet and at least fifty percent of my clothing.

In the hotel bar, I had taken her red eyes and instant physical proximity as signs of intoxication. When she invited me to her room, I hadn't cared about the nature or depth of her desperation.

I replayed the slow and deliberate way she had kissed me, trying to remember any sign of sorrow or resignation.

The bathroom door opened, and it was too late to run away.


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