2022; the year in which Smartphones and social media reached a popularity beyond our imagination. Social media is everything . . . and everything is social media. Planet Earth has become one big zone, fascinated by devices.
This is intended for the Quibblo story contest, and if you think this story should be one of the winners (it's a long shot, but if you do, thanks a bunch!), please do rate! (: I appreciate any constructive criticism. Enjoy!
In Boston, Massachusetts, stood a clearly expensive building; tall and broad, seemingly built out of only windows at first sight. They reflected their surroundings fiercely; it didnâ€™t take a professional eye to know that whoever was in charge of keeping everything tidy and organized executed their job well (or rather, made sure others executed their job well). A large plaque announced that this was the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
In the past decade, their beds had accumulated from thirty to sixty; adding extra rooms to support more cancer patients. Long term radiation of the many electronics present in the average household had caused the numbers of patients to build up tragically. Annually, over three thousand people who suffered from any sort of cancer were treated here, usually by chemoâ€”breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, genitourinary cancers, head and neck cancers, sarcomas, thoracic cancer, lymphoma and cancers of the central nervous system.
In one particular bed, with the hospital sheets drawn up all the way to her dark throat, was a thirty-five year old woman by the name of Petronella Garber-Smith. She breathed in and out slowly, and her eyes darted across the room. They tried to avoid the vase full of wilted flowers that stood on the nightstand. A card dangled from the neck of the dead bouquet, but the only decipherable word was â€˜Nellieâ€™, presumably a nickname for the dying person.
Petronella Garber-Smith had been an oncology patient at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for the past eight months now, and it was obvious to every person around her that the chemotherapy wasnâ€™t working. Her malignant brain tumor had ruined the life she could have had, and even Nellie herself (although she was quite the pigheaded warrior) knew that unless some miracle medicine would magically appear like in those old Harry Potter movies sheâ€™d enjoyed as a kid (outdated now, of courseâ€”these days, everyone had three-dimensional televisions, and a scent option was available for those who wished to undergo all senses while watching), she would probably die soon.
â€œHello, Ms. Garber-Smith,â€ a cheery voice said. Nurse Sarah Whitmore walked in and drew the curtains open, flashing her hundred dollar smile at Petronella all the while. Her wispy blonde hair was tied into a tight pigtail, which made her look older than she really was. â€œHow do you feel today?â€
â€œJust fine, sweetheart,â€ Nellie muttered gruffly, lifting one hand feebly to rub her bald head. Despite being long used to having it that way, the sensation of the naked skin under her palm still felt odd. She naturally assumed it wasnâ€™t something sheâ€™d get used to, not even in the long run. If there was a long run.
If Sarah had detected the sarcasm in Nellieâ€™s tone, she chose to ignore it. â€œWell, thatâ€™s great,â€ she chirped, scribbling down something on the notepad that was always present in her breast pocket. Pausing for a moment, she scratched her cheek and offered the forged smile again. Nurses and stewardesses had mastered the art of smiling for sureâ€”it was a blasted miracle, because Nellie found herself grinning back; albeit with a hint of sullenness in her eyes.
â€œYeah, I guess so,â€ she croaked in response, glancing out of the window. The painkillers were doing their job well. Her eye met the large commercial banner on the building opposite her, depicting the moving image of a good-looking woman playing with her new Smartphone; smiling as if this innovative device would solve all her problems. Haâ€”as if!
â€œWant to say hello to your family today, Ms?â€ Sarah asked, jerking her head at the camera in the corner. â€œI bet theyâ€™re just as excited for your upcoming treatment as you are.â€ She beamed again and nodded, unaware that a spot of red lipstick was present on one of her front teeth. â€œUpdates make the world go round, Ms. Garber-Smith. Donâ€™t know where we would be without themâ€”people would whine about visitor hours all day.â€ Scribbling something else down as the patient didnâ€™t respond, Sarah waved at the camera and quitted the room.
Turning her head to face the unblinking lens, Nellie lifted her hand and forced a smile. â€œThereâ€™s your update,â€ she said softly. She imaged her themed Facebook profile, thought of the jingling noise her computer would make at home to announce that people were thumbing up her status for all to see; Petronella Garber-Smith, the woman who fought cancer with ferocity and would (most certainly!) win. Part of her longed for her laptop, Kindle and Smartphone. Part of Nellie Garber-Smith, despite having a malignant brain tumor caused by long term radiation of all her devices, wanted them more than anything.
Maybe even more than life.