I wrote this story for the course exercise where you had to use an extract from the radio as a prompt, but never posted it on the course site. Therefore nobody has ever seen it, any comments welcome! Thank you.
There it was again. That word. Taunting him again like an ex-girlfriend walking past with her new lover. Melanoma. It even sounded like it could be a woman’s name. A woman with no sense of decency or tact, a woman who did as she pleased and then moved on to the next unwitting recipient of her affections, leaving a wreck of a man behind her who barely comprehended what had happened to him, yet couldn’t forget, couldn’t ‘move on’, no matter how hard he tried. Nigel exhaled loudly, shook his head slightly and switched the radio to a different station. Even on his journey to work he couldn’t escape being reminded about it. Couldn’t there be some place of sanctity, of privacy, that a man could call his own without unwelcome intrusions? He thumped the steering wheel angrily, inadvertently sounding the horn and making himself jump and the driver in front look back at him quizzically. He was proud of his car. He had earned the right to buy himself a decent motor after everything he had been through. But now his enjoyment of the driving experience was tainted. Like biting into a sandwich and finding a hair inside, he couldn’t enjoy anything that followed.
So now they were saying all these lives had been saved, all these melanomas avoided because the hole in the ozone layer was repairing itself. The Montreal protocol was ‘an amazing feat of international collaboration and cooperation’. Well hooray for mankind, hooray for future generations of ignorant teenagers who could go on getting their suntans with impunity. It was too little too late as far as Nigel was concerned.
What had started out as a perfectly good day had now been ruined, Nigel concluded. He knew from experience that he would find it extremely difficult to put the topic from his mind and focus on work. Bitterly he reflected that it was true what they said, once you’ve had cancer once, you never really rest easy again. It’s always there at the back of your mind, like the face of a menacing predator from a bad dream you wish you could erase from your mind. When will it come back again? Not if, but when?
As Nigel pulled into the car park of the Force HQ, he recalled that first trip back into work a year ago, after he had been on sick leave for the previous nine months. That sense of anxiety and apprehension returned to him once more and he felt himself begin to sweat slightly in his cotton shirt sleeves, and his palms grow moist. He pulled down the sun visor to glance briefly at his reflection and ran his fingers over his thinning hairline and across the back of his neck. He pulled slightly at his collar and loosened his blue tie slightly. He rubbed the palm of his hand over the left side of his abdomen, where the skin graft still hadn’t completely faded, maybe it never would. Taking some deep breaths he stepped out of the car.
Theresa from HR took him by surprise with a cheerful, ‘Morning Nigel.’ She clopped past him confidently in her black stilletos and cherry red lipstick, her long black curls swinging carelessly from side to side as she bounced along, all thoughts of Nigel leaving her mind almost as soon as he had entered it he supposed. He stood still and watched her enter the building and the door close behind her, before approaching reluctantly, fumbling for his key card and swiping ineffectively at the reader. Eventually, the door opened again, then closed. Nigel decided he wasn’t going to go in today after all.