The Brain Tumor


There are few good ways to die.

Amy’s father had recently expired while swimming laps in his retirement community’s pool. There was no lifeguard on duty so his body waited patiently until a fellow swimmer noticed it and alerted authorities. Something of a lonely death, true, but he went out doing what he loved to do. No IV drips, interminable dementia or ass-baring hospital gowns. Just — poof — you’re done. Everyone agreed it was a good way to go.

Amy’s last lap was likely to be more turbulent, according to the neurologist in whose office she sat, listening to him yammer on about her options.

“You can probably buy a few more months with aggressive chemo,” Dr. Brock droned with all the warmth of a car salesman discussing the relative merits of cloth versus vinyl seats. “That’ll give you time to put your affairs in order.”

Put my affairs in order? Amy thought. I’m 25 — I haven’t even had one affair! She imagined the platitudinous twaddle they’d roll out at her funeral. Cut down in her prime, poor girl.  So much potential, they’ll cluck. And the worst: God calls his favorites back early.

“A brain tumor?!!!” Amy shouted. “It’s such a fucking cliché!”

The doctor leaned forward solemnly. “An untimely demise is no excuse for foul language, young lady,” he scolded.

Amy stared at the doctor. She noticed a coarse gray tuft of hair poking out of his left ear — a brazen rodent emerging from its den. She hated Dr. Brock, Dr. Brock and the unsightly appendage that would live on long after she and her pathetically truncated life were forgotten.


Amy grabbed her stainless steel water bottle and pitched it at the doctor’s face with a fury that split his cranium open like a watermelon fallen off a truck.

Dr. Brock marked his own untimely demise with a “Fuuuuuuuuuuuck” as he and his rolly-chair tipped over backwards, landing with a clattering crash.

Amy sprinted around the desk. One look into Brock’s vacant orbs told her that if the tumor didn’t take her out the state would.

She retrieved the murder weapon and stuffed it into her backpack. She’d have to flee the country, of course. Amy scooped her medical chart off the ugly linoleum floor; the MRI would come in handy for some doctor in, say, Rio. Maybe a doctor who would give her a second opinion she could live with.

She glanced at the chart. Amy Mackenblatt. God how she wished she’d kept her maiden name!

Focus, focus.

Ah, the MRI. She reached – something made her look twice.

The name.

Annie Marsprecht.

Not her name.

Not her diagnosis.

“Not my tumor!” Amy screamed at the corpse. She kicked his busted melon, sending the occipital lobe on a swift aerial journey that terminated with a gelatinous splat on a plate glass window. Amy felt strangely vindicated.

But this was no time to party.


Amy thought about how vile the food would be on death row.

She thought about her husband moving on with a saucy young blonde.

She thought about her father’s chlorine-soaked body at the bottom of the pool.


She thought about her new life as the girl from Ipanema.


© Lisa Martinovic