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The Dragonfly

1
PROLOGUE
My name is James Foster, and I am a doctor. To prevent the obvious
question, I come from a town over a hundred miles to the north of Gloucester. Where that
is doesn’t matter in the slightest. It isn’t relevant to the story, except insofar as the
inhabitants of the area are known for their hardheaded, no nonsense or frivolous attitude
to life, an attitude which I may fairly claim I am in full sympathy with.
Having little or nothing in the way of false modesty, I can say that I am a
good doctor. At least, few of my patients die under treatment and of those who do, none
have ever come back to complain. I work in general practice, in partnership with two other,
somewhat younger doctors, on the outskirts of a busy little town, a job that gives me as
much satisfaction now as it did almost thirty years ago when I first started, although I have
a much smaller practice than I used to. Nor do I work as long hours, preferring to give
more time to family life than I once could. Of course, treatments change over the years but
people do not change, at any rate not very much. I’ve reached the stage where I could
safely say that I had seen it all before, and that life had little in the way of surprises. This is
what I thought, and firmly believed, up to a few months ago, up until the time that Bernard
Harris came to see me.
After his visit my comfortable little world was shattered in a way which I
couldn’t even begin to imagine beforehand. Not that anyone would notice. I mean, I
haven’t started to swing from the chandelier, singing Rule Britannia and making monkey
noises at passers by. There’s nothing like that. My wife has probably sensed that I’ve
gone a bit quieter and more reserved, but she certainly puts that down to the strains of
work and the fact that I am winding down towards retirement from a job that I have always
given myself to wholeheartedly, ever since I first qualified. Nor do I wish her to believe
anything else. I love my wife deeply for many reasons, not all of them obvious and I have
no desire to cause her any unnecessary alarm. There is no doubt that I have been given a
great deal to think about and I almost wish that I hadn’t.
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