It was a thirty minute drive to the old leper house. I had the serum vial safe in my pocket, and I knew that 5 patients were supposedly ready for treatment, before I made my speech about the discovery. During the tests, the serum seemed like a miraculous cure to leprosy, it could even help regenerate the wounds. Even the nose. First thing to do was to speak to the five. The noseless, faceless, identical looking five entered the waiting room soon after I arrived. I spoke of the cure. One started laughing in her shrill voice, the other exclaimed: “So, will this help us die?” And another patient sighed through the hole that was supposed to be his nose and said: “It’s part of my identity, sir. I want to die a leper, the sooner, the better.” One kept silent. Only one of them was enthusiastic about the cure: she was young, and not totally disfigured by the disease, but morbid and arrogant, and wanted to be the most beautiful leper of them all. But then, when I spoke of leaving the leper house after the treatment, she retreated, and said: “No one will call me beautiful outside the complex. I’m noseless. Not sure if I’d like to grow a new one…”
I thought, if I made the speech, maybe a few among the 80 would change their mind. I stood on the platform and my voice was shaky. A society of the noseless stared blankly into me for a while, later leaving me to speak to empty seats. As a doctor, I never knew leprosy makes people deaf.
I walked out of the building angrily. There was a pandemonium in the pathway; the patients were protesting, and I heard them chanting: “We don’t need a cure! Viva euthanasia!” as I rushed towards the car.
Near the parking lot, I threw the 5 vials I had in the grass, entered my car, and wiped the sweat off my face. I felt my nose beneath my fingers, and then felt an itch all over my face. I looked myself in the rear-view mirror and I saw lacerations, and my nose was… not there…Was my nose missing? I could feel a nose with my fingers, but I saw a hole instead.
“The Leper House” by Pouya Gorji – 2nd Place Winner
Flash Fiction Contest 2016