by Dee Dee Foland
Frederick, Maryland

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apparently, Mrs. Keifer hasn't had many apples lately because she has decided to go to the doctor for head pains she's been having for the past several months. She made an appointment and soon found herself in a cold room smelling of medicine and plastic waiting for Doctor Hilyard's return. About a half an hour later the doctor returned with a look of disturbance and spoke softly…."Mrs. Keifer, I don't want you to be alarmed but, your X-rays show some dark spots on your cranium so, I think it best we run some tests. Not knowing how to respond to this, Mrs. Keifer nodded with a continued stare of disbelief. On the way home in her car all kinds of thoughts were running through her head. "What could it be?" "Maybe it's nothing." "I don't have insurance!" "Who will cover the cost of these tests?"

Mrs. Keifer had been waiting for a reply for about a week now and finally she heard the piercing ring of the telephone that made her heart seem to be in her ankle. After the second ring, Mrs. Keifer gulped and answered "Hello?" "Mrs. Keifer?" "Yes?" "This is Doctor Hilyard, Mrs. Keifer I'm sorry to break this to you over the phone but, I thought you'd want to know as soon as possible…I'm afraid the tests showed you have cancer of the brain and in your lymph nodes and in places we won't dare to operate, we could try Chemo therapy and…" his voice seemed to trail off to Mrs. Keifer because she was in such shock and horror and didn't even know what Doctor Hilyard was saying anymore.

That night, with her husband asleep, Mrs. Keifer lie in bed thinking of how she couldn't place this great burden on her family. She thought how she didn't want her daughter to see her when she became sick and how the expenses would put a debt on her husband forever. Mrs. Keifer could only think of one solution. She got out of bed, being sure not to wake her husband, walked to her daughter, Sidney's room to take one last look. Then, she went to the living room to write a letter to them both. She left it on the kitchen table on her way out the door. Mrs. Keifer got in her car and drove to the lake on the other side of town, and she kept driving until the water was coming in the car, she thought to herself over and over that this was the best thing for everyone. She took one last breath and the night swallowed her whole.

The next morning, Sidney and her dad busily got ready for school and work, not even noticing the letter in the kitchen. "C'mon dad I'm going to be late for school" said Sidney. "Where is your mom?" replied Mr. Keifer. "I don't know, I guess she went to work early, let's just grab something to eat on the way?" said Sidney. About 10 seconds after the front door shut, the telephone rang 4 times until the answering machine picked up. "Hello Mrs. Kefier this is Doctor Hillyard, I cannot express how sorry I am for this horrific mix up, it turns out my assistant nurse accidentally switched tests with another patient so, you don't have cancer at all! You've really only been suffering from migraines, come in my office as soon as you can so I can prescribe some medicine for your headaches. Again, I am truly sorry for this mix-up and I hope this didn't cause your family any damage or heartache." Beep…