Harsh, the fluorescents of the radiologist’s office; stiff, the small metal chairs; wrinkled, the suit worn by the concert pianist who waited to hear about his seizure.
His collapse during the final bar of the previous night’s performance had sent him straight to the hospital. After an interminable wait, and as the sky outside began to lighten, the doctor walked in and hung up a transparency.
“I’m afraid I have bad news. Hypertrophy of the frontal lobe.” She pointed at the image; really just a smudge to the untrained eye. “You’ll have five months, maybe six.”
“Can you fix it?” the pianist asked, frightened, looking twenty years older than just a few hours before, deep into a Beethoven sonata in front of a rapt audience.
“There’s a procedure. It would give you some more time, but would also diminish your musical talents. I’m sorry.”
“No.” The pianist stood up. “Music is my life.”
On his way out he paused and said, almost in a whisper, “Please don’t tell my son that I refused treatment.”