Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
The exam coming up was very important. Monica sat at her desk, surrounded by open books, colored highlighters and pens, numerous empty cans of seltzer water and a mug with the dried remnants of her morning coffee. Although the sun was going down, she had been too absorbed in her studies to turn on the light.

“It’s so dark in here.” Monica turned around to see her roommate Vera, who was standing behind her with her hands on her hips. Vera was wearing a skirt and a black crop top. She looked nice.

“Are you coming to the party?”

“Sorry...” Monica tried to look apologetic.

“No worries. I’ll probably be back late.” As Vera walked away, she called behind her shoulder, “At least take a break, okay? You know med students need to eat too.”

“Mm-hm.” Monica heard the front door swing closed downstairs and the key turn in the lock. There was so much to remember. She had a good memory, but all this was a lot...the microbes, clotting factors, syndromes, drugs...

It was almost completely dark now and the glow of her computer illuminated her face. Eyes fixed on the screen, she started flipping through the flashcards she had made earlier that day. Thank goodness for mnemonics. “HELLP syndrome,” she said aloud. “Hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelets. DiGeorge syndrome—CATCH-22. Anaerobes: Can’t Breathe Fresh Air. Clostridium, Bacteroides...”

“Management of Acute Coronary Syndrome: MONA BASH. Morphine, Oxygen, Nitrates...”

She squinted at the flashcard. Apparently she had remembered that one wrong. It didn’t say “MONA BASH.”



With a start, she woke up. Her face was warm and pressed into the keyboard. She quickly lifted her head and rubbed her eyes. She hadn’t realized she’d fallen asleep. How long had she been dreaming? Maybe she was pushing herself too hard. She decided to go downstairs to the kitchen and get a snack.

At the top of the stairs, she stopped. There was a voice in the kitchen. It was Vera’s voice. Vera had left, right? She said she would be back late. Or had Monica been dreaming that part too? Wait, that voice was deeper than Vera’s, wasn’t it?

Monica laughed nervously and started heading down the stairs. She was being silly. Her memory wasn’t as good as she thought.