In the Healer's Care
Section I: Episode 29
February 24, 2015
The Healer brought his own face right in front of Boon's, looking carefully into his eyes, and using his hands to feel around Boon's face.
"Disorientation. Lack of concentration."
He moved down the torso and examined Boon's chest.
"The heartbeat slow, and excessive perspiration. … Breathing is good."
He stepped back and gave a huge sigh like a stertorous snort of a horse. Physician Jeers, was his name. Not the highest Healer in Ieik, but a good one.
"I don't know," he finally said. "These symptoms often suggest something serious, but in a healthy young mate who was fine when he got up this morning, it seems very unlikely."
"You were there too, Healer," said Miatysacis. "It was a disturbing vision."
"But nobody else has reported these symptoms." He scratched his beard. "If it were a fast heartbeat rather than a slow one, I'd diagnose anxiety—and I'd be a lot more comfortable about it. As it is…I'm diagnosing slow heartbeat and prescribing you a salt replenisher."
"We use those after training." That was Nightlight.
"It could be that Boon's reaction to the stress of the vision has mimicked the reaction of an athlete's reaction to exercise, the secretion of salt from the body and an imbalance of the nerves."
As Jeers prepared the concoction over at his countertop, Galavar joined Boon—who sat undressed on the exam table at the center of the room—and put his arm around his friend's shoulder.
"How are you feeling?"
"Rotten," said Boon.
"You look rotten too."
Boon smiled weakly.
"Still look better than you."
"Actually," Jeers interjected, his back to them, "you're a bit heavy, Boon. You'd do well if you could lose, oh, an eightertod."★
"Boon," said Galavar, "what did you see in your vision?"
"Ar Nindar ringing. It was too loud, but I couldn't leave it. It felt like it lasted forever…and then it was done." He looked at Miatysacis. "Same as you." Then he looked at Galavar and Nightlight. "Same as everyone, except you two."
"Are you sure? Did you see anything else?"
"You didn't leave the amphitheater like we did?"
Physician Jeers joined them at the exam table, and held out a large clay drinking cup to Boon.
"Drink up. Slowly now."
Boon began to sip on it, and sighed.
"Are you all going to Castings?" Nightlight asked.
"I don't know," said Miatysacis. "I've lost my enthusiasm for services today."
"That might be all the more reason to go. It isn't healthy to be alone and sulk."
"It's my choice to do what I want."
"Are you upset by the deaths?" Galavar asked.
"Are you not?"
"Not really. It's tragic, but it doesn't hurt. I just wasn't close enough to any of them."
"That famous Galavar ice," she said. Then she looked to Nightlight. "And I suppose you're like him?"
"I have to say I am."
Galavar could see it written on her face; Miatysacis was tempted to ask Boon the same thing, anticipating that he shared her own distress. But she did not ask. She must have figured it would be too selfish a question, even for her.
"What about you, Boon?" Galavar asked. "Do you want to go back to services?"
"I'd rather keep you here this afternoon," said Jeers. "I'm not much for going back to services myself, and I may as well be on duty here in case anyone else shows up presenting these symptoms. If you get sicker all of a sudden, I'll be right here."
"Guess I'm staying," Boon said.
"Probably wise," Galavar agreed. "Well," he said to Nightlight, "you're going to Castings?"
"I think so, and it'll begin soon. You coming?"
"I suppose I'm staying with my friends. Thanks for keeping us company. Let's talk again if either of us has any more insights about the vision."
She smiled. "Sure."
And with that, Nightlight rose, bid adieu to the Healer, and took her leave. Galavar joined Miatysacis on a bench at the end of the examination room.
"I wonder if Ornithate and I still have our project," mused Galavar. "I wonder what'll come of Jahvoy."
"Whatever happens to him, you should still carry on with your project. It's special to you."
"But, if the faculty don't—"
"It doesn't matter if it's an official project or not. Do it for yourself. I think Ornithate will still want to do it too."
"Would you be willing to help us out if we need it?"
She grinned. "That's my intention."
Galavar frowned, and was very quiet for a moment.
"You know, Saysh…if I had been the River I would have done the same thing." He looked into her eyes. "Does that make Jahvoy right, or me wrong?"
Jeers joined them at the bench, and sat on Galavar's other side.
"I think it makes you young," he said. "The young don't value life the way we older folks do. You value experience. And," he chuckled, "to be brutal about it, you don't have any appreciation of mortality."
Galavar bristled, but he didn't reply. Nor did Miatysacis, who was off wandering among her own thoughts.
Galavar looked at Boon, sitting there on the exam table, naked as the day he was born, drinking his salt replenisher, looking tired and indifferent. Earlier Boon probably would have joined the argument, but now he barely seemed to notice it.
Boon was his closest friend in the world. Galavar very much cared about him, and reflected on this as he considered the inevitable. Either Boon will come back to health, or he won't. That wasn't ice. That was logic, and it was a good way to deal with crises and the unknown. Getting upset wouldn't change anything.
An eightertod is eighty percent of a toddlerweight, a common nonstandard unit of weight in Ieik. (The one hundred percent amount is called a fulltod.) In other words Physician Jeers is advising Boon to lose about twenty pounds. Plumpness is very uncommon in Ieik, for several reasons, the foremost two being cultural norms and the limited nature of the food supply. The Ieikili thinking is that abundance of fat, especially in youth, is both physically unhealthy and socially extravagant.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!