The discovery of a strange blue dot on his ear changes the way our protagonist is perceived by others, but at least his blood pressure is normal…
That’s good, isn’t it?
Maki Morita returns to the short list with this story about a rare skin condition.
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THE BLUE DOT
Short Story | About A Rare Skin Condition
By Maki Morita
For the ‘Prognosis Negative’ Contest
Recently a blue dot has appeared on my ear. And not the dark, murky sort of blue that can appear on your skin from a bruise, but a blinding neon blue – screaming for attention from the crevices of my right ear. It started as a pinprick, barely discernable. But day-by-day it has grown larger and larger, taking form as a prevalent aspect of my ear.
Joanna notices it when we’re in bed. Her arm is pressed warm against my chest as she plants kisses up my shoulder.
The kissing stops and she screams, ‘What the fuck! Honey!!’
I feign ignorance.
‘There’s a blue… thing on your ear!’
‘What do you mean?’
She throws the sheets off and pulls me to the bathroom. I find myself being held to the mirror, skin close and pink and raw in the reflection.
‘Look, there!’ she yells, pointing at the dot.
‘Honey, you need to go to the doctor.’
Joanna returns to the bedroom and rummages around in the drawers. She pulls out a crumpled piece of paper and reads out the number of our local clinic – which I dial. After a long wait on hold, a pleasant receptionist answers. She informs me Doctor Smythe is available at 2.30pm this coming Thursday.
But today is Tuesday. So for now, Joanna spreads foundation on my ear. Although this conceals the alarming blueness of the dot, it doesn’t fully hide its distinctive lumpiness.
So on Wednesday I decide to wear headphones – in the belief that this will safely tuck my ears away from the scrutiny of the world. But once I get to the office, I realise I have to take them off. My colleagues squirm in confrontation with the blue dot, but try their best to be polite.
On Thursday I finally visit the clinic. I meet Doctor Smythe, whose beard is impeccably clean and incredibly white – like his coat.
‘I will proceed by running some general healthchecks.’
Doctor Smythe plants his stethoscope to my chest. He nods at my heartbeat, eyes glazed in concentration. He takes off the stethoscope and tells me to insert my arm into a machine, so I do. The machine squeezes my arm, squeezes it a bit more… then lets it go. He peers at the numbers that appear on the machine while scribbling down some notes.
Maybe I have contracted a rare skin disease. Maybe the blue dot is a life-threatening tumour. Maybe I will die tomorrow.
‘You are perfectly healthy.’
‘You have a healthy heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure.’
‘But, what about the blue dot?’
‘What about the blue dot?’
‘Well, why is it there?’
‘I’m terribly sorry about this, but I can’t be for certain. I’ve never seen such a thing before.’
‘But isn’t there a pill or a cream or something I can buy that will make it go away?’
‘Not that I’m aware of.’
I want to say something but my lips flap around uselessly, unable to form words.
‘Keep up the good work! Try to maintain regular exercise, a balanced diet and drink plenty of water’
Doctor Smythe ushers me out the door.
‘Enjoy the rest of your afternoon.’
The door clicks shut and the room swallows him in.
So that concludes my appointment with Doctor Smythe.
On my way home, I notice the presence of the blue dot with an intense, unwavering attention – its weighty substance venturing out from my ear into the vast recesses of space.
A weight, I suppose, I will now have to live with.