Title: Daisy’s Choice
Author: Mike Owens
Genre: General fiction
Nothing to live for…that’s how eighteen-year-old Daisy Sugarbush feels after an explosion inflicts deep burns over seventy percent of her body, condemning her to six excruciating months in the hospital, where her pleas to stop treatment, just let her go, are ignored.
Blind and horribly disfigured, she wishes only to end her wretched life as soon as possible. Then a new therapist, Arthur, a huge, scarred man with one eye, enters her life with other ideas. But can he succeed where so many others have failed?
I shouldn’t be here. I don’t want to be here. It didn’t have to be this way. Right after the blast, after they dragged out the smoking bundle of what was left of me, I heard a neighbor say, “God almighty, she’s still breathing. Call an ambulance.”
A wiser voice asked, “What for?”
Exactly. Better they should have left me in the rubble, but I screwed up. I breathed, and someone saw it.
“Thank God, you’re alive,” Mom kept saying.
You got it backward, Mom. I would thank God if I weren’t alive. If the Big Guy had an ounce of compassion in Him, He would have taken me off the list right then and there and saved me all those months in purgatory.
Early memories of that event were vague to nonexistent. I remembered bits of conversation between the EMTs during the ambulance ride. “Holy shit, I never saw anything like this.”
I guessed he was talking about me.
“Best thing, give her a big slug of morphine, get it all over with.”
Now you’re talking. Go right ahead, the bigger the slug the better. I swear, I won’t tell a soul. And when I get to the Big House, I’ll put in a good word for you.”
But my bad luck held, and I arrived at the hospital alive, more or less. About that time, I realized that nothing worked. I could hear a few snatches of sound, but my arms and legs wouldn’t do what I wanted, and worst of all, I couldn’t see a damned thing.
“Get a tube down her throat, quick.” A masculine voice, sounded like the commander-in-chief.
Put a tube down my throat, just like they’d done to Dad when he was in the hospital, and all those other poor souls in the ICU, like so many potted plants. The ventilators all going click-wheeze, click-wheeze, click-wheeze. Still gave me nightmares. No, no, no, please, no tube. I lost.
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If we have a right to live, should we not also have a right to die? Daisy Sugarbush, blinded, disfigured and helpless after she’s torched in an explosion, claims such a right, rather than endure a “life” of endless pain and suffering…no life at all. But the health care system and even her own mother refuse to accommodate Daisy’s pleas to stop treatment, to just let her go. A conflict between powerful opposing forces develops with Daisy caught in the middle.
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A native Tar Heel, Mike Owens obtained his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, and later, an MFA in creative writing from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, where he now resides. His topics in fiction vary widely, ranging from science themes to end-of-life issues to erotica…go figure!
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