Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - Diagnosis

The doctor handed me my folder, carefully labelled, immaculate and new. My diagnosis, a rite of passage, to find out exactly what kind of brain disorder I have, and what government benefits I will be entitled to, among other things. Everyone has at least one, and the government bureaucracy is carefully arranged (by the OCD-afflicted bureaucrats) so that everyone pays the right amount of tax to support everyone else's unique needs.

My hands trembled with a little fear, a little excitement as I opened the pages of the report. The summary box on the first page had just one entry: "Neurotypical". I immediately switched over to full-on excitement. Neurotypical! I'd never even heard of that one before, and the rarest disorders get the biggest payouts. I might never have to work at all! My twelve-year-old mind started jumping to all sorts of scenarios of what I could do with my endless leisure time and money to burn.

The doctor must have seen my excitement and got my attention with an awkward cough. When I looked up, my bright hopeful eyes met his deep folds of sadness. His hands unconsciously straightened the items on his desk as he spoke.

"Luke, I don't think you realise quite what your diagnosis means. 'Neurotypical' isn't a disorder. In fact, that's precisely what it means. You have no disorders that I could find."

"But that doesn't make any sense. Everyone's got something."

"Not you, I'm afraid. You're as normal as they come. I'm very sorry." He shifted in his chair.

"Then you made a mistake. Do it again!" I pushed the folder back across his desk, scattering his neatly-arranged paperclips. He took a minute to straighten them before meeting my eye again, and handed me the folder a second time.

"There's no mistake. I called six other doctors to look at your tests. The result is quite conclusive."

"So ... what do I do?" Even as a child I knew the employment system was set up to pair people and their disorders to the perfect career. Without any disorder, they wouldn't know what to do with me.

"There are some other neurotypicals in the city. I can put you in touch with them. Maybe you can join their support group."

I hung my head in defeat. My parents would be devestated. I'd have no job, no money, nothing at all to do for the rest of my life.

"Are you sure there's nothing you can do?"

"No, I'm sorry. Without a brain disorder or injury-"

"Wait, injury? Are you saying if I got a brain injury then my diagnosis would be different?"

The doctor looked nervous for a second, avoiding my gaze. He straightened the papers on his desk absently while he tried to come up with a decent response.

"Yes, well, technically ... a brain injury, if permanent, does qualify as a disorder, but I wouldn't advise ... actually attempting to injure yourself. For one thing, the insurance company wouldn't like it."

"Oh, no, of course not, doctor. Nobody would do that on purpose, would they?" I beamed at him, and he shifted uneasily in his chair again.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Government benefits in this world would have to be quite nuanced and segregated.
PPS - Otherwise nobody would be paying for it.

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