An Open Mind: Scene Drafts, part 2

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What the nurse saw:

The nurse thought that Emilio’s condition merited more than a note in his chart, but she knew what the on-call doctor would say: “unusual, but it won’t kill him” – unless it did kill him. Then – well, wouldn’t she be guilty of criminal negligence?


Rosa and Chandran at the doctor’s:

“Don’t worry, Mister and Missus Patel – ”

“Oh – we’re not married. That’s Miz Brancusi.”

“Miz Brancusi – as I was saying – while unusual, your son’s condition doesn’t seem to be having any negative effect on his health. He’s perhaps a little slack-jawed, but he’s also a newborn.”

“You’ve seen cases like this before?”

“Heard of them, heard of them. But we’ll keep a very close eye on his development…”


At the doctor’s again, or, “he talks too much”: 

Emilio’s thoughts, it seemed, hit the senses of other people and fired off the relevant nerves. All of his thoughts could be perceived by all five senses, but who notices a slight, pleasant smell when they are witnessing lightning? The other senses were often overshadowed by whichever dominated the thought. At least, that’s what Rosa understood from the big expert in the field when Rosa and Chandran went to see him about their son. But the doctor spoke to them for a long time, and he had a great deal to say.

“Okay, Mister and Missus Patel – ”

“That’s Miss Brancusi – we’re divorced.”

“Miss Brancusi – my apologies. So I’d like to explain a few things about your son’s condition. Number one: on its own, the condition is harmless. However, there are a number of social anxiety disorders that Emilio is in danger of developing if he is not taught to cope with the level of exposure that his thoughts receive.

“From what we can tell, your son is broadcasting those sorts of electric impulses that our neurons respond to, and other people are able to receive these and translate them into one or more of their five senses. Now, each brain has its own pathways and connections – its own vocabulary, if you will. So it is generally thought that no two people will interpret your son’s – uh – broadcasts – exactly the same.

“This also means that his thoughts, though manifest, may not be actually intelligible beyond an impression or a feeling, or they may be at times clear as a bell – or a crystal radio set. At times, there will be interference – perhaps as Emilio’s surface thoughts differ from his innermost ones. I urge you not to let these manifestations do the talking for your son, and to remember that contemplating a thing and doing it are two very different things.

“Emilio is already a bit of a late talker – make him tell you what he wants rather than relying on his thoughts. Similarly, since he expresses himself above his head rather than through facial expressions, you might have noticed that he is somewhat wooden – rarely smiling or frowning.

“He may in time learn to broadcast only what he wishes others to see. That would be best – after all, we would like to avoid any experimental surgeries, and it really is quite a rare and beautiful ability. But if he cannot, and lives exposed, I fear it will damage him.

“Emilio’s condition is rare indeed. There have only been one hundred recorded cases in the past one hundred and seventy-five years. I have met and studied fifty of those cases, which is why they call me an expert in the field. Well, I tell you, I feel a poor expert indeed. Would you allow me to include Emilio in my studies?”

“Doctor, wouldn’t that only make my son feel more self-conscious? Different?” Rosa was frowning, trying to absorb his diatribe.

“Well, yes, perhaps – but I can help him.”

“You said it yourself: it’s a unique and beautiful ability. Maybe when he’s older, doctor. Let’s let my son enjoy his childhood,” said Rosa.

“Of course, Miss Brancusi. Only be aware of the dangers for Emilio’s sake.”

“We’ll find our way,” said Rosa, picking up her purse and heading out the doctor’s door, shaking his hand gently as she passed.

Chandran signaled to the doctor behind his ex-wife’s back, and offered him a card. He raised his hand to his ear in the universal ‘call me’ gesture, pinky pointed towards his fleshy lips and thumb jammed practically in his ear. Here was a chance to make a little money, perhaps.


Emilio on a talk show:

“Let me try to show you. Okay, so my thoughts – each of my thoughts – have elements that appeal to each of the senses. Only what you’ll usually notice is what’s important about that thought. For example, I’m thinking about coffee right now – it’s warm, it smells good, it tastes like coffee. Okay, and obviously it looks like itself. But what does it sound like? My thoughts don’t fake decibels, but they can still provide aural stimuli. If something’s loud, you can still get the impression of loudness, even without the decibels. Okay, listen carefully. You hear it? The sound of pouring coffee! But you’d never hear it if you weren’t looking for it. Now put your hands up there. Warm, see? Like a coffee cup. Er, if you want, you can lick it…

“Feelings and abstractions are a little weirder. To tell the truth, I don’t much understand how they work myself – something to do with the associative properties of colours…”

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