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Editor's Commentary on 'The Emergency Room'

 , April 11, 2014

Blood was spilling everywhere, like a Tarantino movie. In “The Emergency Room” by Dan-Vinh Nguyen, the author quickly jerks our attention into the hospital where a homeless man is quickly bleeding to death. This publication marks our first venture into fictional prose. While the characters are all invented, there are certainly pieces of people we know. This turn to fiction allows the author freedom to explore our deep and uncomfortable thoughts, our hidden biases. The writing takes us down a dark path where a seemingly despicable man is dying and a fed-up doctor seems to let him. We are left with many questions and an uncomfortable feeling in our guts. Does Mr. M have any redeeming qualities? How does one go from carrying a beautiful baby in a pristine photo to bleeding to death in an emergency room from chronic alcohol abuse? What are the limits of empathy? Would we do what Dr. O did? If not, would we want to? Sometimes the most important discoveries about ourselves come from that uncomfortable journey into the murky deep or our minds. This piece of hard-hitting prose pushes us beyond our comfort, perhaps farther than we want to go, but I believe we are better for journey.

We also pair this weeks prose with an artwork from Tyler Bertroche, entitled “Weathered Love”. The distress of the painted heart matches the strain on empathy in “The Emergency Room”. We are pleased to publish these two powerful works together in The Living Hand.

Bryan Sisk, MD
Deputy Editor, The Living Hand