The Golden Medicine.
Sophie Williams came cautiously into the makeshift consulting room. She negotiated several piles of books and sat down on a wooden, kitchen chair. She glanced around. She was obviously in the doctor’s front room. His desk had been awkwardly positioned in one corner with hardly enough space for either his chair or his patient’s. The remainder of the room made up his living area: a sofa, a small coffee table, a television and a tall lamp. His dinner plate and tea cup were still on the coffee table. Sophie frowned.
Sophie looked directly at Dr Pickerty. She kept her back very straight and her head perfectly still. She crossed her right leg carefully over her left, put her handbag onto her knee and placed her hands on top so that her brightly painted nails were properly displayed. She smiled a small, quick smile.
“And how can I help you?” The doctor asked.
Sophie hesitated, not sure what to say. She lowered her eyes.
Dr Pickerty waited for the young lady to compose herself.
“Something’s not right,” explained Sophie. She looked nervously at Dr Pickerty. He was very old. He had retired years ago. She wondered why she had asked to see him.
Dr Pickerty nodded.
Sophie took a deep breath. “I think I’ve got something wrong with my heart.”
“Right, I see,” said Dr Pickerty. He paused to allow her to continue her story.
Sophie said nothing. She sat quietly. She gently rubbed the polished clasp of her handbag. She looked distinctly uncomfortable.
“Let me see . . . your heart . . .” Dr Pickerty cleared his throat. “ Have you felt out of breath?”
“No,” Sophie gave a very slight shake of her head.
“Have you had any pain, here, in the chest?” Dr Pickerty brought his hand up to his own chest to demonstrate.
“Have your ankles been swollen ?”
“Have you been feeling dizzy?”
“Have you ever fainted?” He raised his eyebrows.
“Mmm . . .” Dr Pickerty peered down at Sophie through his spectacles. “Have you had
“No.” Sophie wasn’t certain what palpitations were.
“Right,” said Dr Pickerty again. “No difficulty breathing, no chest pain and no ankle
swelling?” He looked at Sophie for confirmation.
“No, none of those symptoms.”
“Mmm . . . no dizziness, no faints and no palpitations?” He continued.
“No.” Sophie shook her head once more.
“Are you quite sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure.” Sophie sounded a little bit irritated. She did not have time for
the doctor’s double checking procedures.
Dr Pickerty looked puzzled. “Well, if you haven’t got any of those symptoms, why are
you worried about your heart?”
Sophie paused. Her face flushed a deep red. Her top lip quivered.
“Yes . . .” Dr Pickerty tried to encourage her.
“I just am.”
“You must have some symptoms.”
Sophie looked down at the desk. She seemed to be thinking hard. She was frowning.
She clenched her hands.
“I’ve never been able to fall in love.” Sophie eventually managed to blurt it out. Dr
Pickerty nodded and smiled. Sophie did not think he looked at all concerned. She folded her arms tightly across her chest.
“I’m 18 years old,” Sophie continued forcefully. “I’m 18 years old and I’ve never been
“You are still young,” Dr Pickerty reassured her. “You’ve got plenty of time.”
“My friends have all been in love. It’s happened to Mary Blake six times.”
Dr Pickerty chuckled. “Why are all you young people in such a hurry to do everything? I
don’t understand it.”
“I just wanted you to check my heart,” Sophie protested. “I thought it might be too
small or maybe damaged.”
“I don’t think so,” said Dr Pickerty. “But, I will check it for you.” He stood up,
picked up his stethoscope and went to examine Sophie. He listened to her heart, moving his stethoscope to several different points on her chest.
“It sounds fine to me,” he said.
“Well, if my heart is fine, why can’t I fall in love?” Sophie wasn’t satisfied. “I have
tried as hard as I can. I have been out with loads of boys. They fall in love with me, straight away, but I have never fallen in love with any of them.”
“Look,” said Dr Pickerty, “love is not just about your heart.”
“Most of them were really good looking.” Sophie could not help looking a little pleased
with herself as she said this.
“Maybe you are trying too hard,” Dr Pickerty suggested. “People fall in love when they
least expect it. You just need to be patient.”
“I don’t want to be patient. Everybody falls in love. There must be something seriously
wrong with me.” She blinked once as she spoke and a single tear rolled down her cheek.
Dr Pickerty sighed. He felt sorry for this unhappy girl. He reached down into the
cupboard under his desk, and took out a small bottle. He put it onto the desk in front of Sophie. The bottle was old and dusty. It contained a thick, golden syrup that glistened when it caught the light. The bottle was one third full.
Sophie sniffed disdainfully.
Dr Pickerty raised his eyebrows. “I could prescribe this for you. It might do the trick.”
“It looks old.”
“It is very old. I’ve had it for 30 years. As far as I know, it’s the last remaining bottle.” Dr Pickerty picked the bottle up and turned it in his hand. “It looks fine to me.”
“Will it work?”
“I can’t make any promises, but I think so.” Dr Pickerty actually sounded very
“I’ll try it, then,” said Sophie. She looked relieved at last. She sighed, relaxed her
shoulders and leant back against the chair.
“Now,” explained Dr Pickerty. “It will not work immediately. You take one teaspoon
every morning for a week: not a drop more. There should be just enough left in the bottle. It could take up to 12 months to have an effect. You must still be patient.”
Sophie nodded obediently.
“You must promise me one thing,” continued Dr Pickerty. “This is very important.”
“Yes.” Sophie agreed quickly.
“Whatever you do, you must not try to fall in love. In fact, I would suggest you do
exactly the opposite. Be determined not to fall in love. I know that sounds strange, but it’s that sort of medicine. That is my recommendation. Can you do that?”
“Oh . . . and don’t come back to see me after you have taken it, not ever.”
Sophie looked puzzled but agreed.
As soon as Dr Pickerty had finished speaking, she stood up and took the bottle. She
looked closely at it, turning it in the same way that Dr Pickerty had. She put it into her bag and thanked the doctor.
Dr Pickerty smiled. “If you do exactly as I have said, I am certain you will fall in love.”
Dr Pickerty chuckled quietly to himself as Sophie left the room. He was quite sure that
she would soon fall in love. He knew this because the medicine was the same one that he had given to his wife, Dwynwen Gwilym, when they first met. It had worked immediately. Then, more recently, he had tried it on the pretty, young girl who had been cleaning for him for the last three months. On Friday, after only three doses, she had grabbed him and kissed him passionately. This morning, she kissed him again and agreed to marry him. She was nineteen years old and Dr Patrick Pickerty was seventy eight. He had no doubt that it was a wonderful medicine.