The Wrong Medicine.
Dwynwen Gwilym was a good witch. Well, that’s what she said. The only good witch I’ve ever heard of was in the Wizard of Oz, and that’s just a story. I don’t suppose that you know of any others, but Dwynwen Gwilym insisted, and who are we to argue?
Dwynwen was courting Dr. Pickerty. Dr. Pickerty was older than her. He was a tall, slightly stooped family doctor who wore a dark grey suit. He was slow, but he was thorough, and there were always lots of patients who wanted to see him. He was very pleased that this youngish woman had taken such an interest in him.
They had been going together for a year when Dwynwen decided to tell him how she felt about him. She was not one to skirt around such matters, and so she approached him directly.
“I’ve got two things to say to you, Patrick,” she said. “First of all, and most importantly, I’ve fallen in love with you.” She did not go down on one knee when she said this, nor was she in the middle of preparing a candle-lit dinner. He was sitting in his armchair reading Emergency Weekly. She had just finished hoovering downstairs.
“Secondly,” she continued, “I’m a witch.”
“A witch!” Dr. Pickerty had suspected that she had fallen in love with him, but he had never dreamt that she might be a witch. She did not look like a witch. Her face was round and kind with a neat bob of black hair. She smiled a lot. Her teeth were perfectly straight and very white. She had no warts or hairy moles that he had noticed. She was the sort of person that you would love to have as an aunt. She was homely, motherly and comforting.
“A good witch,” she emphasised, “a white witch.”
“I didn’t know good witches really existed,” he said. “I’m not sure that I believe you.”
But, Dwynwen Gwilym was stubborn. Eventually, she managed to persuade Dr Pickerty that she might be telling the truth. He agreed to get married but, first, they would wait a further twelve months. During that time, she would have to convince him that she was, indeed, a white witch.
* * *
The time passed quickly and many good things happened. The summer was long and hot. The winter was brief and hardly noticeable. Dr. Pickerty’s garden was full of beautiful, rare butterflies. His tulips blossomed like never before. Good fortune befell many members of his family. Somehow, he was always the first to know when these things happened. Four seriously ill patients became miraculously well. Even though he had done very little and, in one case, only prescribed paracetamol, they gave him all the credit.
Like his tulips, his reputation flourished.
Dwynwen Gwilym cleverly never claimed to be responsible for any of these things. Dr. Pickerty was gradually and completely convinced that her magic was, as she said, good magic.
They set a date for the wedding.
* * *
Their first few years of married life passed happily. They had two bouncing boys, Will and Rhys. It would be no exaggeration to say that Dr. Pickerty doted on his new family.
Unfortunately, those blissful years were soon to be over: the family was beset by problems and tragedy.
Dr. Pickerty now had more than twice as many patients. He took on two young doctors to help him. To start with, they worked well with him and respected his age and experience. However, after a while, they began to call him slow and old-fashioned. They told the patients that his treatments were of no use, and that their ideas were newer and better. In the end, they asked him to leave the surgery. His pride was so badly hurt that he agreed to do so. Luckily, a few of his patients stuck with him, so he was still able to earn a little bit of money.
One day, his children disappeared. It had been snowing heavily. They both went to the park to build a snowman, but never returned. He and Dwynwen and, of course, the police and all their neighbours searched everywhere. No sign of the boys was ever found. This was a terrible blow. Dr. Pickerty became very sad. Dwynwen took the loss a little better than he did.
A few weeks later, two statues were delivered. Dwynwen had asked for them to be made. They were exact likenesses of the children. They were as smiling and happy as the boys must have been when they were playing in the snow. When he saw them, Dr. Pickerty began to feel a bit better. He and Dwynwen put them in the garden on either side of the rabbit hutch. He would often go out and sit with them. When he did, he would usually come
back to the house with tears in his eyes.
Although a small number of his patients had stayed with him, Dr. Pickerty looked after them so well that they were never ill. Because of this, he had very little to do, and he hardly earned any money. He and Dwynwen could not even afford proper food or new clothes. They would have to move into a small house. They put theirs up for sale.
Dwynwen Gwilym felt sorry for her husband. He was getting more and more fed up. Sometimes, he stayed in bed all day. She wondered if she should help: she might try a tiny spell.
* * *
It was a Wednesday morning, just after breakfast. “I’m going up stairs,” Dwynwen Gwilym said. “I won’t be long.” Dr Pickerty thought that this was unusual. She always read the paper after breakfast. As soon as she came back down, the phone rang.
“Hallo, it’s Dr. Pickerty,” he answered.
“Oh, Dr. Pickerty. Can you come and see my husband straight away? He’s got terrible tummy pain. I’m really worried about him.”
“Alright, Mrs Milton, don’t panic! I’ll be there in five minutes.”
As he was leaving the house, Dwynwen handed him a bottle of bright green medicine.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“Take it with you. I think that you might find it useful. It’s a very special medicine.”
Dr. Pickerty went to see Mr Milton. He asked Mr Milton lots of questions. Then, he asked Mrs Milton. Mr Milton had been perfectly all right yesterday. Today, he was perfectly awful. Dr. Pickerty gave him a thorough examination. He could not work out what was wrong with Mr Milton, and so he examined him again. He did a blood test. He tested Mr Milton’s wee.
He sat down beside Mr Milton, on the edge of his bed. “Look, Mr Milton,” he said, “I can see you are having a terrible pain. I’ve asked you everything I can think of asking. I have examined you more thoroughly than I’ve ever examined anyone. I still don’t know what’s wrong. I don’t know what to give you. I’m sorry.”
“You must be able to give me something, Dr. Pickerty,” said Mr Milton. Mrs Milton agreed.
“I don’t know.” Dr. Pickerty was frowning.
“You’ll have to. I’m in agony.” Mr Milton pleaded.
Dr. Pickerty handed him the bottle of bright green medicine. “You could try this. My wife recommended it.”
Mr Milton took a large gulp of the medicine.
When Dr. Pickerty went back to see his patient an hour later, the pain had gone and the delighted man was munching his way through a large jar of pickled onions. Both Mr and Mrs Milton thanked Dr. Pickerty over and over again. Mr Milton gave him £50. Dr. Pickerty felt quite pleased.
Next Wednesday, a very similar thing happened. This time, it was Joan Fishly who was ill. She had suddenly become very dizzy. She couldn’t even manage to walk across her bedroom. This time, Dwynwen had given Dr. Pickerty a bottle of dull, purple medicine. Like before, Dr. Pickerty could not work out what was wrong with his patient. He tried the medicine; again, it worked. By the afternoon, Mrs Fishly was up a ladder cleaning the windows at the top of her three-storey house. Mr and Mrs Fishly were very grateful.
On the third Wednesday, Dr. Pickerty had to go and see a small boy. His name was Danny. He had a very bad headache. Dr. Pickerty rushed round to the house but, just before he went, Dwynwen gave him a bottle of yellow medicine.
Dr. Pickerty was very worried about young Danny. He looked really ill. Dr. Pickerty asked Danny’s mum and dad lots of questions. He asked Danny, himself, lots of questions. He even asked Danny’s babysitter lots of questions. He examined him three times. He did all this, and he still did not know what was wrong.
Danny was getting worse by the minute. He could hardly talk. Dr. Pickerty decided to try the yellow medicine. He gave Danny two large spoonfuls. As he gave Danny the last spoonful, the ‘phone rang. It was Dwynwen Gwilym. Danny’s dad passed the phone to Dr. Pickerty.
“Patrick, how’s Danny?” Dwynwen Gwilym sounded very worried.
“He isn’t at all well,” replied Dr. Pickerty.
“Have you given him the medicine?” Dwynwen Gwilym sounded even more concerned.
“Yes, he’s just had it.”
“Patrick, it’s the wrong one! I should have given you the orange one. The yellow one will make him worse.”
Dr Pickerty slammed the phone down, and ran back to Danny. But, there was nothing he
could do. Danny’s headache got worse and worse. His crying got louder and louder. His mum and dad were wringing their hands as they waited.
Suddenly, Danny stopped crying. His parents looked at him. He was completely still and silent. They couldn’t even hear him breathing. They rushed over to him. They called his name. They shook him. There was no response. The poor, little boy was dead.
* * *
Dr. Pickerty was furious when he got home. He started shouting at Dwynwen.
“What have you done? It was you that made them ill, wasn’t it? It was your magic. That’s why your medicines worked for Mr Milton and Joan Fishley. How could you do that to my patients? Danny’s dead. It’s your fault. You’re an evil witch.”
As he shouted, Dr. Pickerty watched Dwynwen’s face intently. She did not look at all sorry. Then, he had a terrible thought.
He ran out into the garden, to the statues. He looked closely at them. They were perfect replicas of Will and Rhys. They were too perfect. Why hadn’t he realised before? He had looked at them every day. He was a fool. He ran back into the house. He was in tears when he spoke to Dwynwen Gwilym. He was so angry that he was shaking. His fists were clenched.
“Turn yourself into stone, now. Go on. That’s what you’ve done to my sons. I hate you. I really do.”
Dwynwen Gwilym was so frightened of him that she did as he said. She turned herself into stone.
* * *
Dr. Pickerty is retired now, although some of his old patients still come to see him and ask him for advice. He has moved into a small flat. You might see him walking slowly around the town. However, most of the time, you will find him sitting in his garden on a red, plastic chair watching his three unmoving, stone statues.