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One morning, Ron was running late to clinic. He tossed some muffins into his white coat pockets, clipped his badge to his collar, and thundered down the stairwell at the back of the building.

Until that moment, it was a morning like any other. As soon as he walked out the doors of his dormitory, however, Ron sensed that something was very wrong.

Suspended from the clouds above, swaths of gray shadows lay draped over the turrets and clock towers of the hospital campus. As he willed his arms and legs to move, a clammy haze clung to Ron’s skin like soiled Saran wrap. Passersby on the sidewalk spoke in hushed whispers, hunched over each other’s shoulders with facial expressions reminiscent of freshly-bathed housecats. Ron blinked rapidly in an effort to convince himself that he was imagining things – this was just a typical overcast day, the sticky film around his neck came from yesterday’s laundry he was wearing today, those people over there were grouchy about the fact that Friday was two days away – but none of his theories explained the overpowering atmosphere of dread.


As Ron strolled through the employee entrance of the clinic, one of the nurses turned from her chair at the computer station.

“Good morning!” greeted the nurse with a smile. Within a half-second, however, the nurse’s shoulders slumped, and her vocal pitch dropped by an octave. “Well, actually, it’s not a good morning, but still.”

In the break room, Ron found all of the nurses stuffing their mouths with baked goods: oatmeal raisin cookies and blueberry donuts, chocolate wafers and Animal Cookies for People.

“Ron, dear.” Ms. Hooch called from the counter with her spatula in hand. “You’re welcome to some fresh cake, if you like.”

“What is it?” asked Ron.

“Commiseration Carrot Cake,” said Ms. Hooch. She paused to breathe out a deep sigh. “Mafalda baked it this morning.”

“That’s right!” exclaimed Ms. Hophirk through a mouthful of treats, all the while gesturing with her arms like flapping cockroach wings. “That will show them, the ignorant fools! Let them eat cake!”

Back in the office, deafening sighs reverberated throughout the walls at a steady rate of ten beats per minute. Ron’s neighbor, Ms. Sprout, was a sweet lady in her early sixties who enjoyed babysitting patients’ children and passing out cookies on rainy days; today, however, she was also the loudest and steadiest sigher of them all.

“Are you okay?” Ron asked as Ms. Sprout expired a particularly melancholy breath of air.

Ms. Sprout grimaced at the computer screen. “I just woke up feeling… crappy.”

“Well,” said Ron, trying to conceal a smirk, “The weather is quite crappy today.”

“Not the weather,” said Ms. Sprout, sighing two seconds ahead of schedule. “It’s that.

“Oh, yes, that thing.” Ron grinned at Ms. Sprout. “But at least the sun rose in the morning.” He glanced over his shoulder at the nearest window. “Well, sort of.”

Ms. Sprout burrowed her fingers into her hair and let out a deep, protracted groan. Ron looked up from his patient’s chart to smile kindly at his neighbor.

“It looks like a severe subtype of Eeyore Syndrome has spread rampant throughout the campus overnight,” he said.


Ms. Sprout snorted into her coffee. “I guess you could say that. But I would much rather feel like that bouncing character– what’s his name? Tigger?”

“What a great idea!” said Ron. He wasted no time before breaking spontaneously into song.

“The wonderful thing about TIGGERS!

is Tiggers are wonderful THINGS!

Their tops are made out of rubber!

Their bottoms are made out of springs!

They’re bouncy trouncy flouncy pouncy

fun fun fun fun FUN!

but the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is I’M the only one.

I’M the only one!


As Ron completed his song with a half-growl, half-meow, Ms. Sprout threw back her head and laughed heartily at the lightbulbs on the ceiling.

“Thanks for that,” she said. “It feels good to laugh.”


That was an easy one. There were other encounters in which Ron had to work much harder at lightening the mood, however, because he sensed that the Tigger song would only aggravate their nerves even further. Some friends wrote to him describing how embarrassed they were to talk to him, and some friends were too embarrassed to talk to him at all.

Truth be told, even Ron, who prided himself on his stalwart immune system, was beginning to feel the chills and myalgias associated with Eeyore Syndrome. To make matters worse, he was studying at a new hospital for several weeks, and his old school friends were all fifty miles away – the equivalent of an entire solar system on the scale of medical student time management. He desperately needed a positive inspiration, something that would help him overcomb the Dark Forces encroaching on their world.

That evening, Ron and his new dormmates conglomerated once again in the common room. There was no fireplace, only a pool table and that monstrous TV screen they had gathered around yesterday. They pushed the accessory furniture into the laundry room and arranged the sofas and armchairs in a circle around the coffee table.

In preparation for the meeting, Ron had printed a poster of Harry Potter at the Department of Mysteries: his eyes fierce and vigilant, his head turned to keep watch over his shoulder, his slender wand held poised to defend against darkness from all directions. Ron had first laid eyes on this image more than a decade ago, but it now carried a newfound significance. It symbolized the power of young people to raise their voices above the cacophony of foolishness, and to stand up in peaceful resistance for the sake of their futures. Ron held the poster on his chest as he rose from his seat to address the gathering.


“We are the Order of the Phoenix, and we are not going to fight back,” said Ron. “We are better than that. We are going to heal back.”

The medical students raised anything they could find – their stethoscopes, reflex hammers, feathered quills, and coffee mugs – and raised them to the sky.

Heal back,” they said together.

Their voices echoed softly at first, rising like the rumble of an infant storm; and then, in one fierce moment, they crescendoed into a sonic boom, uniting as a bolt of thunder that resounded through the windows into the icy night.

Heal back! HEAL BACK!”