The Arm is Called a Brachium
Chapter 1

The arm is called a brachium. Brake-it…umm… Sounds stupid, right? What the hell's wrong with just calling it an arm?

Stupid names. Why they bother with all these names – pfft. I don't know. Why we can't all do with one name – Carrying a million differently named things around…

Not a million? You wanna bet? Arm, brachium, shoulder…what else is that stupid joint called again? Glenoid – there's another one: glenoid fossa – or cavity or whatever the fuck we're supposed to put on our exams… Seriously, with all these names how can you say one's right and one's wrong? Lazy bastards who won't mark papers and just put them through machines who can't think for their brains – Not saying machines even have brains or anything like that. I'm no "wants AIs to take over the world" person.

What else is there? Humerus – what's so funny, I don't know - especially since the so-called "funny bone" is actually the ulna. Alnarr – all-nar? Altar? Course it's all latin so it's not supposed to come with convenient english translations…or even transliterations. Excuse me for not having a latin accent.

Do I look latin? Hell, no. Blind if you think so, lovely. Or ugly. S'not like I can see into the futures through these pages. Now, there's an idea. Righty-screwy lefty-loopy…

Yeah, med students are crazy. You're just realising that? Surgeons? Of course they're crazier. They had to get through med school first after all. And even more anatomy than's doing my head in.

Something to look forward to, I guess.

Ooh, the head. Let's see. The ear's an easy one, right? Tiny little thing. Bit of bone and cartilage. No muscle. Right?

Buzz. Wrong! Three bones (one of them's Staples!), a shit-load of cartilage and…how many muscles again? Three? Thirty? I'm sure three's a theme of some sort.

I am so going to fail next week.

"Hey! How many muscles are there in an ear?" And what the fuck are you rolling your eyes at, Bowman?

"Three." Thinks he's cool with that drawl while half-pissed. No-one cares, dude. We're all half-pissed. "Unless you're a cat. They've thirty-two."

Fucking hate cats. As soon as I found out they were toxic - Toxo…stupid names again.

Two weeks. Anatomy gets one before the boot.

Kick a week early and it sails through the air. Nice mental image. Click.


Can't stop staring, Bowman? "Drunk that much yet?" Hmm, tone's not lazy enough yet. Not to mention this brain going a meter an hour. Another can or two. Standard drinks - oh, who cares about those. Already did that exam.

Shakes his head now. Too cool to get drunk uptight prick. 'xcept we dragged him out, didn't we.

Not that I did anything? Shut it. I'm moral support.

"If you're worried, you should go home and study."

Cue the rolling on the floor laughing moment. No study tonight, sor-ree.

See? Agreement too.

"Study drunk? Might as well do a bypass while stoned, right?"

Thank you, Seagull. Chelsea – whatever.

Names suck.

"Stoned is for drugs. And who's going to ask a student to do a bypass?"

Party pooper Bowman.

Ah, that hits the spot.

"Safe to drive?"

Snort. "Seagull, I live across the street. Roll out of bed to anywhere I want to go." And it's the life too. No travel. Eight's the earliest I get up - which is still fucking early…

'Course, just wait till intern-hell. Hear there're a lotta forty-eights.

"Right." Silly habit, playing with hair. They're not such fast growers that every strand pulled out will come back like magic. That's cancer, hun.

She's going to be bold before she's twenty.

…hang on. This is post-grad hell. She's already twenty. At least. "How old'r you again?"

The lovely unexpected question that makes a brow furrow. Gotta love it. Makes the eyebrows raise too, apparently. "Trying to hit me up? I'm thirty-two."

Shit, that was old. Wasting her life away in med school…

"What'd you think?"

Stupid women. They love asking those questions, don't they?

Honesty's the best policy. Except when you're telling the board how fucked up their course is. Or the language-makers how fucked up languages are… And when you don't have a fucking clue of course. Going for the average tends to work then. "Twenty-five?"

"Long telomeres." She's got the dark humour down pat. The sweet-looking grin that makes drug-users blurt out their entire history could use some work though. "I'll get cancer by forty, I'm sure. Unless I get knifed by the usual wild guys" Right, like that's usual. "West." Okay, that explains it.

"There're really crazy knife guys at the West?" Didn't think I believed those horror stories. Never saw anyone come in waving a knife. Then again, South ain't West.


Wouldn't it be lovely to pull that Bowman's tongue out? Lovelier still to take it along in my pocket and stare at it whenever I need to work out which -hyoid or -glossus or whatever the fuck the other tongue muscles are.

A tongue-sized cheat sheet. I need to save that mental image.

"…walking around with your eyes in your ass?" Whoops, missed part of that rant. "Haven't you been down to ED after seven pm?"

"Don't you go home by five?"

Go home by five? No wonder this guy's a closet-study. Not that it's new news. Not that I know the Westies that well on the whole, but the closet-studiers stand out. They're the ones you hardly see around. The one who don't come to camp or cans night or most of the get-drunk parties and crap like that.

Which is why whoever dragged Bowman out of bed is a miracle worker. Though not a welcome one.

Could do without mister party-pooper. Handy person to have ten minutes before the exam though. Last minute poofs and all.

"I'm going home."

And there you go. Thank you, Bowman. Go back to looking cool in front of your books and your mirror. Enjoy your fucking study date.

Then the dreaded yawn creeps in.

"You too?"

"Nope." Yawn equals bored. Med school equals tired. And when we're interns, pagers equal no sleep at all. Now, those are simple equations. Mick and Mint…Michaelis-Menten or some shit like that. The equation's simpler than the name, but not simple. Or useful. Never actually needed it.

'xcept for exams.

Yes, thank you little joy kill in my head. I do know that equation. Really? You want to hear it? Here you –

Uurgh. Awful chair dragging sound. Why people think nails on a chalkboard are the worst, I don't know. Chairs scraping are worse.

Least it means no more Bowman.

Thank you, cheerful little bugger. I can see that. Now what do you think's with his head? Low oxytocin. High cortisol. Is he a virgin? Probably. You want to ask? Be my guest.

"Time to kick this party up a notch."

My thoughts exactly, Seagull. My thoughts exactly.

Hmm…the smells are changing too. Cigs. Of course. Nothing like lung cancer the week before finals.

"Cervix." She sounds lazy. Casual. "Lung. Skin. Oral. Which one's best?"

"Lung." Of course. Won't get any sex with the others. "Though I suppose you could do pancreas or bladder."

"Hmm…" See, we're all crazy, we med students. Considering which cancer's the best to die of. "Pancreas is hard to catch, isn't it?"

"Yep." Can is empty. So is pocket. Not the night though. Still young. Still bright. I want another one.

'Course, we're all in the same boat. Broke, half-drunk and caught somewhere in between medicine and bliss.

"Means you get to die quick after you know." Oh, she's got that awful puffing habit too. "Sorry; you don't like that?"

"Getting smoke blown in my face? Not particularly. Smoke itself – no money."

"Parents." Of course; the perfect solution…if you live at home. Which ain't an option when home is across a deep dark stormy ocean –

Yeah, chose an awful day for a flight, I know. But how was I supposed to know the sky was going to crack just then?

"When they pay for the fees and accommodation and all that crap, then there's a bit of loose change from weekend jobs."

The price paid for travelling in every day. Though more money would be nice.

Yep, we'll be rolling in dough once we're certified. With beer cans and cigarettes and the odd tie to spend it on.

"What's the job?"


All those fucking drug names. Worse than anatomy. "You're going to ace this exam, aren't ya?"

"Nope. I'll call triceps trimeth and flunk the whole thing." And what the fuck is trimeth? "Trimethoprim. Antibiotic. Folate antagonist."

Lovely. She caught the deer-caught-in-the-headlights look.

"Cool. I'll keep you in the back pocket for pharmacology and old Bowman for anatomy."

I don't see what's so cue-roll-on-the-floor-laughing funny.

"Who's Bowman?"

…fucking names.