The conference hall vibrated with the excitement of a thousand attendees. Bursts of applause and appreciative cries shot around the room. The speaker on stage paced up and down, punctuating rounds of rhetoric with slashes of her hands. This would be better, that would be different, something was great, but something else was greater.
Backstage, Miranda Rowley sat unaffected by the proceedings. She had heard many such speakers over the course of her career. Underneath the show, this one was all rhetoric, no heart.
She didn’t recognise the name of the next speaker on her list – Dr. Catherine Koretsku? Couldn’t see her backstage, and supposed to be on in seven minutes. Working on a hunch, Miranda went out into the corridor and looked for an open door.
Sitting, almost curled up, on a chair in an empty room, Koretsku appeared on the verge of tears. She looked up when Miranda walked in.
“I think I might be sick,” Catherine said. “Too many people.”
“Deep breaths,” said Miranda. “Open up. You’re too hunched, as if protecting yourself. Here, stretch your legs out, reach your arms up and behind your head. Pretend you’re at the beach. Stay like that. Now tell me, why are you here? Not ‘what for’, but ‘why’?”
A subtle change in Koretsku’s breathing, something sparked in her eyes, like a wolf getting ready to pounce. “I made a man with no legs grow them back and walk again.”
Miranda smiled. “Time to change the world, doctor.”