Off the Shelf, Writers-in-Training
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Leave of Absence: A Gift in Disguise

Tears rushed down my face
like the initial gush of water
spurting from a faucet,
swirling down, down,
down into the drain.

Except — I couldn’t wash away
the shame I felt for
delaying my dreams.
An unwanted detour
that sent me crashing off-road.
Worn-out wheels of my mind
Lost traction on the
Slippery upward slope of
med school.

Tick, tock.
The rising peak looks so far away
As I peer up a few steps from the bottom.

Christmas. A new year.
Valentine’s Day.
Weary tears turn into
Car rides to church with grandma,
Afternoon runs around the lake,
color-coded review books.

Tick, tock.
Missing family dinners and
Friends’ birthdays no longer.
Some would spend their dying wish
For this —
A little extra time
To enjoy the little things.
An unwarranted loss morphed into
An infinite gift.

The screeching halt
Of my fast-paced life
Shifted naturally into a
Gentle ride.
A step back
helped me take a step forward.
Breathlessness once burdened me
As I felt overwhelmed with responsibilities.
Now, I take a deep breath
And maintain my own pace to the top.

Alayna Sterchele Alayna Sterchele (3 Posts)


University of Central Florida College of Medicine

Alayna is a first year medical student at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando, Florida. She also has a Molecular Biology and Microbiology degree from the University of Central Florida and is a proud Orlando native who knows that Orlando is much more than just theme parks and tourists. Her medical interests include community health, global health, and bioethics. When not studying, she enjoys reading fiction novels, rollerblading at local parks, and planning her next travel adventure.