This is a mother and son story. Read full story to find out more
A family arrives at this hospital, coming straight from the harbor across the street. They’re part of a tour group exploring the wilderness of Alaska and it’s normal for incidents to bring people here. The newness of their thick jackets and hiking boots suggests that they’ve never been to these parts before.
The young male is 19 years old and he’s in the exam room being treated by a nurse for a minor hand injury. The young woman is mid-20s and she’s waiting in the lobby with an astonished expression on her face. I’m standing with the concerned mother in my office.
“Will my son be okay?”
“It’s only a scratch. He’ll be fine. The nurse is working on him.”
“Actually it’s more complicated than that. Can we talk privately?”
“Sure, of course.”
I get up and close the office door. We both sit. Mothers often worry, but Ann looks like her adrenaline and panic are coming down from whatever happened. She sits upright and there’s more to this story than her son’s minor wound.
“This is confidential, right?” she says.
“Yes, sure. We can keep this between us. What’s wrong?”
“Something happened during our hike. It’s shameful and I want your advice.”
I pay closer attention. “Go on. We have time before your son’s treatment is finished.”
“Thank you, doctor. We’re part of the tour group and we saw something weird this morning. A family of bears were walking in a circle. One of the tour guides explained that it was a recent phenomenon, something about a new virus and that we should keep a safe distance.”
“I’m familiar with this. Apparently the virus affects parts of the brain. If I recall, it’s harmless and they’ll go back to normal.”
“The tour guide said something similar.”
“Does this have anything to do with your son?” I ask.
“Well, that’s what I’d like to discuss. As we got a closer look at the bears, Chris slipped on a rock and cut his hand on the ground. Just a scrap of the skin and there was blood which the tour guide treated right away.”
“I’m assuming that’s the injury the nurse is handling right now.”
“Yes,” she says. “Chris insisted he was fine. He laughed it off. The tour continued and everyone went back to taking pictures. Then the problems started. Chris complained that his other hand would clench, then unclench. Open and close. We spoke with a tour guide who speculated that it was shock from the cold weather along with pain from the injury. Keep in mind we were in an isolated location. We had a phone connection but it wasn’t serious enough to call a helicopter for medical treatment. So we decided to wait.
She continues, “Two hours ago, on the way back to the tour boat, the group stopped and took more pictures of the scenery. I did the same thing with my camera. I’m a hobbyist photographer. Chris and Lia were never interested in that. Eventually I noticed that I didn’t hear their voices and they weren’t around. Keep in mind, we were at the edge of the forest. Taking a few steps in any direction means you’d be out of sight.
She continues, “I went into the forest to look for them and I saw Chris and Lia touching each other. Their private areas.”
Ann clears her throat after admitting what she’d seen. It’s obvious what she’s implying. I’d never heard anything like this before and it would explain the family’s somber mood over a trivial injury. But still, I remain skeptical.
“Was it blatantly sexual?” I ask. “You mentioned a moment ago that Chris had an issue with his hand — clenching and unclenching it.”
“Chris’s hand — the uninjured one — was cupping Lia’s crotch through her jeans. Lia was fondling her brother’s groin. They were masturbating each other through their clothes. Yes, it was blatant. And it shocked me to the core. I only saw it for about two seconds, but that was all I needed. What struck me was how familiar they seemed in that position. The casualness. They stood so close to each other and their postures were at ease, like they’d done it before.
She continues, “They heard my footsteps and stopped. They were horrified at being caught, like I was horrified at catching them. I wanted to scream but the tour group was nearby. We talked at a frantic pace, I tried not to yell at them. It was Lia who explained that her brother had an issue with his groin. You know, male issues.”
“You’re implying that Chris had an erection,” I say.
“That’s what they claimed. That it throbbed in an unnatural way. That he had difficulty walking and needed immediate relief.”
“Did you believe it?”
“At that time, I wasn’t sure, but they were persistent. I can always tell when they’re hiding something. They’re not mischievous, but you know how siblings can be. So I kept on pushing them for the truth. Eventually my daughter confessed that they’d touched each other before, meaning, even back home they’d been doing this. There wasn’t enough time to get into specifics, but I was floored. It took everything in my power to remain calm.”
“This will stay between us, I promise. But I have to ask, why are you telling me this? How can I help?”
“I want to know if the virus is contagious.”
“Are you cut? Any injuries where blood can be transmitted? Any transfer of bodily fluids?”
“We had intimate contact,” she says.
“You and Chris?”
She nods. “On the boat ride over here.”
I do my best to keep a straight face as Ann’s story unfolds. As a medical professional, I’m trained to look for signs of domestic abuse or forms of molestation, but this seems to be consensual incest between a proper woman and a young man with agency.
“To clarify, Chris is your biological son.”
She doesn’t flinch. “That’s right.”
“Now I understand your need for secrecy.”
“Are you going to report this?”
“No. This is between us. My job is to help.”
“Thank you,” she says.
“Tell me about the intimate contact. It’ll help me provide better treatment.”
“It was on the boat ride coming here. I was still furious about what they’d been doing, but concerned about Chris’s injury and the way his body was reacting. The tour guide had checked his hand again and said he’d be fine.”
“Did the tour guide know about Chris’s erection?” I ask.
“We thought it was best to keep that part a secret since we were almost at the hospital. It would have been embarrassing to reveal that in front of the entire group, which in hindsight, would have been the better option.”
“And you had sexual contact on this boat?”