The Miraculous, Unknowable Me
The doctor says that I am still living. I watch a gray car pass through the parking lot. I watch the long clattering blinds and observe the connected dots of the string that operates the blinds. I stare at the glass container of tongue depressors. The doctor in the long white coat and the stethoscope looks at me, searchingly.
"Okay," I say.
The word puffs out, meaningless.
"This is wonderful news," the doctor says, folding his hands into his lap.
"Okay," I say.
The doctor mentions that he could not discern a pulse, heartbeat, reflexes, but reports that my brain shows waves of activity. This seems accurate and unremarkable, despite his look of consternation. The things that happen to us, our bodies, we should take them with resignation. He thinks perhaps I am magic. I am able to walk, speak, perform tasks on command, such as sitting or standing. It is just that my heart and its blood have grown stagnant. I wish that I could tell him that this is not the miraculous part of me.
"We look forward to conducting further research with you. You are quite the anomaly," the doctor replies.
He is smiling widely and his neat hair bristles at the temples.
"Okay," I say.
I walk through the halls of the hospital and out of the building. Doors open automatically. Some people are rushing and some are crying and nearly everyone is concerned about hand sanitizer. These are various things to navigate the body around until the body is returned home and navigates around the more predictable, non-sentient apartment things. The body. That's more useful and apt than calling it mine.
Occasionally, the body loses awareness and then regains it. This might be sleeping. Currently, the body is aware.
At home I stab myself with a small blade. It is an experiment. My flesh does not flinch or experience pain, though the wound in my thigh bleeds profusely. It is not the pounding blood, not the bursts, but a pouring out. The wound is just emptying the fluid. Wrapping the thigh might be entirely irrelevant and curiosity makes me wish to let it drain. But they said that I was living and the doctors wanted me to express a positive feeling about this discovery, so I wrap the thigh and try to find a feeling within my body, either physical or emotional. No signal comes back. The body also does not report whether I should eat or fuck or shit. The body no longer has anything to say.
I station the body in its bed and lay it down. There are lots of pillows, but all of them appear to be entirely the same. I make an arbitrary pillow selection. The covers appear denser than necessary, but I place them over the body anyway. The duvet is covered in a large floral print. The way this is supposed to be flowers is like the way I am supposed to be a person. I close the body's eyes.
A memory emerges of myself smiling and the woman with the lovely eyes smiling back. There is a self here, not just the body. Some images are static and others move and dance like I'm catching sight of them fluttering wild in a flame, unwieldy and uncontainable. I see us dancing, my body animated and playful. Hers is radiating happiness. It takes place in the front room. We are perfect. Her feet are the two step beat in my chest, now gone. It is a real thing that happened once and it is beautiful. It is natural and free as any animal. The memory tells me this. The memory is insistent. I open the body's eyes and it vanishes.
I rewrap the leg because the bleeding is still occurring. I have knowledge that rewrapping it is appropriate. In the bathroom, I find more gauze. The hands remove the current bandaging and replace it while the eyes watch. A task is being performed. This is one of the signs that the body is living.
When I replace the body into its bed and close the eyes again, the memory creates more visuals. The woman is sleeping with her head in my lap, the woman is laughing, the woman is holding me with her whole body. These pictures cause the eyes to begin to tear and the throat constricts. The body is having a reaction to these visuals. The body is sobbing. The body will not stop, so I just observe it. After a while, the body quiets and I lose track. This is probably what it means to be sleeping.
In the morning, I deliver the body back into the small bathroom and place it on the toilet. I stare at the eyes in the mirror and they look red, glassy, slightly loose. The body releases urine into the toilet and the hand presses the lever to remove the old toilet water and replace it with new. The hands move to open curtains in the front room windows. Weak April light enters the room. I sit the body on the couch. The body is in shorts so that I can monitor the bleeding. The thigh appears to be adequately wrapped up.
I remember the information that the body is alive. I recall that stopping the bleeding is perceived as a positive. There is a photo of the lovely woman with the kind hands sitting on the table next to the sofa. I direct the body's eyes to the image. Once again the body begins to cry. Once again the body tightens and audibly sounds its distress. I wait for it to pass. It takes a long time. This time the body does not sleep. I can think of nothing further to do for it, no way to attend to its needs.
The doctor wanted me to know that the body is still living. The doctor wanted to show charts and use instruments. The doctor wanted to explain math and science and demonstrate tools they use in laboratories. The doctor said "good thing," "good thing," "this is a good thing." The doctor smiled with his eyes and his lips. The body is still living! A triumph!
I cannot remember why this matters. I push a thumbnail deeply into the center of the gauze on my thigh. It reddens. If this body is living, who is it now?
has most recently been published in Monkey Bicycle, Black Heart Magazine
and Skin to Skin
. She holds an M.A. in English from Central Michigan University and is currently completing a second M.A. in Film Theory. Her work is forthcoming from Whiskey Island
and Embodied Effigies