Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Please leave a message

Well here’s a bit for you: I was going to write a piece for you all today. I had been planning to tell you that, Coming out of an ether dream, I scanned the room to regain my place and found that I was alone. I would have informed you that I was in my paper dress, and that the blanket was still neatly tucked around my torso, going to show just how deep I had been under. There was to be talk of my hand running over the rectangular patch of shaven skin on the left-hand side of my chest, freshly bubbled with scar. A drawn-out rousing would have ensued, and I would have struggled to bring myself to a seated position.

There was going to be a reckoning and a remembering, an internal parsing of detail and wonder at the silence sandwiched between the business of the hospital hallway to the left of me and the general human traffic of the outside world to the right, the latter represented in sight only by the waving top of a tree against a patch of drab sky. There would have been one of those scenes where the patient, confused from the doping, would have staggered from his bed, stuck his feet into his slippers, spent minutes trying to find his clothes, looking for his wallet, his keys, his phone, so that he could get out of there. That would have been me.

This is where things were going to start to get funky, starting with me picking up the hospital phone, dialing 9 for an outside line and punching in my own cell phone number, not easily recalled given my state. Cue the humming, the humming, the humming, followed by a pause. I would have gripped the telephone receiver tighter and, confused, would have half been waiting for me to pick up on the other end of the line. Something was to have been wrong. Then the humming again, the humming, the humming, and a rattling in my chest. I feared the worst — I was relapsing, the surgery had not gone well, aliens were attacking earth from inside me, I was to have been confused. I would have gathered the will to set the hospital phone back on its hook, then would have sat on the bed to recover. The humming would have thankfully ceased.

This was going to be the point at which it was going to have dawned on me. I would have gone to pick up the hospital phone again. I would have held it to my ear, and I would have started to redial — slowly, tentatively – my number. I would have held my breath and waited, bracing myself as my chest once more began to vibrate and throb and (there would have been no use trying to deny it) to ring. It would have been confirmed: my phone had been closed into my body, with my heart. Perhaps, I would have thought further, with a shudder, it had even replaced my heart.

I would have been too dull and dazed to have ended the call. It would have kept ringing and ringing, and I would have considered the various consequences, all of them dire, I would have thought, even though I am not and would not have been a doctor. They warn you not even to keep your phone in your pocket, don’t they, I would have asked myself, I mean, not in your front pocket, anyway, not if you are a man and you have any desire to procreate at any point in the future. That’s what they say, I would have said.

And still the phone would have rung and rung in my chest, and I would have experienced visions of phone as heart, visions which would have made no real sense, visions of digits, fives, eights, zeroes, marching up and down my aortas and wandering into capillaries, bunching up against one another, coagulating, forming whole numbers. I would have sat horrified. Not for long, though, because after a certain number of rings, I would have been taken to my voice mail. I would have heard myself saying, I’m sorry, I’m not able to pick up my phone right now, but if you leave your name and number I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

What would I have done, reader, in actuality? Would I have hung up, knowing that to leave a message would serve no purpose? Would I have sobbed down into the thing at the madness involved? Or would I have just left a message, as a sort of official record, my first message to my new heart, to be replayed and treasured, lifetime in and out, for posterity? That’s why I haven’t written you this story, dear reader, and for that I am sorry.

[From the files of Knits a stinK.]

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