The hospital bed is warm from sweaty anticipation. I am in a light blue gown that is open at the chest, and the admittance band is tight around my wrist like a neon shackle. Men wearing masks and white lab coats that smell of nail polish remover and combustion are doing circles around me, mumbling. It takes me a while to process the words, which I’m not sure are even words. Just gargle. GRGLE
Have I been given something? Halothane? Atracurium? Ketamine? Tranquilizers? Those would do the trick.
“What should we put inside?” I hear one say.
“It needs something,” another responds.
I look down at my chest again and see that my heart is exposed. But to my surprise it’s completely empty, just a fleshy container, the last matryoshka doll, a throbbing shell.
“Love!” I scream. “Put love inside! That’s what it needs!” but no sound comes out. My mouth has been stitched shut. I struggle to pry my lips apart but my limbs have become weak and flaccid. I feel like Gumby on the cold steel table.
The debate continues:
“What about fuzz? We have a lot of that.”
“Or putty? That should keep.”
“How about helium? Or grass from the mower? Ice cubes? Paper clips? Flower petals?”
“Hand soap? Those little pebbles that line the fishbowl? Dirt from the backyard?”
“I’ve got it! What about cream filling?”
Everyone starts to laugh, bending at the knees and clutching their guts,
grinning wide with sharp, yellowed teeth like citrine quartz.
Their eyes are slits, two symmetrical incisions made with an X-Acto knife below their eyebrows.
Meanwhile I’m paralyzed, overcome by tinnitus, by the electric buzzing of fat, veiny locusts and the subtle beep of a distant alarm.
Suddenly the lights all blow out.
The room quiets and blurs into nothingness.
And I wake up in bed,
as empty as ever.
Elena Robidoux (1993) is a writer of prose poetry and creative nonfiction from Boston. Her work has been featured in Vantage Point and Pulp Metal Magazine. erobidoux.tumblr.com.