XI
Taking Leave of Life
As Related by Claudia Godwin

In the beginning there was no pain.  That would come later; and with it fear, self-pity, regret, and all the rest.  But on that first fleeting awareness, no physical sensation whatever intruded.  My disembodied self floated aimlessly in an endless void until at length a sharp medicinal odor penetrated my semi-consciousness, recalling me to my broken body.  Incredibly, there was still no pain.  There ought to have been pain.  I was covered in warm, sticky blood, much of it my own.  A vague, passive curiosity was all I felt, that and the cold hard surface on which I lay.
     Sweet Jesus!  I was naked, laid out, I could only surmise, for autopsy.  Was I really dead?  No, I was not, for the delinquent pain was now making itself known.  Through closed eyelids I could tell there was a bright light overhead.  Far away I heard voices, then soft footsteps.  To whom did they belong?  Forensic pathologist perhaps?  Or medical students? Whoever they were, they were coming closer; and my imagination, inspired, no doubt, by the ominous clinking of saws, scissors, and knives, dressed them in butchers’ aprons.
     No! I screamed silently, helplessly.  Please, oh, please, don’t cut me.  Can’t you see I’m alive?
     Reclaimed by the nothingness, I drifted for upward of a thousand years in darkness such as the living never experience, darkness that is the total absence of light.  This time I was drawn back into the world of pain by someone’s shaving my legs.
     Fuck off, you imbecile!  Do you think I care about my appearance at a time like this?
     But she persisted, then capped this first madness by painting my legs.  What kind of ritual is this?
     Oh shit!  I’m going to be a human sacrifice.
     Another thousand years or so passed in blessed oblivion before I found myself being wheeled into yet another operating room.  How many separate surgeries had I undergone?  More, I thought, than I could actually recount.  Why did they bother, these gods of medicine?  Could they not see the obvious?  I, from the inside, from the very core of my being, could feel how futile all their efforts were.
     When next I opened my eyes, there was my baby, my little girl, almost grown, but not quite.  She still needed me.  What was going to come of her without me to look after her?  Maybe she would find somebody who would do a better job than I had done, but no one could ever love her more than I had.  It was sad, so terribly sad, but I was too tired to think any more about it today.  I closed my eyes and slept.

Copyright © 2013 Trudy Silverheels
Excerpt from yet-to-be-published novel Nuevo Biloxi