I pick the worst times to fall in love.
Take, for example, right now. I’m in love, but I’m also dead.
Just the worst timing ever.
The object of my love? This luscious pathology assistant with the green-hazel eyes who is about to cut me open and see what I’m like on the inside in the very literal sense.
I should be more upset about this. Being dead is rarely ideal and my death was even less ideal as I was killed in a freak accident. My outsides look pretty okay, or so everyone has said, but my insides have to be liquid yuck. I can’t think of them being any other way. I’m a little embarrassed to have her see them that way. That’s what I’m most upset about. She won’t be seeing me at my best. Never mind that I’m dead and after this the ride is over. It’s just that if I had to meet her dead, then I wish my organs wouldn’t have been goo.
Yes, I should be more upset about this whole situation, but she has such a deft touch. She stripped me of my clothes better than any woman I ever encountered while living and that alone is something to inspire a bit of lust. But this is not lust. If it were only lust, I’d only be bemoaning that I couldn’t be able to act on it and that’s something I’m very used to. It was a common occurrence in my life. No, this is love. It’s her eyes and the way her hands, even in the surgical gloves, find a way to be soft as well as strong. She does her job, but she does it with such care. I find that sexy. There’s just something about her, something I can’t quite pin down, and that’s love to me. That mystery, that uncertainty, that unconscious draw. That’s love. My heart would be thumping if it could still beat.
I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather have rip me apart.
And that’s what she’s about to do. The scalpel is in her gloved hand, ready to go.
The knife cuts in, but there’s no pain. Of course not. The nerves don’t work anymore. There’s no feeling at all. Except for the one in my metaphorical heart. And that feeling grows as she makes her cuts: from one shoulder to the sternum and then the other shoulder to the sternum and then the sternum to the pelvic bone. Honestly, it’s like she drawing a map on my skin, directing my feeling and urges and desires.
She puts aside her scalpel and lays me open, pulling back my skin to reveal my insides. I expect her to react with horror, with revulsion, to pull away and put the back of one gloved hand up to her pretty mouth to stifle the scream that bubbles up from her smooth throat at the sight of my severely damaged insides, a 1940’s horror movie reaction. But she doesn’t. Instead, she just gasps softly and then shakes her head.
She turns away, but not in horror. She moves with a purpose and I hear the clank of metal on metal, the sound of her retrieving her next tool. Turning back to me with what looks like bolt cutters, she begins to snip away at my ribs. She looks comical from this angle, the bolt cutters protruding straight up from my chest and her working them furiously, almost like she’s too short to get really good leverage. She looks so adorable. I’d smile if I could. Somehow she manages to cut loose my ribs even without the aid of a stepping stool.
Tossing the bolt cutters to the side, the sound of them hitting the tile floor echoing around the room, she reaches in and removes the plate of ribs that she’s cut away.
Now she can get a really good look at my messed-up insides because I know they have to be god-awful looking after everything I’ve been through. I want to wince and pull away, but well, I can’t do that, not in the condition I’m in. I can’t even do it spiritually. For whatever reason, I’m stuck here, experiencing this moment.
I dread to see the look in her hazel eyes when she gets a good look at my insides, but I can’t help myself. My eyes are closed, but I can still see. And I can’t look away from her.
She looks closely at what’s been revealed, inspecting without touching. But there’s no judgment in her eyes, no revulsion on her face. If anything, there’s a look, a very faint look, of…not pity. It’s something sweeter than that, something kinder. Heartbreak, maybe? Like she knows I didn’t deserve this, that what happened to me wasn’t my fault.
Another person joins her inspection, a man’s face looming over me, and I want more than anything to tell him to get away, stop intruding on this private moment.
He’s an older man with carefully etched lines on his face and he looks down on me, looks at my messed-up insides, with the concentration of someone analyzing a great mystery. No judgment. Just cold, hard curiosity.
Finally, he shakes his head and looks up at the love of my death.
“Do your best,” he says to her. “The cause of death is clear, but let’s be thorough. Let me know when you pop the skull.”
The man disappears from my view leaving those beautiful hazel eyes to gaze down on me in solitude once again. Just the two of us.
For the next few minutes, she’s all business, taking syringes of fluids from me, poking around my semi-liquid organs. She weighs what she can, hefting what solid bits she can identify out of my abdominal cavity, carrying it away and returning with it a minute or two later. She makes slides of some of the bits, setting them aside. And then she bags up the mess, as much of it as she can, in a yellow bag, and sets it in my stomach cavity.
My heart, the toughest muscle and the last bit she inspects, is somehow still intact. She cuts it away and pulls it free from my chest. It’s a little blackened in places, but it looks pretty okay, at least to my eyes.
She takes my heart away and I can’t think of a better metaphor for what I’m feeling about her right now. When she brings it back, she places it into the bag with the rest of my organs with such tenderness. It’s really rather shocking considering the state of me. You’d think that since I’m already so jacked up, she’d just shove my heart in the bag and be done with it, but she doesn’t. Despite the state of me, she still handles my heart gently, with respect.
Moving around to my head now, I guess it’s time for her to pop my skull, as they say, and look at my brain. From this angle, pretty much the only thing I can see are her hazel eyes and they are so focused. I hear her pick up something, metal on metal once again, and my head moves a little with whatever she’s doing to me now. And then my vision is blocked by a flap of something. Oh. It’s my scalp. Well, I would imagine popping the skull means that you have to actually see it. Why I can see through my eyelids, but not this, I can only guess. The sound of a saw begins, a humming buzz that’s more soothing than it probably should be. After exposing my heart and damaged insides to her, you’d think that having her see my brain would be no big deal. You would think. But I know my brain has to be as much of a mess as my insides. Has to be. There’s no way after what happened it could be anything other than fried mush.
Oh, my poor brain. If only I’d met her when it was still pristine.
The saw stops. I’m jerked a little bit once again and once again there’s no pain, but I’d still wince if I could. I can only imagine the look in her pretty eyes when she sees my mess of gray matter.
“His brain is still pretty intact,” I hear her say, her voice the sweetest sound in the room, and I feel some relief at that. “It’s damaged, but it’s not goo.”
“That’s interesting,” the man says and I’m instantly angry at his voice. This guy just continues to intrude on my moments with her. I hear him move closer so he can get a better look at my brain and I don’t want that. If I could jump off of this table and slug him I would. “Mmm. Yes. Some damage, but not bad. Make slides, please, after you weigh it.”
“Right, Doc,” she says.
My head moves around a bit as she cuts my brain loose, but I still can’t see a thing and it’s bugging me because if I’m going to be torn apart and examined, I want to be able to see her while she does it, see what she thinks as she analyzes the bits of me.
It seems like hours until my sight is restored. My head jiggles a little bit as she slides my brain back into place and snaps the top of my skull back on. She pulls my scalp back down and smooths it out, aligning the cut perfectly so she can sew it back up. I can feel her, but I can’t. There’s no pain, but I swear I can feel her touch, her delicacy as she stitches my head closed.
She moves around to where I can see her better and those pretty hazel eyes of hers are serious with concentration. She replaces my ribcage and pulls my chest closed. Again, her stitching is delicate, but strong. There are little tugs, but she’s not jerking me all over the table, not being rough with me.
It’s like she understands that I’ve already been through enough and even though I’m dead, she won’t put me through any more harshness.
I appreciate that.
That’s probably why I love her. At the root of it, anyway. That was probably what I saw in her eyes when she wheeled me out of the cooler and flopped me onto this table.
I saw that she understood me.
Such rotten timing.
To wait until I’m dead to fall in love.