Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Prompt: Write about something a character says while under anesthesia.

Source: None


The boy's curls spilled over the table. His eyes roved fitfully beneath their lids. His chest and abdominal cavity were open, the skin peeled back like a banana. His ribs were bleach-white, shining beneath the lights. He stirred and Phoebe swallowed, resisting the urge to crouch next to the table and hold his hand.

She touched his exposed organs gently. They were cut in places, oozing red tears. Her fingers worked automatically inside him. The child's heartbeat, marked by a monitor, thundered in her ears. It was fast, like a hummingbird. Phoebe's heartbeat mimicked it. He was in bad shape - his muscles, pink and raw, flinched beneath her touch. They were misshapen; his whole body was covered in abrasions, deep, ugly wounds.

His pink lips - dry and cracked - parted and he moaned. His mouth was so fragile. Phoebe tried to focus on her task. "Forceps," she said.

The child murmured something and his heartbeat accelerated. The bleeping of the monitor sped up, growing louder and more shrill. "Stay with me," Phoebe begged.

She heard the child's stats recited. They were bad. The voice was as shrill as the monitor.

The child's lips moved and Phoebe could have sworn he asked, "Mommy?" and then his heartbeat stopped. The blue veins in his eyelids stood out as though about to burst. Then he was gone. The child faded, his skin growing ashen and pale. His curls crumbled to dust around his head. And then he was gone and Phoebe's hands dripped his blood hollowly beneath the siren sound of the flat-lining monitor.


Phoebe sat bolt upright in bed, her heart pounding. She squeezed her eyes shut. The boy had died on her operating table almost three years previous. He had come in half-dead, cut to ribbons by the pane of glass he had fallen through. She could swear that he had asked for his mother; she could still hear his feverish voice. She had not slept a full night since.

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