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“Mr. Sutherland.” A disconnected voice from beyond this here and now. Is it now? He doesn't know. “Can you sit up Mr. Sutherland?” Rising up, a cadaver pulled from rest to stay crouched in the light. “Good, if you could open your eyes please.” Open and be blinded. A harsh light moving from left to the right and the right to the down and the down to the up. “Good, Good. How are you feeling today?”
“What?” That can’t be right. Reedy and off pitch, this is not his voice.
“How do you feel?”
“I don’t know. Nothing. I don’t know.”
“That’s alright; your neural pathways are still connecting.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your brain needs some time to connect with your new body. The transplant was just last night; it takes a few days for sensation to return.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Last night you fell from your office. The paramedics arrived in time to prep for the operation. Your body was suffering from intense trauma; even if you had survived the fall, the alcohol in your system would have killed you.” Oh, that was unexpected. What is complete and utter revelation to your new life? Ding, Ding, you got it, Mister Sutherland.
“I don’t remember this.”
“Well, you were thoroughly intoxicated. I need to test your motor functions.” Gloved hands coming from somewhere in that dusk. “Touch my fingers with the corresponding ones on your hands.”
“Okay.” The hands that came from his sides are pasty white and freckled.
“Good, now move your arms like a bird.”
“It shows if your shoulders are functioning properly.”
“Okay.” Flapping like a bird. To the observer, he looked to be an oversized newborn.
“Good, stand up please.” Standing, he could be upside down for all he could tell. Nerves and little electric pulses in his body, not doing their jobs.
“Walk in a straight line.” Swaying as if it were last night and he was walking home. A gloved hand holds his wrist. “Almost there.” God, who have they found for me? The feet were scarred and missing toenails.
“Well done, Mr. Sutherland. I believe you are going to make a full recovery.” He sat back down and put his head in his hands.
“Where did you find the body?”
“Donald Jackson; he was a homeless man. We put him on ice when the police found his body. Saving him for someone just like you.”
“Michelle, my wife.”
“Probably at home; you can leave now if you want. This procedure usually doesn’t warrant contact with next of kin and such.” There’s a clipboard in his hands.
“Just sign here, your insurance will cover the rest.”
“Well, Mr. Sutherland, enjoy your new body.”
A year from that awakening, a year from that resurrection, Michelle sits across an oaken table. Her lawyer, a rat by any other name, shuffles paper. “Where’s your lawyer?” she asks.
“I don’t have one.”
“I should have guessed you wouldn’t care enough to find one.”
“You never cared about anything.”
“I cared about you.”
“No you didn’t, this was a loveless marriage from day one.”
“No, it was loveless since the accident.”
“That’s your excuse for everything, that’s your excuse for this.”
“It’s why we’re here. You can’t love me and you won’t say it.”
“I could love you if I wanted.”
“Not anymore.” She looks out the window behind her, signaling that she is no longer speaking.
“If you two are done, please sign these papers Mr. Sutherland,” her lawyer passes a few sheets across the table. The signature is an afterthought in this second life. She is a relic from the past and means nothing. He loved her. He died. He loves her again and therein reside the fault. Unrequited love drove their marriage into the ground and she will not say it. I won’t love you now that you’re someone else. It need not be said but he must hear it.
“Just tell me.”
“Tell you what?”
“Why you’re doing this.”
“Because you're different from the man I married.”
“How so?” Michelle shifts in her seat.
“You just aren’t the same.”
“Just say it.”
“You know what. Say it.” She looks at him wistful and forlorn.
“I wish this hadn’t happened. I wish I still wanted to touch you. But I don’t want to be next to this.” She points at him. He imagined the words a thousand times over. So many different ways to be said. Her lawyer says, "We can leave now Michelle." She stands and leaves. The lawyer shakes his hand and follows quickly after.
" Mr. Sutherland?"
"You're awake, good. The transplant was a success."
"The paramedics brought you in last night. You were intoxicated and had trauma from being hit by a car." How many lives has it been? "Your chart says this is your second transplant."
"That's a low count for someone your age." The nurse turns to lean over the hospital cot. "I've had four and I'm twenty six. I liked my last body; I was a beautiful Latina. She had a killer butt."
"Where'd they find this one?"
"I don't know. A dumpster I think. I'm asking for a better one but it’s a long list for request transplants."