Twenty years and six hours later. Twenty thirty-three. After the dream.
The room has never been so cold, so silent, and so lonely. Emptiness. I want to convince myself that the entities from my dream are deceiving me while awake. I want to believe that my father had, indeed, kept his promise at least in the last second of his “life.” But nothing... definitely nothing changes the fact that Lucy is here with me, as promised. But at the autopsy table.
“It was too late...”
I touch Lucy’s face.
With the plastic gloves, I caress her cheekbones. But such a sanitary distance makes me sick. I have a knot in my stomach. Something is definitely not right. Then, for the first time in my whole career, I touch a real corpse with my own hands. Life touches its end. And for the first time I feel the coldness of real death. A moral coldness.
– This was a complicated case, huh? – says my assistant at the morgue.
I’m still touching Lucy.
– It’s sad it had to end up like this – he goes on.
I still sail in seas of memory long forgotten or stored for so long that dust already covered them almost entirely. So many moments appear. Whether they were tender, happy, loving, painful, joy, it touches me just by recalling them. After all, it’s what an old man does: he rejoices with nostalgia, embraces the past. However, nothing changes the fact that the boat of such memories is sadness itself, even though they were a tip for such a vivid time that looked like a pagan remote incarnation.
I had failed her.
– Don’t you think?
Only then do I notice the young man talking by my side.
“Like this?” What could he be talking about? Still feeling the torpor of that vision, I slowly touch the sheet that covers the body of my ex-wife. I find Lucy’s white skin searching for answers.
Up to the chest.
Then the womb.
A “Y” was on her chest, and I wasn’t the one who “opened” it. That was the fourth thing that was more intimate than sex: touching the heart. It should have been me to free her from life, from this huge burden of sorrow to which I had destined her. I should have opened her hull, her chrysalis, her last abode before Paradise. But even then I had failed her. Even in death.
But a horizontal line appears at the foot of the “Y”. Something like a “Y”.
– C-sec-tion? – I can’t believe it.
– Yes, she’s over fifty... Incredible. – My assistant answers, while doing other things, as if it were nothing.
I touch the horizontal scar from left to right. Skin against skin. “It’s recent... But how?! At this age?!” Then my thoughts drift away from Lucy...
– So, this is where you came out from...
But soon after, my soul freezes. I see in the distance, at a distance that seems infinite, the ring on her finger. A blinding luminescence, like the horizon of a dawn. I take it off still fearing its touch, placing it by the side of her head. Skin against metal. Hesitation.
– And the husband? Where’s he?
– She doesn’t have anyone... that’s what I’m talking about. – Such information pierces my flesh. How would she be wearing a ring but had no one? It doesn’t make sense. – The whole hospital is talking about it, too. Even a few news folks showed up, people with flowers, people praying...
– What-a-bout-the-son? I interrupt abruptly.
– Orphan. – He looks at me seriously and briefly. – No record of any other relative... not even the husband showed up.
– What a fucking shame! – I see the face of Lucy, who seems to have aged only ten years, not twenty. And it seems she smiles. It seems like she’s just in a long sleep having a good dream. I open her eyes looking for life, but no, she’s apathetic as a dead. However, the feeling of being heard was incessant. Was she really smiling?
– She has a son in her fifties and dies right from a heart condition? – My assistant finds the irony.
“I’m sorry, Lucy.”
– You’re sure to have some good headlines, – the assistant finally adds.
I cover her again with the sheet, her second veil after her eyelids.
– The doctors warned her that it would be dangerous, that she’d better have an abortion. But she insisted on having the baby... it didn’t make sense but she wanted it anyway, even risking her own life as well. It was like her life’s mission. One last mission before she died. – On hearing this, I feel a pain so sharp that slight tremors strike my hands, and my eyes reveal their liquid nature. I put the gloves back on, as if to cover my eyes. – And look how lucky, on your last day of work, you get such a rare case! – The thought of Lucy fighting for her son until her heart can’t take it any longer strikes my mind. She screaming. She sweating. She bleeding for her son. Lucy held it all by herself at this advanced age. She gave birth to soon find the darkness.
My assistant investigates the ring next to the head of Lucy’s body.
In the ring, however, I already know what is written, needless to look, for I’m completely sure. That, because it can only be a ring. The ring. There’s no chance Lucy had a second ring. I didn’t look, I didn’t check, I didn’t confirm, since it would betray my faith, it would be like shining a light on a field one must jump in the dark. The inscriptions can only be: “If needed, up to Hell... Dante.”
Like the turning of the next page of a book, only then I see in my mind, as if I could see Lucy’s obituary in my hands – I know it’s written there – on the last page, the cause of death: cardiac arrest.
Remark: Phenomenon of Mary, rare self-copulation.
“Thank you, Lucy.
Thank you very much...”
– I’ll take this one, Dante, you can go enjoy life – he laughs when he sees me there, examining his work. – But how lucky to have this as your last case, huh?
“Luck? It’s a fucking miracle.”
– I’ll try to contact her husband somehow – I say, pushing what else’s there.
Slowly, I walk to the door.
I put my finger on the hospital map, trying to locate the neonatal unit. My whole life had been around the underworld and death, and being in the place where life is brought was hitherto unknown to me.
On my way to my destination, leaning on and bumping into everything, I leave the salty trace of the witnesses of miracles. Only then did I realize the blindness that had always possessed me. As if the saliva of Christ had found the mud, and I had washed my eyes with His word and His earth in the Pool of the Envoy, Siloam, there, I had acquired my vision.
In the neonatal unit, I freeze. My heart races and threatens with all its might to throw me for the underworld one last time. But I resist, I hold my ground among the living and struggle not to escape the light of these still unknown beings. I smile insanely at being a witness of such a miracle, the fruit of the effort of such a wait... Faith. So, taking off both gloves—my skin for the dead—I stare at the emptiness of my hand, and with my bare hand on the glass that separates the newborn’s room from long-ago-born’s hall, I feel my death-cold palm touch that partition. But, even if it’s just heat exchange, I can already feel its fragile heat warming me.
– It’s a pleasure to finally meet you...
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Winter ClarkWrite a Review