“Is it ok to have this resident assist?” the doctor asks, strapping a light to his forehead as smiling, not waiting, she begins to sort you into your constituent parts, all the suspect ones put in a pile.
You say yes to make it seem ok retroactively. Even in the waiting room you’d slunk behind a magazine to hide your anxious tears, so the receptionist would not be uncomfortable.
The resident rummages through your chest cavity as the doctor hoists your medical record. “Recently married, eh?” he asks, a sound like winking in his voice as he taps on the spot where they’ve penciled your new name. “And I see you’re still under your original twenty-five-year warranty. Not pregnant are we? Not ever?”
You say no in a breathless voice. The resident is harvesting your pulmonary alveoli, one by one.
Next she hands the doctor a piece of body so like a gelatinous fish that it might be mistaken for an infant tub toy. “Does this hurt?” he asks as he tests it with his teeth.
The resident has your voicebox now, holding it up to the window like a kaleidoscope as she hums a happy tune, so you nod gently to indicate it hurts—but just a little bit.
“A good sign!” he booms.
She grabs a femur to use as a mallet and bangs out Twinkle Twinkle on the stack of vertebrae she’s resting on her knee.
“The important thing,” he says, tossing the fishy bit high in the air, “is to catch these things early,” he continues, bowing at you with a juggler’s panache as it drops into the hand behind his back.
You try to smile but find the resident now has your lips, which she’s pulling like taffy.
“You’ll be a bit woozy, after,” says the doctor, as he disappears the fish into his other palm. “Have anyone to drive you home?”
Jacquelyn Bengfort was born in North Dakota, educated at the U.S. Naval Academy and Oxford University, and now resides in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared in Gargoyle, Storm Cellar, District Lines, and the anthologies Magical and Dear Robot, among other places. Find her online at www.JaciB.com.