Hospital Corners on All the Beds

Just like that she was dead. Around, and around, and around, and around… she was dead. Phone ringing at three in the morning. Did he know such-and-so? Yes, of course: his wife. That long pause, that deadly sound of the phone breathing… there was bad news. Could he come down to the morgue? He was made of cardboard.

Just like that.

Her face was gone. They told him that, he didn’t see it. They kept the sheet over her head. But she had moles, she had scars. That he knew well, that he had traced with his fingers on other mornings, other three ams. Behind her knee, high on her hip… one long scar on her back where she’d had surgery when she was twelve. He ran it under his fingers again, stiff and rigid in the morgue coldness. Yes, yes. Yes. It was her.

He was drinking burnt coffee out of a styrofoam cup. Fluorescent lights. Buzz… People walking past the room, looking at him. He had finished the coffee, a slow slug crawling down his throat… he was staring at the grounds in the cup. They meant nothing, spelled nothing…

Just like that she was dead.