Empress Josephine

You woke up in the morgue, the mark of the cannula still worn into your upper lip, more clear-headed than you’d been in years. You sat up, just like that, without thinking about it, without having to plan every step carefully. Standing was an equal joy, no shifting your weight out past your knees, no rocking back and forth, no hoping you’d catch the handles of the walker and not fall on your forearms again. Standing! You laughed, the loudest sound you’d made since you moved up from Olympia, the same clear voice you’d heard in your head, then kept laughing, a minute, two, five, just to see how long you could go. You got bored before you had to stop.

There was someone else in the building with you, you could tell, someone warm, so you went looking, luxuriating just to be moving again.

“Oh, shit, you’re alive!” He was young, 22, maybe. College-aged; he looked like your grandson. He made his face look sympathetic. “Come sit down. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Do you remember your name? We’ll find your family. Let me look at your tag.”

You broke his neck easy as standing, then settled down to eat, still laughing. You’d never felt so alive.