Stories should make some sense at least (if poems don’t have to).
Here is one I wrote this summer, and I think that for some creepy reason I like it.
I couldn’t come up with any other “title” for it: it’s just that when I think of it, I think: “my creepy lab story”.
And… umm… whether it makes sense or not… I’ll repeat myself:
Nothing has to make sense.
Everything makes sense on some level.
Or does it?
‘You see? The consistency changes.’
In the glass container, which only accidentally resembled an incubator, dense dark-red mass was muddling. The lightest and darkest elements had already shrunk, melted and disappeared from view.
Victoria was standing beside her client and watching her out of the corner of the eye.
She wondered briefly what the woman’s reaction would be if she saw what could be seen behind the glass a few minutes before she came to the lab: a man’s eye sliding up, close to the glass pane, exploding at the top like a firework, only much more slowly, kind of waterily, and then dissolving into the background.
But Victoria was glad the woman didn’t see it. She could then have become the first person disenchanted with the method.
The way it went, the woman was fascinated. Her long black eyelashes didn’t even once flutter as she stood there motionless, and only the muscles of the angles of her mouth kept contracting slightly until at some point they began to relax into a smile.
Everybody liked watching that. It was so much more comforting than watching a casket disappear under the ground with the body hidden in it, destined to disintegrate. Or having strangers burn the body and then deliver it to you like mail order ceramics filled with ashes.
There was relief to be drawn from watching the body of a loved person mix inside the container like strawberries for a dessert, and the relief was starting to show on the woman’s face. Victoria couldn’t help admiring the beauty of it.
‘This is amazing.’
There fell a silence, one of the kind that Victoria had long ago stopped considering awkward. That’s the way it goes: people die, and their loved ones come to see them ground down. And they can’t restrain their wonder.
‘Yes, it is,’ she said softly. ‘Is that your husband, brother…?’
‘Husband. And best friend.’
The board beneath the container now showed the consistency was perfect. And so it was, Victoria couldn’t help thinking, like that of mousse. The percentages on the board were about to start changing as the mass underwent dehydration. Please say goodbye to him now. This is the last moment, she kept herself from saying. As usual, she said it in her mind instead.
A lone tear tracked down the woman’s cheek. Victoria kept herself from drying it with an open hand, whereby she could for a little while feel the long unfelt warmth of a human body.
She belonged here, to this world of cold remains minced in glass containers, the chilled world of initial utilization, a periphery of the world of the living. And on this periphery she was meant to remain.
I know what you’re feeling, she could say, but it wasn’t needed. The woman had digested the death of her husband and was standing beside her in a kind of trance; the words wouldn’t have reached her anyway.
‘That is all. The body,’ Victoria kept herself from adding, or rather what has become of it, ‘is now going to be transferred and further utilised.’
In her mind, she recalled the difficult declension of the Latin utilis. She stole one more look at the woman’s face, but there was no sign at all of her being bothered by the word “utilized”.
She kept herself from reaching the woman’s hand in a gesture of professional goodbye. But the woman half-turned to her and there was a moment when she appeared to be wanting to throw her arms around Victoria and put her head in between the lab assistant’s neck and shoulder.
‘Thank you. It was very important for me to… to say goodbye to him. I’m glad I did that,’ she said in a quiet voice, as if toned down by the experience, and left the lab.
Victoria was glad they didn’t touch.
Have a good day,