Culture

What A Human Body Should Look Like

I take the deepest breath of my life.

“Bill, let’s go. Don’t look at her face. I want her blood pressure, now.”

I take the deepest breath of my life everyday at 4:45 p.m. before the sliding doors open.

“Bill, get up on the table, push her face together and hold it. I need to get her face back roughly to where it should be if I’m going to.”

I take the deepest breath of my life everyday at 4:45 p.m. before the sliding doors open and the disinfected hospital stench engulfs me. I hold it for as long as I can before slowly exhaling and becoming Bill. My friends call me Billy. At 4:45, when that breath escapes, I’m Bill, an ER transporter.

People say you get desensitized after a while. Not everybody does. Bill did, but Billy never will.

After a couple weeks, blood is blood. Sometimes I’d see a face on the stretcher and I’d forget where the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth were supposed to be. Rarely do I see an arm stick out at an angle that I’ve never seen before.

People say you get desensitized after a while. Part of you does. Bill did, but Billy never will.

I’m tearing a women’s shirt off and applying pressure. I look up to the face and it’s my mother on the stretcher. Her face looks perfectly normal, but she’s blonde, not a redhead. Someone taps me on the shoulder. It’s Billy.

“Bill, save her,” he yells. “Save her.”

I wake up panting. My sheets stick to my sweaty arms and legs. I strip while shuffling toward the bathroom. Unable to sleep, I stand naked in front of my bathroom mirror; it reminds me what a human body should look like.

Carter Stanton may be contacted at r.stanton@umiami.edu.

April 21, 2008

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