Dr. Ariel Rivera was working on the young black woman and she felt a pull in her heart. Suddenly she was overwhelmed by the scent of dread emanating from the body. It wasn't a physical smell, but a smell nevertheless.
“What was going through your mind while facing death,” she whispered. “Violence must have driven up your adrenaline. Was that enough to stave off death?”
The body was dark but shiny. It had a glossy film, almost a milky covering that gave the black skin that shine.
“Did you scream for help?” The doctor continued. “I'm sure your soul still feels the hurt. I know your ghost must be angry and confused. Wondering why you were left to die. No one came to your rescue, which made the pain feel more pronounced. I'm sure of it.”
Having a conversation with the dead instead of just completing the autopsy was happening more often for the doctor. She did find it relaxing and unnerving.
The young dead black woman from the city projects was beaten and then raped. Her mother worked several jobs to pay the bills and save for her only daughter's college. Living in the housing projects was the only way to save extra money. She worked for her daughter's future because she had none of her own. When the doctor's assistant told her the back-story of Abby Jenkins, and her mother, that really crushed the doctor's heart.
She paused and then realized she was holding the dead girl's hand. She released it slowly and tapped it three times for no apparent reason at all.
Helping someone when they are being attacked or even after the fact must be considered absolutely irrational. That's what the doctor kept thinking when she looked at the naked body. A young person who would never see another minute go by and her last hours were brutal.
Her mother taking on more shifts so that she could save for the funeral. She hasn't seen her daughter's body yet because she just had to work. To bury someone isn't free.
The doctor wasn't sure about a lot of things, but she was so sure about Abby's mother. A dedicated hard working woman who contracted AIDS from her drug addict boyfriend, but still didn't stop living to create a future for her daughter. A future stolen right from under her.
When she got the news about her daughter she crumbled to the floor, but only for a few moments. She got up and thought about a perfect burial. She had to work until everything was paid off, regardless, of the circumstances. She would cry much later.
She would work hard even if misery and dread dominated her thoughts every waking minute and nightmares when she slept.
There was no plausible explanation for why Abby's mother who has AIDS could be as strong as she was for her daughter. Living was a cruel joke, but the strength had to be given to her by God. It had to because there was no other reason behind the explanation. It just had to be God.
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© 2017 Frank Atanacio