The Organ Donor
They thought death was worth it, but I
Have a self to recover, a queen.
Is she dead? Is she sleeping?
Where has she been,
With her lion red body, her wings of glass?
Somehow, as I freed myself from the murk of my broken ears, there was music, and I knew with a certainty both painful and absolute that I was dead. I knew not how I came to be there, dead and alone in the dusky light of the ghostly concert hall, complete with red velvet cushions and matching curtains on the stage. The place was cavernous, and yawned before me like an old and eerie mouth, the seats multiplying like grotesque, scarlet tombstones, and the stage shifting and growing, becoming a black and bloated whale.
There was a woman on the stage, how had I not noticed her before? She seemed old fashioned, wearing a midnight blue flapper dress, her dark hair short and pin-curled. There was a gold coloured microphone before her, and I realized that she was the source of the music I was hearing. She sang, the melody haunting and destroying me.
My mama, she always said to me, I am the brightest star, and how I’m sure to go so far…
My mind shot upward and out of the concert hall for a moment. I had a mother, where was she now? The lyrics drifting out and over the auditorium rolled like fog, and no matter how I pleaded, they kept escaping from the pretty singer’s painted red lips, scratching at me, slipping up my skirt and inside my ribcage. They were exposing me, and I fell to my knees, tears like hot stars spilling forth from my lost and inexperienced eyes. The woman kept singing, her voice both deep and sweet.
Now that I’m alone, I feel the lonely brokenness of all the wicked avenues I’ve ever sold my love on.
A sudden, booming voice brought me back abruptly from my own grief, and I searched for its source – surely an auditorium as old as this one looked did not have speakers? The voice shattered and sent skittering the pretty dark mist that had been gathering around my knees and up on the stage,
“She’s young and healthy.”
And then another voice, ominous and groaning like the first,
“She just graduated from high school.”
And then the third and final voice, condemning and hollowing me out like a stone,
“She’s an organ donor.”
Oh, the card! I had signed it carelessly, recklessly, not thinking of my own life and limbs, snatched away in cold sympathy. Snatched away before I was ready.
That deadly voice had a scalpel. It would use that scalpel to cut me, to steal away my precious stores and violate me. It would abduct my dreams and freeze them and deposit them inside someone else's weaker heart. It would tear out my memories, seize the desire of my flesh, strip me of my tempestuous tide (that never ending wave-song that stormed inside me, that breathed and kicked and screamed inside me). This could not be!
I shrieked like a live thing and dove deep inside my cavity, lunging for my lungs and holding fast to my now still heart. But I was dead, and I was trapped inside my own brain and bone marrow. I could not escape, but merely listen, tied up in my tangled spine while they entered my home and plundered it, grabbing with hands made of greed and slobbering chops. Dogs with knives, scavengers with means. The means and the power and the strength of a scalpel, all bent toward my own destruction.
I clambered around my arteries, seeking out my spleen and clutching onto my kidneys, gathering my poor comrades around me like a shield, like a flock of sheep, like the victims of a slaughter. While I panicked, the lady on the stage sang on, oblivious to the reaping occurring before her. The gold, engraved walls began to shake, pillars coming loose like my young, dead skin. Dust descended, ashy rain coating and dirtying me the way that the men, whose voices I could still vaguely hear above me, were now doing with their knives. I cried out, clutching to the cold red seat beside me as the walls shook with more and more ferocity, echoing my voice with their own distraught calls. I was frantic – the building was about to collapse, and I was being savaged by ghosts.
I felt each slice.
And then I felt the agony of absence, the empty place where something that pulsed with life and blood had once laid roots. They stole away the fleshy, pink balloons beneath my ribcage, stole away the clever filters in my back, stole away the sailboats and the stars that whirled, shining under my skin. They stole away my eyes. One by one, they stole away my days. They stole away my love.
I felt each and every slice.
I collapsed in the aisle between the rows upon rows of indifferent red seats, and still the lady sang. I tried to reach out to her – but it was if she did not see me or anything; she did not flinch as parts of the roof caved in around us, and her voice carried its pulsing flags across the room with a strength at which I could only marvel.
Oh, promise me, that you’ll cherish this tarnished offering.
I was choking on the dust of the collapsing room. Its red seats sagged and turned grey, gold paint chipping off the walls, the balconies rattling like bones.
And then I felt the cold, irreversible doom of the staple gun, sealing up the hollow of my cadaver, and I despaired. I called out to my chaotic, sing-song heart. She did not respond. I could only hope that she survived the winter that would befall her, far away from the warm kindness of my flesh. I was still, and all I could do was plead with the singing lady, who did not heed me. I was still, and all I could do was mourn my own loss, and mourn the sorrow that now filled me up like fog, like filthy clay, like dust.
The violent quaking of the theatre slowed, finally settling itself among the wreckage and decay of something that had once been gold and red and filled with music. The music hall was skeletal, a starved and scattered version of itself, and I felt the cold outside air surround me in its overbearing and icy cage. What changes had occurred on this wicked night. How different things were now, as I was alone and empty and deprived of the faculties that made me who I am. Who I used to be. Who I was.
Suddenly I noticed that the woman had stopped singing. She stood rigid and straight and proud upon the shattered stage, silent and glorious. Then, leaning into her tarnished microphone, she let out one final, monumental, and desperately sad breath of song,
Wild willow, windy winter, won't you blow through me?
She finished with a sad smile, then turned and walked from the stage, walking away from me and the disaster of my body.
And all I could do was be still, reminiscing about the way the rhythm of a heartbeat had once felt, reminiscing about the way I had once bled and burned and blazed with fresh young life. I reminisced about the things I used to know, things like sunshine and chocolate and the sound of children laughing, sounding just like the way a tangerine would sound, if it sounded instead of tasted. But those things were for the living, and I had changed since then. As I lay, battered, broken and unseen in the aisle of the desolate music hall, I reminisced, and all I could do was be still.
All I can do is be still.