Conscious Sedation in Room 48G by Sarah Sorensen
Working the tooth back and forth with my tongue, I begin to feel the pain of it. Something, some large bird, pecked it loose while I have lain here semi-conscious under the influence of whatever was put into my IV. This thing, this bird thing, had been only half visible to my blank, stoned eyes and immobile hands. It had hovered over me, neatly pulverizing the upper left canine tooth while the rest of me remained safe, untouched.
This happened on the previous night as well; at least I believe that it was the previous night. My sense of time has become suspect. On that occasion it was the upper right canine, and that is long gone now. The large bird had appeared in the night, pecking into my mouth with its long razor beak, and then too I had been immobile.
I wonder if the bird will return. I swallow hard. I swallow and swallow and swallow the tooth. The open gap matches the other side. I try to stretch out my arms and fail. The large bird is winning. The large bird is winning just a little bit more every day. Each day I feel weaker, each day more inept. My brain struggles to make sense of its surroundings.
The nurse scolds me for losing another tooth and then, for swallowing it. “The bird,” I struggle to say, “the bird.”
“No,” she says. “Another will not grow in its place.”
I try again, but she cannot make sense of my words and repeats herself. Her nimble hands prod and poke, and her efficient face points down at me. I look at the huge mound of my belly, the place upon which the bird so often perches. I try hard to recognize it as my own.
My mother’s face appears over me. I try to call to her, to ask to go home, but again I feel my own thick tongued, foggy headed defeat. Pathetic and ineffectual tears roll to the pillow. My fists will not fist and I cannot bang them on the rails of this too long too thin bed.
“It won’t be long now,” she says soothingly. “The stork is coming. The stork is coming and after he helps you drop that bundle, you’ll be feeling all better.”
As she says this, she strokes my bulbous stomach and I feel someone beating against the inside of me. I feel someone trapped. The thing beating against me is both myself and someone else. I try again to speak, but my lips wobble and I drool. My saliva mixes with a thin stream of blood, and the thick liquid issues from the new gap in my mouth. I wonder if the thing inside thinks, or if it just lives on sensation. I will it to telepathically understand that we are under duress. I will it to resist the bird. To help me fight. All I feel is blankness now. It is still and I am still. We may not be breathing. I look into Mother’s face, but her face is now looking elsewhere. Her hands fiddle with the trays and forks and water pitchers at my side.
Sighing, Mother turns toward the door.
I hear the tremendous wings beating as she leaves the room.
Sarah Sorensen’s work has most recently been published online or in print at The Battered Suitcase, Knee-Jerk, The Ear Hustler, Metazen, Short, Fast and Deadly, Staccato, Dark Sky, and Bastards and Whores. She will be presenting scholarship on radical, sex-positive, queer pornography at the 2012 Popular Culture Conference in Boston.