In The Darkness by Tree Riesener

After she returned home, she spent a lot of time thinking about it.  Her life wasn’t that filled up, to waste something like an emergency operation and three days in the hospital. Once she got to her computer, there was enough stuff to look up, it could fill up the whole winter.  You had to figure it out. You lost who you were when they got you in the hospital. A lot like a can must feel like on a conveyor belt. They had their systems.  Fill out the form, snap a band with your identifying information on your wrist, wheelchair, vital signs, put you on one of those high hard beds in the emergency room. After the scan, you could tell they felt more comfortable having a name to put to it. Start the IV, give you the antiseptic wipes. Talk to the nurses and have a chat with the surgeon, who mentioned with longing what a nice day it must be down at the shore. Give me me some good deep breaths, the anesthesiologist said as he held the mask over her face. You could tell he’d said that a thousand times. But then later, in the darkness, the young resident who’d assisted at the operation, his request to let him look at her incision, his gentle fingers thinking to pull up the sheet. He leaned over, quite close to her ear. “You’re doing wonderful,” he whispered. Afterward, when she’d tracked him down, traced his records, seen he came from a well-to-do family, attended an ivy league college, spoke of his fraternity brothers, won awards, fast tracked all the way, one of them in the making, she remembered that whisper, “You’re doing wonderful,” and she wouldn’t have expected it of him.

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Tree Riesener has published poetry and fiction in print and on the internet. She is the author of  Sleepers Awake, a collection of short fiction, winner of the Eludia Award, Sowilo Press, 2015, The Hubble Cantos, Aldrich Press, 2016, and EK, to be published in 2016 by Cervena Barva Press. Her website is

Photo credit: Dirk Dreyer


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