By Roger Still
My right arm disappeared today. I have come to suspect the nurses and doctors of putting other drugs into my usual mix. I consider using my teeth to yank out the I.V. before I drift away to sleep.
When I wake up, the wallpaper looks different but my body seems to be in the same crumpled form. Like a piece of paper left on the floor. The wallpaper was forest green, now it is olive.
When I wake up again, the feeling has returned that I am in my old forest green room. Some television show is playing and I swear the whole premise of the episode is that someone has taken someone else’s coffee cup. There is a lot of polite chatter, like life.
They replaced my arm with a mechanical one that looks exactly like the old skin one. I can tell the difference. Those movements are not my muscles. There is a scratching outside the door.
My arm is now a tentacle. It waves in the air. A nurse is with me but I am strangling her with my new serpentine arm. It is distressing. I tell myself to stop but find I am unable. It is as if my arm is a body all to itself and I am its impotent carrier.
The scratching sound continues. My arm is now normal again, just a little bruised. I think someone is taking it and then bringing it back.
Without meaning to, I doze for a moment and then find a perfect arm. This is not the same room, with wallpaper, hospital noises, and antiseptic odors. The I.V. is gone. There is still scratching outside the door.
I hate cats.
When I walk out into the hallway, I trip over an object that used to be there. I moved it. I thought. There is a faint sound, like a whimper. Then I walk further down the hallway, around a corner.
Finally, after what seems like an hour, I find the front door. I test it, but it is locked, of course. You have to have a number and I don’t have the number. I never have the number. The face looking back at me in the glass is a lot like mine. It is mine.
When I finally wake up, the I.V. is back. I am tired of the chemicals and the changing wallpaper. I want to scream but my throat is raw and it really would do no good. Not again, not again, I could say. But screams happen here all the time.
My right arm is now a weapon I use against myself.