Sitting on the couch late at night, as the smell of phenol sought escape from my pores, I slammed the damn Netter Atlas shut.
Done. I was done.
My brain could take no more. The exam the next day had already been passed or failed. Any further cramming I attempted to do was not likely to be of benefit.
Still, I knew sleep would not come.
I grabbed the remote. A joke, really, as my apartment was so tiny I could sit on the couch and prop my feet up on the TV table on the far wall.
The screen flickered then glowed.
“Call the psychic network, now! Only $9.95 for five minutes. Plus $1.99 for each additional minute.”
I laughed to myself. All of those suckers out there…
I could call. Find out how I would do tomorrow. Maybe then I could sleep. That wouldn’t take long. Five minutes, max.
My purse sat mocking me from the end of the worn pea green sofa. My credit card was nestled safely inside. The cordless phone was on the table by the TV.
A dial tone.
“Hold please as I connect you to Madame Larkin.”
Pleasant hold music.
“Good evening, I am Madame Larkin.” The voice was airy, like she had been smoking something illegal. I cringed, embarrassed at myself. “What can I help you with?” Oh, well. My five dollars was spent even if I hung up now. I was going to get my money’s worth. I sat my watch in front of me, watching the time.
“Perhaps you can tell me?” I sniggered.
The woman was trying to drag this out to maximize her charge!
Just as I was about to hang up, her voice returned. This time it was commanding.
“I see 4-5 people dressed in white pajamas hovering around a young woman. Lots of cold metal. I see a blade. A knife perhaps? But she is already dead.”
My cadaver, Lucille, is young. We wear our white coats, scrubs. My heart is beating a bit faster as I realize that I am leaning forward in my seat.
“Do you say this to everybody?”
“No. The woman told me. She says her name is not Lucille.”
“Her name is not Lucille. It’s Amy.”
“I see paintings.”
The medical school was in the arts district, surrounded by two world class art museums. Was she tracing my number? Doing a google search for my name? How would she know the name we gave the cadaver? My tank mates and I were the only ones who knew that!
“How did she die?” It was a detail she could not possible know. Hell, I didn’t even know.
“Look, lady. How did she die?”
I hung up on her, relieved. Car accident was not possible. Too much trauma. No good for dissection.
My eyelids felt heavy.
I slept with the lights on.
The next day, after the exam, I told a classmate about my exchange with the psychic. Someone I could trust to not blab about the whole humiliating experience. She agreed the story was terribly strange, but her curiosity was piqued. It took quite a lot of cajoling to get me to agree to relate it all to someone who could vouch for the veracity of the “psychic”.
We found the head of the anatomy department, an old chubby fellow with a stringy comb over, and told him the story. He laughed it off, which made me feel better.
The next day, as my team was standing around the huge silver tank, staring a Lucille, I realized I could not cut. It was my day, my turn in the rotation. I couldn’t do it.
“Someone else is going to have to take the knife!” No one moved. “Please, people?”
In a few seconds the professor was standing at the door to the lab, trying to catch my eye. He motioned me into the hallway. He seemed genuinely excited.
“We don’t get names, only initials. So I cross referenced female bodies with the first initial ‘A’ and age between 20-40 who had trauma listed as cause of death. There is only one here, your cadaver.”
Oh, God. I am haunted. I will have a cadaver haunting me for the rest of my life now! I searched my memories, frantically making sure I had not done anything remotely disrespectful. Nothing. Except cut her! Oh, God!
“Have you had this sort of thing happen before? What do I do?”
His unhelpful shrug only made me feel worse.