Ward Rounds by Alexis Wolfe

I overhear one nurse telling another: she’s a strange old bird.

They’ve no idea I used to be a real siren. Now I’m of an age where I mostly forget I’ve put stuff in the oven until the smoke alarm goes off.

Redundant fragments of me have been excised, according to the consultant. He said which bits, but I wasn’t concentrating. The level of focus he was applying to my wellbeing was extremely distracting.

My husband won’t be back until the weekend, the bus times don’t fit with visiting hours. No, no, forgotten again. My husband is dead. He won’t be visiting at all. I’ll make do with the company of these doctors. The one that said: three days recovery and you’ll be right as rain, he’s my favourite.

Three days, three ward rounds to enchant him on. I’ve captivated men in less time before, but with lower lighting and more alcohol. A stiff challenge. Especially if the nurse doesn’t agree to take this catheter out soon.

I’ll allow myself one witty response to his ‘how are you feeling today’, one light arm touch, a good number of compliments. Several other potentials to practice on, the cleaner smells zesty, although his English is limited, and there’s a spotty junior doctor syphoning blood each evening. He’ll do.

It’s good to diversify; not put all my eggs in one basket. Eggs haha! Not anymore. When Consultant Charm described what he’d removed, I imagined my abdomen hollow, smooth like inside the shell of a scooped out hard-boiled egg.

‘No, no,’ he said. ‘It’s not like that at all. There are still plenty of other organs in there, and everything is held in place by a good deal of scar tissue, my dear. Some of it dissolved when I touched it, like cobwebs, and in other places it was very solid.’

It was strangely intimate, knowing he’d been inside, seen places within me that I’d never witnessed.

I wonder if the nurses told him I’m famous in town for feeding the pigeons. If he fantasized about me, in the small garden of my resident supported housing, a murmuration of starlings overhead.

Once I get out of here, we can feed the birds together.

I picture him, arms outstretched, his dark eyes tipped skyward, a cloud of birds above my bungalow roof. Birds everywhere, chirping, circling, swooping for sprinkled seed. I imagine us whooping jubilantly, a thunderous beating of wings, wing-wind fanning our cheekbones, my shock of white hair aglow amongst a feathery cyclone.

Alexis Wolfe is a writer living in Berkshire, UK. Her work has been published in Mamalode, The London Reader, The Wild Word, and is forthcoming in Spelk Fiction and a Retreat West anthology. Alexis tweets at @LexiWolfeWrites

Two birds in front of the Eiffel Tower
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