Back in my place, I stand in front of the bathroom mirror, an Exacto knife in my trembling hand.
Why didn’t I obey Pa years ago, when he insisted that to be set in life with a promising career, I should study medicine?
Well, too late now.
With its easy-to-maneuver aluminum handle and a fine point blade, this knife is my weapon of choice for applying a precision cut. I use it quite often for my projects in school. Designed to slice through heavy-weight materials, it should go rather smoothly through my flesh.
Preparing for my little surgical feat, I sterilize the tool as best I can, by using a stiff nylon brush and a detergent with neutral PH. There is a little blemish at the edge of the blade. Rust. Try as I may, rubbing does little to remove it.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I know that my plan, well-intentioned as it is, is ill-conceived. You might even say it’s totally crazy. Even so, I’m determined to follow it through.
What would I give to be a fly on the wall! I’m dying to watch Dr. Patel in his office, in that big house of his in Turtle Rock, while he’s listening to everything I hear! This gadget must have cost him a fortune. So I try to be generous, try to give him his money’s worth by playing a CD, over and over again. This way, the music will cover any cry that may, by accident, escape my throat.
Somehow, I doubt Dr. Patel likes Beyoncé. She is my favorite singer. I love the defiance in the first line. I imagine it’s mine:
You can taste the dishonesty
It’s all over your breath as you pass it off so cavalier
Then, here comes that sinister note. I imagine it’s his:
My lonely ear
Pressed against the walls of your world
My headache has kicked up a notch, so I guess he’s listening right now, as we speak. Already, I feel a bit dizzy. I totter across the bathroom, drag the stool over, and plop down on it so as not to lose my balance.
Meanwhile, the gadget gives off a slight vibration. How I haven’t noticed it before is beyond me. But now that I do, the rattling consumes all my attention. I must, must, must cut this thing out. It prevents me from thinking straight.
Problem is, I can’t see the exact spot where it resides, because it’s hidden from view under my earlobe. To find it, I have to set aside the knife, finger the little bump in the middle of that scar, commit its position to memory—mainly by touch—and pick up the knife again.
This, I’m afraid, is going to be messy.
But I’m ready. Well, as ready as I’ll ever be.
Months after recovering from coma, Ash discovers that the man who performed her brain surgery has a questionable medical experience and a dark past. Should she expose him, at the risk of becoming vulnerable to his revenge?
"Beauty of prose bound together with a sensitive thriller make this very special new series from a very fine writer."
- Grady Harp, Hall of Fame, Top 100 Reviewer
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