TITLE: Surgical Wounds
The hour of my dinner is dependent on the timing of someone’s death. This thought, nebulous at first, explodes with abrupt clarity, right there in the foyer of the House of Hunan. It’s like when you stare at one of those pictures, and a bunch of blurred dots suddenly become a shape that you can’t believe you didn’t see right away. And once you see it, it can’t be unseen. When she dies, we can eat. I start to fidget, clutching the warm take-out bag close as the machine spits out my credit card receipt.
I’m certain the other patrons are eyeing me suspiciously. It seems the young cashier, her mouth pinched in a frown, knows my secret: if the woman on the 5th floor at the county hospital dies in the next five minutes, I can eat as soon as I get there. If she hangs on, clinging to her shredded and painful life a little longer, then I will have to wait. I try to pretend I am okay either way, but my stomach growls it’s own urgent opinion. I’m hungry, and I’m a horrible person, because essentially, I want to rush her inevitable demise.
The proper etiquette for this situation eludes me. Maybe we shouldn’t be eating at all? The woman is about to die. That part is certain. Her family will be called, and their lives altered forever. It seems so twisted that the only thing that will change for me is food: hot or cold.