There was an audible twang. Turning back, he wrinkled his brow in disgust. Four! Four perfectly placed stitches had torn loose so far. He was baffled and more than a bit annoyed. Peering at the remainder of the skein, he examined it for defects; it looked perfectly fine. He wrapped a short length around his fingers and gave a hard tug. He received nothing but resistance for his effort. A bit perplexed, his fingers slipped between her lips to remove the defective stitch; he inspected it thoroughly with a loop before discarding it with the others.
Making his way to the old apothecary cabinet his grandfather had used many years ago, he opened each draw until he finally found what he was looking for – catgut. Sometimes the old-fashioned way was the only way. Threading the much thicker needle with the coarse sinew, he finished the sutures. He stood and stared in consternation for a good ten minutes willing them to stay fast yet daring them to break free. Finally satisfied, he turned to reach for the clay and began the final stages of reconstruction.
Two hours later, after finishing the cosmetic details, he gazed down upon the face he had just rebuilt and was pleased with his efforts. He’d done a fine job of reconstructing her crushed bones and concealing the bruised tissue. She looked peaceful, almost angelic, but the sedative would soon wear off. After a brief wait, a slight murmur reached his ears; one eye began to tear open. As his grandfather used to say, ‘death was just around the corner, one should always be prepared,’ though he doubted his grandfather had meant it in quite the same manner.
With a deep sigh, he inserted a trocar into the femoral vein to drain the body, then moved to insert another into her brachial artery to introduce the chemical mixture. The art of embalming was one so few had the opportunity to experience, to appreciate. Apparently, she was not in an appreciative mood.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
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