The Woman In Charge of Sensation
Dawn Raffel

Reprinted from NOON, by the kind permission of editor Diane Williams and the author

She asked me just to use the cloth in places in between again.
She used the word pearl.
The bruises were looked at professionally. This was not a fall, they said -- not simply a fall, they said -- but likely a condition. They were firm about this, and spoke as if in confidence, if not out of earshot.
"Can't you turn it down?" she said. Voices, a faucet. "The phone off the hook," she said. "Just pay attention."
On the floor the atomizer lay where she had dropped it, beading the plank.
"Careful where you step," she said. The room smelled expensive.
She gathered up pillows, in a strategy, apparently, to elevate herself -- at least some of herself. She was ripping out something. "Look at," she said. Things wadded inside her. Additional symptoms: Nostril, the works. She needed to flatten herself and pinch.
Balls of wool were on the throw. "It's crooked," she said.
There was more of her broken.
The experts were summoned, consulted, apprised. These were uninflicted damages. Everyone was compensated.
There amid the draped sheets; a slung arm, this, that -- "I'd call it disagreeable," she said in concurrence. She tapped on the drip. "Prop me," she said. "Lift me a little. Pummel and plump," she said. "Go ahead and hit."
She had what she'd made, retrieved from the house. It was as she'd requested. Needles too.
They told her to make a fist and squeeze.
"What was the question?" -- the woman in charge of sensation, a nurse. Marrow, cells, etcetera. A density ratio. "It works like this."
It was a button and such. "Easy," they said. "Easy does it with that."
I was not next of kin. There was no one who heard me.
They covered her later.
Salt was on her lip in there, and fluid leaking out of her. The odds were against this. It tasted like salt. I said it tasted like salt. There was no one who asked me.
It was I who dried her. I wrapped the thing around my neck, as she'd intended, arguably. I said the odds were against it.
The ankle was healing still, they said.