departure

June 14, 2012 Posted by the writer

Whenever an ambulance arrives at our apartment, it means someone else is dead. One of the old people. Usually over 80.

My ears are sensitive to the sound of sirens. I think it’s because of how my parents used to scream at each other. Now that I’m over 30, I usually have a decent control over loud noises.

Never sirens.

I painted my toes red and blue in middle school once for the fourth of July. Douglas Clark said they reminded him of ambulance lights.

I’ve seen seven dead bodies rolled into the back of white trucks from NYU hospital since I moved in two months ago. Eight now. I feel like there’s something comforting about dying near water. I picture transparent apparitions floating across the East River.

My lover’s chin wraps around my neck and the ends of his hair brush against my shoulders. It feels both soothing and lethal to experience this in the presence of death. Particularly when it looks like a crooked gurney with a lumpy grey sheet.

He doesn’t like when I stand silently like this next to the window. He knows what it means.

We’re the youngest pair that live in the building. We’ve tried to move, no one wants to take any tenants from this neighborhood. I think it’s because they know how long we’ll stay when we finally get to leave.

I feel like it’s my time to go.

When the gurney is propped up to be lifted into the vehicle, a hand slides off the side. The shorter of the pair of men lifting it up grabs a wrist and flips it onto the stiff body. It falls motionless on top of a breathless diaphragm.

An evening breeze encases my shoulders and the fine hairs on my arm prick with a layer of fresh goosebumps.

Tonight is the night I am going to leave.

About the writer

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gretchen's brain is preoccupied with words.

4 Responses to departure

  1. avatar Siki Dlanga says:

    I was standing with you by that window. You’re one of the finest writers I know!

  2. avatar msdebbie says:

    Breathtaking writing. I have seen death up close and admire how you write of departure. I hate the bullshit that so many put into death. Your writing gives me goosebumps! That is powerful and authentic x

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