The key is kept in the dead man’s grasp.
That was it. That was all I had. A clue whispered to me through breaks in a fever dream. I held on to it tightly. I repeated it to myself over and over so it would not slip away.
I had been aware of someone in my room- a dark figure that I immediately knew was not a nurse. He came closer. He smelled of the sea. He made no noise when he walked. I did not see his face, but I did hear him whisper. The key is kept in the dead man’s grasp. I remember the moment of clarity in hearing those words. I knew exactly what he meant. I remember nodding, or at least trying to.
And then he was gone and the room was painfully bright. Monitors beeped beside me. A nurse had just finished opening my curtains. I remembered the man. I remembered his words. But I did not remember the meaning. I tried to sit up. If I could just get to the man. If I could just get him back I could ask him what he meant. The nurse gently pushed me back down. “Good to have you back with us,” he beamed at me. He did not sound like the man. “We thought that fever might never break. It’s best if you lie still for a while, so we can keep an eye on you.”
He poured some water in to a plastic cup and handed it to me. As I drank, I looked around. The room was familiar. I knew where I was. I’d flitted in and out of consciousness in this bed and taken some of it in. It had felt like I’d had one foot here and one foot… somewhere else. Perhaps not so much flitting in and out of consciousness, as flitting between consciousness’s. I was crushed that this reality was the one which I was now confined to.
That thought arrived in my head and, as if on some kind of cue, my family arrived in my room. We talked and they seemed happy. The talked to the doctors about keeping me in for a few more days until they were sure the fever had passed. I couldn’t really focus on any of them. They had layers they kept hidden from me and I hadn’t been able to see it until now. There were secrets in their smiles, lies hidden in their hugs and in between us there was discord between who we are and who we all thought each other to be. We were all strangers on a first name basis. I was restless until they left.
They key is kept in the dead man’s grasp.
I whispered it over and over again until the sun set. Until the main lights went out. Then I got up and put on some of the clothes on that my mother had brought me and left on a chair by my bed. I took a nurse’s pass from behind reception and walked down the stairs and through the door marked ‘Morgue.’
I checked the hands of every corpse. No keys. Nothing. The closest I came to finding anything was a scalpel blade that had been left lying beside the hand of a dead man. I picked it up anyway and held it tight.
Maybe a bit too tight. The blade cut my palm.
The pain was another moment of clarity. The first I’d felt since I woke up. All of my former grogginess was gone. I grasped it tighter. My blood ran on to the floor.
I hear it drip, drip, drip. I heard it gush. I smelled the sea.
A dark figure that I knew was not a nurse stood by the doorway. “Come home,” he whispered.
Via Daily Post: Grasp