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Gail Louise Chagall

My husband is hooked up to the dialysis machine when there is a power surge in the clinic. Three machines go on the blink; his monitor's screen dissolves to fuzz. Maybe someone in an upstairs condo is using a power tool or fiddling with the fuse box.

His blood slows its spinning throught the plastic tubes which suck it from his body to wash. An artificial kidney means to clean it, then pump it to a vein in his bicep. But the cycle stops and his blood coagulates.

A nurse unhooks him and takes his wasted plasma and hemoglobin from the poly vinyl straw. It's not blood now; it's silly string. The nurse folds it back on itself like somebody's grandma winding a new skein of yarn into a ball.

You've sure got good platelets, she says.

I picture her bypassing the red plastic hazard box, and lobbing his blood in the trash that's destined for the dumpster out back. A wayward cat will make it her toy. Calico paws will toss a stringy ball high in the lamp-lit air or chase it through the alley's shadows.

At daylight it will scrunch beneath the nurse's wheels, or my husband's wheels, as they angle in to park and pass through the door, back to the kidney-go-round. It's back to the needles and tubes, the bloody rinse, cycle and spin.


Gail Louise Chagall directs a public interest group in Chicago, IL, USA and is writing for an MFA at the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her work has appeared under various names in Zoetrope All-Story Extra, FictionFix, The Salt River Review (Sparta to Elroy and The Telemarketer's Point of View) and Brevity, and is upcoming in Outsider Ink.

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