“I wonder how you do it” she said, dropping the tumbler on the wooden counter. Henry watched the lager foam run down the sides. He took a long swig of the icy cold beer before responding.
“Death is money. Someone’s got to do it”
“But still, doesn’t it depress you?” she asked, watching him
“I enjoy it. I get paid well to trim their nails, comb their hair and alas – Prepare them for the final destination. I’m their servant or that’s how I like to see it”
“Hey, keep the change” Henry said, dropping the cash on the counter. He looked at the time. It was 7:06pm, six minutes past his shift time. He whistled as he walked the side street towards the only blue walled building – the only morgue in Sanday. He clocked in his card and went ahead to wear his scrubs.
“There’s a new one Henry” his assistant said, rolling in the tray. The tires squeaked against the tiles as she veered it to the center.
“You can leave Pen. I can take it from here” Henry said. He liked working alone during his night shifts. That way, he felt more natural with them. Pen muttered a “good night” and skipped out the washroom.
“Now let’s take a look at you”
Henry gasped in horror as he lifted the blue covers. He had looked after a lot of bodies – old men, bulky women, young children; and he sometimes tried to imagine the lives they lived, who they were but never had he washed one battered and so young. From her face, he could tell she was no more than 10 or 9 in age. There was the missing eye and fractured nose that was now dark purple. There were bruises to her rib cage like she had been hit with a blunt tool. Who would-
He turned to find his silver bowl on the floor. Thinking nothing of it, he placed the cover on the table. He had made two strides when-
The bowl ricocheted off the floor, right where he’d picked it.
“Now that’s creepy” he thought.
Clang! Pang! Clang! His tools toppled over as if an invisible hand had overturned his station. He stood wide eyed and terrified at the little figure that skipped across the room.
“Don’t touch that” he managed to say, his hands shaking. Cold sweat formed on his temple.
The little girl paused, blinking at him with one good eye. Her hands hovered between the freezers.
“You…you can see me?” she asked.
“Yes” he whispered. Fear gripped his throat.
“Are you afraid of me?” she asked. Henry thought he saw sadness in her eyes. He nodded.
The little girl stared at her feet.
“Its okay. I’m scared of me too” she said. “But I won’t hurt you. Sorry I did that, I’m just…scared”
Henry considered making for the door but his legs won’t budge even though he could hear his heart beat in his ears. He turned to the tray…yup! Her body was still there, cold and pale with hair cut low in a fade.
“Carry on with your work. I won’t disturb.” she said, walking to sit cross legged on the only chair in the room. “Who are you?”
“Henry. And who are you?” he managed to say.
“Mary” She replied.
“How did you end up…end up like this”
“I don’t know. All I can remember are hands. Strong hands holding me and hitting me”.
“Well, there should be something on your card. I’ll check, right after I…” He said, his voice trailing off. It was so surreal; so off putting and yet he still had to work. Mary was quiet and he appreciated her for keeping things almost normal till he finished.
“Right” he said, perusing down the card.
Features: Ebony, 4″5, 62.0lb
Condition: Bruised rib cage, Fractured Nose and Punctured eye socket
Statements: Most likely a victim of gang mobbing. Victim was found on Oakland street with one belonging – a red purse and one passport photo
Delivery Officer: Officer Barnes, Sanday Police.
“At least now we know where you were. We can find out what happened.” Henry said. They were standing in the hall way. The lights flicker to signal the end of his shift. “Do you want to know?”
There was a solemn look to her that tugged at his chest. He wanted to know too.