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Stories & Scripts

Source: Adults

Author: Penny Graham

Title: Credit voucher

I was angry, anyone would have been, I’m quite sure of that. After I’d kept my appointment I knew I definitely didn’t need any more hassle that day so I decided to treat myself to lunch in the café on the corner of the High Street. Then my fork disturbed a dead fly in the damp greenstuff on my plate and I felt the anger rise in me like it used to, like a thing that wanted to eat me. But I managed to swallow it – my anger, I mean – and took the plate back to the counter with the curled-up corpse floating visibly in the tomato sauce from one of those little sachets they make you pay extra for. The dark-haired harassed girl who’d served me replaced the salad without comment or question.

There was another time, too, I remember, when I returned an expensive jacket to the department store just outside the new shopping mall. After I’d bought it, I’d been forced to admit to myself within the unforgiving walls of my own room that it wasn’t my style after all. On that occasion I was angry with myself, but they gave me a credit voucher without hesitation.

It was later, when I found the dull bruised marks on my torso, that I knew I wouldn’t be able to take my life back and demand a new body with credit for a full seventy years already scanned in. Where would I go? I don’t know of a shop that would exchange a voucher for replacement DNA. Even I know life doesn’t work like that. When your time’s up… that’s what they say. Or maybe they don’t say it in this kind of situation. The phrase just came into my mind. I’ve done my time, I thought.

So if they offer me another transfusion, I shall refuse. So far my lifeblood has only run for half its time, barely 35 years of its allotted 3 x 20 + 10. I’m not angry now but I don’t want my blood mixed with what may be younger or, for all I know, older blood.

Believe it or not, I signed a Donor Card a little while ago, shortly after they released me. Have you noticed nowadays there’s a confusion between the meanings of discharge and release, the difference between volition and compulsion? They won’t be discharging me from hospital now – this date of release is a different matter altogether.

I know there’s a waiting list for most organ transplants, although strangely not for blood. Only the most desperate, most vulnerable (or will it be the most worthy and deserving?) will receive, on lifetime lease, whatever’s left of me. Whatever’s still functionable, that is.

…he’s there again, the doctor, I can see him standing over there in the doorway. Sometimes he’s silhouetted by the light from the corridor and sometimes he’s in shadow. I get confused and can’t tell if he’s waiting for me or if I’m waiting for him. But I shall tell him that my blood, my blood alone, I reserve to myself… life preserver… life server. No blood for blood shed, a shot discharged, bloodshot… serve deserve time release… cease decease… …

…only credit my account… my name is on the card…

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