12. Born-again Zombie (7)

I relaxed completely.

He pulled, and we all fell over—two nurses, an intern, a janitor, and I. We lay there for a moment or two, without moving, like the severed appendages of a butchered starfish, all pointing in different directions on the shiny lemon-colored linoleum in the rank spew of my birth.

“Are you ok?”

The four started helping one another to their feet. I was sitting up on the floor—exhilarated, high—heart racing, limbs thrumming delightfully from the exertion. Someone pushed my hair out of my face. I felt a big hand on my jaw, turning my head first to one side then the next. My neck was stiff like I’d slept on it wrong, and it didn’t feel good to have my head moved from side to side. The hand that cupped my chin was soft, warm, large, and pleasantly meaty. I felt my lids flutter up. I opened my eyes and stared into the face of the man who was examining me. I looked at him and I smiled.

My first smile, and not well done, I imagine. The young physician could not help but recoil. I saw the nurses’ eyes widen. One let her hand move involuntarily to her throat.

“She’s supposed to be dead,” the janitor grunted.

He had crawled to the wall, where he sat, propped up like a marionette, patting at his wounds with a white cotton handkerchief. The nurses were straightening their dresses and hats.

I couldn’t stop smiling my lockjaw-like leer because I couldn’t seem to get control over my face. This agitated me and succeeded in ratcheting up the tension in my jaw so that my jack-o-lantern grin actually widened.

—DEAD LOVE/Chapter 12.7/Born-again Zombie