Phlebotomist: one who is trained to draw blood from a patient for clinical or medical testing, transfusions, donations, or research.
Her name was…Deb.
I shall never forget the first time I laid eyes on her. She was a brilliant streak of color in a dull grey world. She was the breath of crisp air in a stifled room. She was wonderful, the queen of her domain.
She strode past me, clad in flowing jade green that hung from her body like robes of royalty.
She walked to a door and disappeared into a room across the way.
And I, I was paralyzed in the chair in which I sat. I could hardly blink, barely force my lungs to take air.
“Mr. Bevevino,” a woman calls my name. But I ignore it. No, it is not as if I do not wish to respond, but only that I cannot muster my senses to do so.
“Mr. Bevevino,” the voice calls again. The woman succeeds this time, succeeds in breaking the stupor that the goddess Deb has cast over me. I come to, and my surroundings are apparent once more.
I’m in a hospital waiting to have my blood taken. The waiting room smells of dust and the cologne of the old man sitting next to me. The lights were once bright, but now, my eyes blurred, I am not so sure.
“Mr. Bevevino,” calls the woman once more. She’s sitting behind a small window. “You need to fill out some paperwork.”
I stand, but my knees creek with fresh love’s rust. I make my way to the window.
But there, in a room behind the window, I see her again.
I can see her name proclaimed in small letters just above her left breast.
“Deb,” I whisper to myself, and I feel that the name itself deserves a soft pillow to land on as it gently tumbles out of my mouth. “Deb.”
She stands there gleaming in her green garb. She smiles and laughs, talking to someone else in the room. Then she reaches down and procures something peculiar. A pair of latex gloves. She wiggles her fingers into a glove with such virtuosic grace. She bends down to pick up something else. A hypodermic needle.
I stand on my tip toes and see that sitting in front of Deb is an old woman. Deb sits down in front of the old woman, smiles a smile that could cast love spells on the stoniest cynics, and slides the needle into the old woman’s arm.
Crimson liquid spurts into a vial connected to the needle.
Could it be? Oh I hope it is so. But it is too good to be true! Could Deb be the one to draw my blood? Oh lovely Deb, you need not a needle to summon life from my veins. You need only your vibrant, intoxicating existence.
“Mr. Bevevino,” the knave behind the window crows, “we’ll need you to finish that paperwork.”
I sneer at the wench. She knows nothing of love.
When I look up again to find the fair Deb, she is gone. There is only the old woman sitting there, holding a cup of orange juice and a small powdered donut. I frown down at the cursed paperwork and scratch my information in the blank spaces.
“Thank you, Mr. Bevevino. You can take a seat and we’ll call you when we’re ready.”
I retreat to the chair to which I am banished. Oh how my heart aches. Oh what cruel punishment this is! I must know if it is her who will sink the needle into my vein. I must know if it is her who will hold my love-saturated essence.
“Mr. Zissmann,” calls the wench from behind the window. “You can come back now.” The old, cologne-soaked man sitting next to me, Zissmann I presume, stands and walks, inching along in the way that the particularly old seem to do, towards the door on the other side of the room.
Curse you, Zissmann. You are not fit to be seen by Deb. How she will recoil at your presence! Her nose will be fouled with your musky stench. I pray she rams the needle not into your arm, but straight into your heart. Curse you, foul Zissmann!
I sit in the waiting room, clenching my fists and jaw. I picture them together, Zissmann and Deb, and my head fumes.
I sit and wait for five minutes more.
Zissmann emerges from the door across the way. He smiles snidely as he sips a cup of orange juice
“Mr. Bevevino,” the wench behind the window calls. “We’re ready for you now.”
My heart sprints. I stand and go quickly to the door across the room. I reach for the knob, but my hand quakes. I pull away. I feel as if I might faint.
“You can go in, Mr. Bevevino,” squawks the wench.
Love must not be rushed you foul beast! Love must find its own course. It must make its own way.
I worry not of the wench’s disturbance. I march forward, ever forward to the divine Deb.
I straighten my shirt, inhale deeply, and open the door.
I am greeted by a bald man with white spittle at the corners of his mouth.
“You can take a seat over there,” the ogre belches.
I frown distinctly as I pass him by and move to one of the chairs. Oh please let it not be that abomination who punctures me.
Thankfully the beast disappears through another door on the other side of the room. Now I am left alone. Left all alone with my delightful thoughts of Deb. It must be her who takes my blood. It must be. Fate has twisted us together, two strands that constitute life’s complex twine.
But what will happen when she lays her eyes on me for the first time? What will she think of me? Surely she will think me ordinary, transparent as the window behind which the wench does her bidding. Perhaps an offering will improve my standing. Yes, a gift for fair Deb!
I have nothing, however. My pockets are empty. Oh, how stupid I am. Unprepared for true love’s calling! But wait, what’s this? A pen? Yes! And there on the desk, some paper. Like Shakespeare before me, I shall scribe a poem!
Sweet Deb, you are as bright as crystal snow,
You gleam in ways diamonds only envy.
If not for you, beauty the world shan’t know.
I see, the world it flows ‘round you and me.
Fair Deb, you show me how life’s dreams should play,
Your stride so soft, your air, fluorescent bright.
With you, a home of warmth I wish to stay,
Your heart is one for which I’ll always fight.
Sweet Deb, there’s not a thought that flows less you,
My head it swims with plans for our young years.
Your trials and woes I wish to get you through,
So music of our care and love we’ll hear.
My Deb, find in these words my feelings real.
Tis just your mind and soul I long to feel.
No sooner than I put away my pen, the door across the room opens. I am struck with anxiety. Adrenaline jolts into my veins. I stuff the poem into my pocket, and I gaze at the door, my eyes wide, awaiting my fate.
And she strolls into the room like the soft wind that blows seeds from dandelions. She comes to me, and in my world there is only Deb.
“Hello,” she says, her voice like spun honey.
And to her, I say back, “Hello.”
She comes before me and prepares her instruments. She slides her hands into a new pair of latex gloves. Oh how I will dream of her fingers, beautiful enough on their own, but brought new life when bathed in the latex’s baby blue.
She leans forward and secures a rubber tourniquet to my arm. My veins bulge for her. I see the pale smoothness of her skin, and the rich color of her brown eyes. She smells of laundry detergent, and I am intoxicated.
“Are you ready?” she asks.
I nod my head.
She rubs some brown liquid on a spot just beneath my elbow and reaches over and picks up a needle. It glints in the light of the room.
“Ok,” she says as she looks at me. “You’ll feel a small pinch.”
It is more than a pinch I must feel, fair Deb, to disturb the sensation that love has thrown upon me.
Deb sits on a stool and, needle in hand, comes closer to me.
She looks at me and smiles. I smile back at her with hopes that the curves of my lips depict what swells inside me.
She inches closer. “Here we go. And here’s your small pinch.”
She pushes the needle into my arm. I feel nothing.
“Doing ok?” she asks.
“Yes,” I say, gazing at her face.
She watches the vile as it gradually fills with my blood.
I feel for the poem in my pocket. How best to give it to her? I can’t simply hand it over. No. That won’t do. I need to do something more…romantic.
But what? What should I do…
Yes. A kiss.
A kiss will show her how I feel. A kiss will show her that my passion is so intense that I cannot resist her. And I cannot resist her. Yes. A kiss.
She’s watching the vile fill with my blood, and I lean towards her. I move slowly as to not startle her, but I steadily approach her and her supple lips. I do not close my eyes because to miss even a second of seeing her is tragedy.
I’m so close now, close enough to feel the heat from her body. I ready my lips for the kiss.
At the perfect moment, she looks up.
Her eyes meet mine, and she’s electrified.
“Ah!” Deb screams, and she falls back onto the floor.
I recoil and see her laying on the ground. There’s a look of terror on her face. She starts to scramble back, away from me.
What…what has happened? Where have I gone wrong?
She gawks at me, so afraid. Seeing her there, I feel as if my heart has been hollowed with a dull paring knife. The color drains from my face along with the hope in my soul.
I, I too am terrified. Terrified at the thought of living my life having suffered the rejection of Deb.
I start to feel faint. The room is uneasy. I sway in my chair.
I look to her again, expecting to see an expression of horror on her face as she stares into my eyes. But she isn’t looking at my eyes. She’s looking at my arm.
My arm from which the needle was ripped as she fell away.
Blood pumps from the now sizable hole just below my elbow. Each time my heart beats, another spurt springs from my vein. Bump, spurt. Bump, spurt. Bump, spurt.
Lines and spackles of deep red form on the floor below me. Warm blood stains my pants. As I gaze at the blood leaking from my arm, I begin to fall.
I collapse on the floor.
I am slain. Slain by my love! Slain by Deb!
What sorrow I feel. What pain I feel. I am drained. Drained of all my love. Drained of all my life!
Suddenly I see here there, hovering over top of me. The spittle-mouthed ogre and the wench from behind the window appear, too. They are all tending to me.
But it is only Deb I wish to see.
I do see her, just above my face. There is worry in her eyes. She cares for me. I can see it now. Oh I knew she did. I knew she felt what was between us.
Everything starts to fade. The edges of Deb’s face soften. The room spins slowly. She speaks, but her words are muffled. I cannot hear her. I only see her looking into my eyes as all fades to black.
In the last seconds before I let go, I try to reach up to her. I am weak, and my arm trembles.
“Deb,” I whisper.
My arm falls to my side. And as her name leaves my lips, I close my eyes, and I let myself fall into the dream of her and me.
This is probably one of the longest pieces of short fiction I’ve ever written (apologies for the length). It’s not too long, but typically I keep my pieces much shorter. I wanted to try writing more of an actual “short story” though, so here we are.
This is fiction, if you couldn’t gather, but I had the idea for this story when I was getting my blood taken recently. Perhaps it’s a bit over the top, but intentionally so. Regardless, I hope you liked it.
p.s. The poem that the main character writes is a real live sonnet (of the Shakespearean form if I did it correctly). It was my first sonnet, and I must say that it was really damn hard.