The Operation

The release of the lock clicked and the air hissed as it escaped into the hallway. William adjusted his facemask and stepped into the frodic chamber. Inside, past the tubes and machines with their biochemical hazard stickers sat the Telmer tank that was the centre of this unsettling affair. William gazed at the newly grown appendage, all slick within the synthetic amniotic fluid that supported and fed it in its development and he felt his stomach turn. Within an hour his patient would have already succumbed to the gentle magic of the anaesthetist and he would be gowned-up for surgery. As he switched off the light and returned to his office, he mulled on the fact that he was honestly not prepared at all.


William was one of the best in his field. Having started his career in the emergency ward, the hours and conditions wore him down steadily and he transferred into the emerging field of bioremplastation – organic prosthesis. Through his ground breaking technique of briquar-synthesis he could generate flesh, muscle and bone from donor cells; through a strange train of events he found himself in the bizarre world of female-to-male gender reassignment. And as much as he tried to enjoy his work, he found himself in a professional funk.

It was in this period malaise that he took the phone call with a special request. It would make him both rich and famous, the caller promised; yet from the first time they met he felt a great sense of unease about her. When she picked him up from his office that afternoon he knew this wasn’t another case of a woman trapped in a man’s body. It was obvious from her elegantly sculpted face and enhanced bustline she was already a woman well-acquainted with her own cosmetic surgeon yet his boredom and curiosity held his interest.

She made small talk in the car before pulling into the zoo, completely nonchalant as if she held meetings there all the time. After leading him around past the penguins and the elephants and screaming crowds of schoolchildren, she sat down on a little bench in front of a large exhibit filled with kangaroos lazing in the sunshine.

“I have to admit, you don’t fit the mould of my typical patient,” he confessed to her. “You seem too . . . too . . .”

“Too vanilla, Dr. Chan?” she replied with an unreadable grin.

“Well, that’s not quite how I would have put it,” he replied. “And please, call me William.”

She smiled, bearing perfectly manicured teeth. “No, Dr. William, I haven’t called on you for that,” she trailed off and sighed looking wistfully at the kangaroos idly grazing. “You know, when I was a little girl, my Daddy took us on holiday to Australia. He was filming there for a few weeks so he took us all along with him. I was only about six. Yet of everything on that trip, I was never more fascinated by anything as I was with the kangaroos . . .”


William washed his hands thoroughly and slipped on the gloves. His patient was already under, lying serenely in the theatre surrounded by machines and his handpicked team of theatre nurses. Beside the operating table sat the Telmer tank with its troubling contents. William took a deep breath and stepped forward.

“Scalpel . . .” The operation started routinely, but William could feel the tension within the team. “Critapers . . .” and the critapers appeared in his hands, and he applied them to the incision, widening the cut. Everything was working like clockwork. As soon as the graft area was prepared he gave his team a quick look. Underneath their steely professionalism he could see the same doubts and fears he could feel himself, but with a quick nod from his anaesthetist for support, he opened the Telmer tank. Pushing down the rising nausea, he reached in . . .


“I suppose you think I’m being rather rendaconté about it, but I’m serious.”

One of the kangaroos had a joey: the clumsy little creature looked far too big, but they watched him claw and clamber into his mother’s pouch and position himself with his little head and his two massive legs protruding out as his mother leaned back and worked a mouthful of grass around her teeth.

“What will your husband think?” William asked, still shocked at the proposal.

“Oh, he’s accepted it. He just wants me to be happy,” she cooed. “Ever since I was a little girl, this is all I’ve wanted. Tell me, William,” she continued, “this tail of mine – can you make it as strong as a real one? I want to be able to use it to balance . . . ”

The Operation

stillbeing

Abbotsford, Australia

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Artist's Description

Written for a short story competition where the brief was to include a set of imaginary words. I’m not really sure why I came up with what I did, but you’re free to draw your own conclusions on what that reflects of my thought processes.

  • All constructive critique welcomed!

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