He wanted the screws back. They had been inside of his body so long, that he felt they were his. They had absorbed some of who he was, and in turn, contained a part of him that he was not ready to let go.
Casually, he asked his doctor if he could have them back afterwards; a sick trophy to match his scars. The doctors eyed him queerly, and said no. This would not do; he didn’t just want them, he needed them. But the doctor could not know that.
He rubbed his arm, slowly outlining the head of one of the screws that was near the surface of his skin. His muscles and nerves flared and shuddered at this unwelcome contact. He couldn’t let them go. He wouldn’t let them go.
He asked the doctor again if he could please have the screws. Again, the doctor looked at him oddly, this time asking, “why?”
“I just want them, as a reminder.”
The doctor didn’t understand. He claimed it would be too much work to decontaminate them, and it would be best if they were destroyed. He couldn’t bear to think about them being destroyed. If they were, they would destroy a little piece of him that he’d never get back.
The doctor returned and said they were ready. He panicked, knowing this might be the last time he would have his screws. Before he could say anything else, the anesthesiologist had done his job. Four seconds later, the world was a black plain where dreams come to play.
He was angry when someone woke him. He had dreamt of a world in the future, with surreal landscapes and unreal architecture. His mind did not return immediately, and the fog of surgery crept over him like a hangover from really cheap wine. He reached for the screws; nothing. Alarmed, he tried to sit up, but the drugs outweighed his will. He slipped back into his dream.
He felt like he was overheating. Clumsily, he kicked off the blanket someone had pulled over him. His mind was much more lucid and fresh now. He overheard people talking.
A familiar man’s voice, “Looks like it was a success.”
An unfamiliar woman, “Do we report this to command?”
Familiar man again, “Probably, but we need to break this to the patient carefully.”
His screws. Where were they? He scrambled out of the bed, but collapsed heavily under the still present influence of the tranquilizers. A nurse ran to his side and lifted him so he could sit on the bed.
“My screws! My screws!”
The nurse looked at him, perplexed. The doctor came in carrying a small container with an orange lid. Inside rattled 3 small silver pieces of metal. He snatched them out of the doctor’s hand and held them close, like they were a small animal that needed his protection.
“What was that all about?”
“His mind did not take the original trauma well. He was convinced that the prosthetic arm enhancement was his real arm, and it was being held together by those three screws. He’ll need a major psyche evaluation to help him cope with his new ‘body’.”
“So those screws he’s holding weren’t actually in his arm?”
“No, I found them in the old medical archives. Can you believe they used to put people back together with regular old screws?”