If you stay long enough with someone, no matter whom that is, you end up developing feelings for them. It’s like it is with furniture. You hardly ever acknowledge its existence, and you use it all the time but when it breaks you realize how much you actually liked it. But that’s not love, is it? It’s just getting used to someone. That should never be enough. But strangely a lot of people are content with it.
That’s how it was with Nina and I. I wasn’t all that fond of her when she moved in. I didn’t hate her. But I didn’t particularly like her either. She was just there. She existed and I had to live with that. Initially I hardly ever looked at her. But when I was home alone, we ended up having the deepest conversations. It was all very one sided, but she was all I had.
One night we were talking about our ambitions. Actually just my ambitions, because all we ever talked about revolved around me. I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, just like dad was. I wanted to become his apprentice if I may say, and help him. He was like a magician when he looked through the microscope into those cells he used to bring home. I loved that he treated me as his equal, and never just a child. I loved how hard he tried to make me feel useful.
However I hated that I was the reason he had to quit his research. I hated that I was the reason we went flat broke. He couldn’t handle raising his kid alone and doing his job at the hospital. He couldn’t just leave me in an empty room at 2 in the morning. The fact that we couldn’t afford a friendly neighborhood didn’t help either. So he bought home Nina. I only saw her picture at first, and she was beautiful. Dad said he looked like my mom, that she could just maybe even be my sister. She was 21 years old, and had thin faded blonde hair, and tan skin. I never could look into her eyes though, but dad said they were hazel.
As the days passed, Nina got smaller and smaller. One night, Dad had gone to buy a scalpel, as his old one wasn’t cutting it anymore. It was just Nina and I, sitting in the ice cold room. I had gotten used to the cold as well. I was fine wearing just a sweatshirt and denim. We got to talking again, as I sat on the floor crouched, drawing circles on my knees.
“I don’t think Dad can afford to pay for my med school, Nina. I wish he could. I wish he really could. But I thought maybe he could teach me. But he’s not the same anymore. He doesn’t smile at me like he used to now. He doesn’t look at me at all. He spends all his time with you.”
I sat still as the circles tickled my skin. I was thinking about getting a job to help dad out, when the phone rang. I went to pick it up, and there was a man with a husky voice on the other end who said Dad had just gotten hit with a car. He told me to tell him where I was, but I hung up.
I got up and turned all the other lights off, except the one over the metal table; over Nina. I could see Nina’s brain neatly placed beside the jar labeled “eyeballs”. I wondered why Dad bothered labeling them when it was pretty clear they were eyes suspended in some weird gel like fluid. You see, Nina was the corpse dad had brought home one night after they kicked him out of the research. He worked extremely hard on her and made sure all of her was preserved. She was a homicide victim probably.
As I picked up the blunt scalpel, I felt this strange pull from my guts. I desperately wished that Nina was alive, and wished she would talk to me for once. I had gotten to so used to her, I never noticed that she didn’t care about me. She didn’t care that my dad had just died and that I needed some sort of love and support. She didn’t care how fucked up I was. No, she didn’t care at all.
I tried to slice through the pinkish gray muscle that lay cold between my fingers. This was as close as I would ever get to become a neurosurgeon, huh?
It hurt. But it also soothed my mind.
I wished Nina would love me back.