Chelsea is ready for the probe
. It is lubricated and she, breathless. The stainless steel tip is slightly bulbous, like a honey dripper
and indeed it glistens with promises of something sweet
. The experiments have no names and no purposes, but they don't really hurt her. She rolls whichever direction on the icy examination table
and her cotton gown is pushed aside by cool, uncaring hands.
In the present, she is lying on her belly, hipbones and elbows uncomfortable against the table. The doctor
unties the three ribbons down her back, unwrapping naked skin which glows white under harsh lighting. He presses sticky electrode
s onto her body. She shivers when his finger slips from the fabric and brushes her skin. The probe slides in
Now she is visible, now she is real. All her organs made of glass and in his hands
. He manipulates the parts of her body, changing bouncing monitors, but the heart monitor
plays the same tape every time. The echo of her pulse shooting up and down, frustration catalysed by mild terror into ecstatic delirium, her lips fighting sound
When he finishes, he leaves her bare beneath the hot lights, limp and sweaty. He exits soundlessly and retires to his office
while she dresses. Slowly she comes to and realizes nothing's happened.
Though she is not injured, she feels tender putting on her street clothes. She is very careful with herself, and shaky as she makes her way into the laboratory
's anteroom. There is a window from his study onto the examination table, but he always faces away from it, as though the flesh he'd just disturbed
without the veil of science
thrown over it were repellent. In the office, he pays her generously and asks when next she's free. They make another date, Chelsea all the time ready to fall to her knees
, rend her dress, anything he asked if he only would.
He calls his butler, who drives her away from the castle
in the horse-drawn carriage. Back in the town, mothers lock their windows and burn medical journals
so their infant daughters won't end up like Chelsea.