Off the Shelf
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I am worried.  I am worried because of what Lungs told me.  I have been friends with Lungs a long time and he would not lie to me.

“Big Brain is trying to kill us.”

This is what Lungs said.  I do not want to believe it, but Big Brain is smart and bad.  There was one time Big Brain made Man jump out of an airplane.  I do not know what that means, but Big Brain did not stop talking about it for a long time.  Big Brain said it would be fun, and any time Big Brain does not stop talking about fun, it means trouble.

When it happened, when Man jumped out of the airplane, it felt like all of the blood was flying into the sky and I had to pump very hard to stop that from happening.  And I could hear Big Brain the entire time.  He was laughing and he said things like “Woo” and “Yeah, boy.”  He sounded crazy.  We were all very lucky that we did not die that day.

My name is Dave.  When I was small, everyone called me “Heart,” but I like “Dave.”  Dave sounded better.  I am not good at talking and Dave was easy to say.  Dave is a nice guy.  Dave is not smart like Big Brain, but Dave is a hard worker.  I am Dave.  I pump blood through Man.  I like my job, but sometimes it is hard.  Let me give you an example.  I have many valves.  I do not know how many I have because I cannot count that high.  All of my valves need to work in order, but because I am not so smart, sometimes I mess up and I have to start over.  When I skip a beat, Big Brain laughs at me and I feel bad.  I do not like it when he makes fun of me, but counting is very difficult.

I grew up with many friends. Lungs is my best friend.  He is nice and fluffy and it tickles when he blows up.  It makes me laugh and I beat faster because I am happy.  Liver is friendly, but Lungs says he parties too much.  Sometimes he is good, like when I was little and Big Brain made Boy eat paint chips.  Lungs told me Liver saved us.  I do not know what paint chips are, but Big Brain talked about them for a long time and that meant trouble.  I do not like talking to Intestines because he makes funny noises, but I felt bad when Appendix left.  I wanted to send Intestines a get-well card, but I do not have hands.  I also do not know what a get-well card is, but Eyes said it was a nice thing. Kidneys is a cool guy.  He works hard and we have good conversations.  There was one time we talked about blood.  Another time, we also talked about blood.  Those were good conversations.

And then there is Spleen.  Spleen is my favorite.  She is cute and has nice lumps and curves.  I have never talked to Spleen, but that is because I work so hard and talking to intraperitoneal organs makes me nervous.  When I think about Spleen, I feel funny and my valves move fast.

But now, I worry about Big Brain.  I do not know why he calls himself Big Brain.  I do not know if there is a Small Brain, but I do not know a lot of things, because I am not so smart.  I just know that Big Brain is smart and bad.

“Big Brain made Man get a machine.”

That was the other thing Lungs said.  I do not know what this machine does, but Big Brain talks about it all the time and he says it is fun and that means trouble.  I think that Big Brain’s machine is going to kill us all.

But Eyes said it was amazing.  Ears said it was like a “roll of thunder, brah.”  I do not know what that means.  All I know is that Big Brain makes fun of me because I am afraid of the machine.  Sometimes, I am working hard and I can hear him say, “Man is getting on the motorcycle.”  And he says it in a mean way, because he knows I do not like the machine.  Even though Eyes likes it because it is fast and Ears likes it because it is loud, it makes me afraid.

I can feel the machine go fast and it pulls on my arteries and it makes my blood go in crazy directions.  I get nervous and beat faster.  And when I beat fast, I lose count very easily.  I beat fast and I miss beats and I am so worried that Big Brain will make fun of me.  I beat so fast I can hardly stop.  But one time, when my blood was going in crazy directions, something great happened.  I heard a whisper.

“It’s okay, Dave.”

It was Spleen.  And I thought she had a very nice voice.  I thought it must be what angels sound like.  The ones that Mouth always sings about when things get cold and dark.  Spleen’s voice sounded like singing angel.  I was very nervous and working hard, but I did not want to be rude.

“Thank you,” I said.

That was the first thing I ever said to Spleen.  We have had many good conversations since then.  One time, we had a conversation about blood.  Another time, we also talked about blood.  Those were good conversations.  I do not always remember what we talk about because I am not so smart, but I just like hearing the sound of her angel voice.  I wish I knew more words, but Spleen has made my life very, very, very good.

Yesterday, Spleen taught me how to count better.  Before I was okay with one and sometimes two, but three was very hard.  Spleen told me how to keep the numbers in order and even taught me a new number: the number four.  I did not know this number existed, but it has made my life very good.  Because that is how many valves I have!  I can count to four and I do not miss so many beats now, all because Spleen is so good to me.  I wish I did not wait so long to talk to Spleen.  I think I could talk to Spleen forever.  I hope we get to talk forever.

But then I hear Big Brain say, “Man is getting on the motorcycle” and I am afraid.

I feel the machine pulling on my arteries and the blood is starting to go in crazy directions and then it happens. The worst thing. I think we are all going to die.

I could hear Ears yelling and the Eyes yelling wide open and everyone was yelling but Big Brain. Big Brain was silent.  I think it is the end. I felt Man fly and fall.  He rolled and I rolled and we were all hurt.  I do not know what to do.  I do not know what to do except to keep counting to four and to keep pumping.  Lungs is still there, but I can only feel one side blow up.  He speaks to me in a voice that does not sound like Lungs at all.  He tells me to keep pumping.  He says I am the only one that can save everyone.

I do not know how that is true.  I am just Dave.

I call out to Spleen, but she does not say anything and the silence makes me very afraid.  More afraid than jumping out of an airplane or the machine or even Big Brain.  I am afraid I will never speak to Spleen again.  I only want to hear her whisper to me.  To tell me it will be okay.  Tell me we will talk forever and have many more good conversations about blood.  All I want is to hear her angel voice.  So I keep pumping very hard and wait for a whisper that never comes.

I wish I knew more words, because I am very, very, very sad.

Around me, everything is now cold and dark, but I do not hear any singing.  And then, I fall asleep.

When they wake me up, I am inside Other Man.  He is old and I do not want to be here with his old organs, but I cannot go home.  I would not want to go back home anyway, not without my friends.  Sometimes when I am sleeping, Other Man coughs, and Other Lungs tickles me like Lungs used to.  I miss Lungs a lot.  I knew Lungs for many years.  He was my best friend.

Other Man does not have an Other Spleen.  I think a lot about what it would be like if Spleen were here with me and I think that would be very nice.  I think about how many numbers there are and how many I will never know because she will never teach them to me.  Sometimes I pretend she is whispering to me.  I do not know what she would say to me because I am not so smart.  I just liked the sound of her whisper.  Sometimes I can forget about everything that happened because I am working hard for Old Man.

But then I think about Spleen and it makes me feel funny and my valves move fast and I almost forget how to count to four.

Daniel Coleman Daniel Coleman (5 Posts)

Medical Student Editor

Georgetown University School of Medicine

Daniel graduated from Tufts University in 2004. His subsequent pursuits included everything from cell cycle research to manufacturing shampoo. Medically, his interests lie in emergency and wilderness medicine, infectious disease, and health care sustainability. Daniel is medical student at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, Class of 2017.