Thank You for Your Donation: Day Ten

“Socks,” Kelsey said, for the hundredth time.

“Kelsey we get it, you like socks or some shit,” I groaned. “Will you please tell us the donors last name?”

We’d gone back and forth like this for hours since she woke up. Even with the food the man gave her yesterday Kelsey hadn’t seemed to improve much. Every ten minutes she would say socks and I’d try to understand what she meant. Barry still coughed every so often, but it didn’t sound as bad as yesterday. I don’t even know if it was yesterday. I do know that I fell asleep and woke up, so that’s good enough for me. That’s good enough to count as a day in my mind. A strange noise came from somewhere in the center, as if someone tapped on a fishbowl. The voice came again and I understood.

“Barry?” A woman’s voice yelled through the window.

I didn’t recognize the voice through the glass. Pounding again, and another call. I forced my head to the right to look at Barry. A sharp pain shot through my right arm as I twisted. The pain didn’t matter at the moment. While the man had given us enough food too recover and think for the previous night, I already felt drained again. Barry’s pale face looked sunken and like he’d lost more weight than me. His eyes were still closed.

“Barry, wake up,” I yelled as loud as I could, which came out as a whisper. “I think someone’s here for you.”

Then the man’s muffled voice made me lose all hope.

“Ma’am,” the man said, “this is a contaminated zone. We are still working to clean it of all possible traces of COVID-19. The health department is asking everyone to stay clear until they deem it safe for public use again.”

“But my boy,” Barry’s mom cried, “I can’t find him.”

“We’re in here!” I yelled, or tried.

Once again my voice sounded like a whisper under sheets. The air conditioning rumbled to life and cut out any further conversation that might be heard. So they are looking for us. But I don’t know if anyone is looking for me. When I moved to go out to college in Utah I left behind all of my family on the east coast. Let’s just say that I moved far away for a reason. That whole saying that blood doesn’t make you family is a little more than a quote for me. I needed to get away and now I am paying for separating myself from my family. My parents are used to me not calling for weeks at a time, or replying to their text messages. I have no girlfriend to speak of, and all the girls on the dating apps, of which there are two, will think I ghosted them, so yeah. I guess Barry is lucky enough his mom came looking in the right spot. 

The shoes clacked and my heart rate picked up. I felt a little more awake with each step the man took. The man stretched and pulled off his gloves in a slow dramatic fashion. I heard the bio-bin lid lift and drop close. A squirt of the hand sanitizer, and then the rough sound of gloves being pulled from a box. 

“Barry it seems your mother was quite worried about you,” the man said. “If only you could have yelled for help, then I could justify killing her too.”

“What?” Barry asked in a whisper. “Why are you talking so loud?”

I don’t know why Barry is showing signs of a hangover, but the man wasn’t anywhere near loud. I was surprised we could hear him over the air conditioning. I let out a sigh of relief from hearing that the man hadn’t killed Barry’s mom. But I don’t know if that means he will take Barry instead today.

“Barry, I’m worried that you might actually have the Rona, as you kids like to say,” The man said. “But I don’t have a way to test you. I can give you some medicine to ease the pain, but that’s it.”

A rattle of a pill bottle drew my attention. I saw the white pills drop into the man’s hands. Ibuprofen, knock off brand, most likely. I opened my mouth to tell him that it was supposed to make it worse, but the man probably already knew that. Barry took the ibuprofen without question and chewed on the pills. All that really mattered was the last possible donors name. Once I learned that last detail I could work through who came in when.

“The last donor?” I rasped out.

“Ah it seems that you’re still with us Benjamin,” The man said. “I was worried that you’d given up already. Kelsey wake up!”

“Huh?” Kelsey said and then grumbled. “What?”

“Time to give them the last name,” the man said, “and you better not say something stupid like socks again.”

So the socks have nothing to do with this? But Kelsey wouldn’t say something like that if it was supposed to help us. While I internally debated whether the socks meant anything to the man’s identity. I craned my neck to try and see the man’s socks, but his scrub pants touched the floor. At least he wears the proper work uniform. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. 

“Is it funny that your coworkers are both struggling?” The man asked. “You’re the reason they are all here.”

Not this again. I’d apparently done the wrong thing and still didn’t know what it was. If I switched the bottle by accident it wasn’t my fault it was whoever did control desk—oh now that makes more sense. I must have missed his bottle, but quality hadn’t talked to me about the issue yet, and they would have for something as big as that. 

“Now, Kelsey,” the man said, “please tell them the final donors last name.”

The pain streaked in my arm again and I finally looked to see a yellow hue underneath my skin that followed my vein. I remember someone, somewhere, telling me about this, the venipuncture site was dirty and it infected my vein. The man hadn’t taken out the needle from last nights saline dose. 

“Socks,” Kelsey said.

“Do you want your coworkers to die?” The man said, and started to set up her machine.

At this point, I think she’s fully delusional. The man stuck Kelsey with a fresh needle. Will he ever take this nasty one out of my arm? Kelsey’s head turned back and forth as if it moved through water. The machine started to spin and pull blood from Kelseys fragile body. How long had it been since the last time he bled her out? I couldn’t remember.

“Then tell them the donor’s last name!” The man yelled. 

Plasma started to leave the bowl and enter the plasma collection bottle. That’s when I saw the line wasn’t in the plasma line sensor. A moment later blood entered the plasma bottle. Useless plasma now. The man stopped the machine. 

“Tell them the last name!” The man yelled.

Each time the man sounded more desperate. When Kelsey didn’t respond, he pulled another machine over, already set up, and hooked Kelsey up to that one. I’m surprised that she’s still alive. After the first red blood cell loss I thought she wouldn’t recover. Now, well now she had two close together, and this was where it started to get dangerous. The new machine started to pull blood out of Kelsey once more. 

“The name!” The man screamed.

I’m sure if the man had given us actual water she’d be sweating right now. I can see her face glowing bright red in the dim light. Kelsey’s eyes closed and I thought I saw a twitch of a smile. I watched the arm with the needle involuntarily bend as her eyes closed. I couldn’t shriek in horror, or beg the man to stop the machine, because I see now what Kelsey accepted. The last name wasn’t enough for us to find out who it was, but the man’s socks had something to do with the ex-donors identity.

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