When they cut the body open, slicing from neck to navel with expert precision, they found a house.
It was tucked neatly away by the turns and folds of the small intestine; the digestive tract might as well have been a suburb or a glistening countryside.
Being doctors, they needed a reason, a cause. They spent several hours extracting the house from its foundation of tissue and muscle. They carefully pulled the tiny gutters away from the pancreas and eventually removed the entire structure from the side streets and cul-de-sacs of the man’s innards.
They sat the house on an examination table and stared at it in awe. As they moved it, they heard the tiny clattering of plumbing within the thin walls. The house was slightly larger than a paperback book. There were microscopic shingles on the roof. Rain gutters traced its edges.
There were porch steps, wet vinyl siding (slightly smeared with blood) and a tiny doorbell.
Several windows ran along the length of the house, including a large picture window that looked in onto a den. The den was connected to a white kitchen, separated only by a countertop. A miniscule bowl of fruit sat on the counter along with a newspaper and a small sparkling thing that may have been a set of keys.
One of the doctors stepped forward. He removed the latex gloves from his hand and touched the roof.
“Real shingle,” he said.
With a pair of tongs, he opened the tiny door. He then reached inside with the instrument and grabbed the newspaper from the countertop. He held it up to the lights and read the headlines. The paper rustled like the buzzing of a dying fly’s wings.
“This is yesterday’s paper,” he announced.
He set the paper down as his team watched, fascinated. He then wiped the smears of blood from its vinyl siding with a sponge, not because he wanted to but because it seemed like the only thing to do.
It was then that they saw a small man walk out of one of the tiny bedrooms and into the kitchen. He looked around the living room as if the house seemed brighter than usual. There was a tired frustrated look on his tiny face. The expression was somehow far more menacing than normal on his infinitesimal features.
The men in the operating room looked at the man’s face and saw themselves.
The tiny man turned to grab his keys from the counter when a woman came out of the bedroom as well. Her small face looked like a dull pearl. She was sleepy and her hair was askew, like wafting pollen atop her head.
When they saw her, each woman in the operating room felt as if they were looking into a mirror.
The little woman opened her mouth and said something that no one in the operating room could hear. Her voice was as tiny as the frame that expelled it.
The man responded to whatever she said and it was obvious that he was angry.
They had no clue that they were being spied upon by giants with scalpels, credit cards, skin conditions and larger houses. So they went on arguing.
Frustrated, the little man grabbed his keys, walked to the front door and left the house. When he closed the door behind him, he stepped onto the porch and walked slowly down the porch steps. When he reached the yard that was no longer there, he simply disappeared.
Inside, the woman voiced a soundless scream. She looked sad, forlorn, as if she didn’t belong there. She glanced around the empty house and retreated back to the bedroom. With another soundless cry, she slammed the door behind her.
The doctors had not heard their tiny voices, but the clamor of the doors had reached them. Two thumps in the midst of silence.
It was the beating of a heart and, with two final thuds, they had heard it die.
With glances that were both sick and saddened, the doctors turned back to the cadaver. Its torso remained pulled open, yawning as if it were bored now that its treasures had been revealed.
They all wondered collectively what resided within their own bodies.
Perhaps, despite their degrees and advanced surgical procedures, life was nothing more than the slamming of doors, the beating of hearts. And in the dusty corners of it all, they stood as small broken people, screaming voiceless words into a place that no longer cared to listen.