Thirteen out-stretched arms greet me. The bodies on which we have
worked for the last two weeks are all covered under white sheets
except for the neck, the shoulder, and the arm...
Professor Weber explains how [the test] is going to work. We will
get a minute and a half to view whatever needs to be identified,
and then move on to the rest area, next to the body, to write our
A bell rings and it starts. Fifty-two living circle around the
thirteen dead. We bend down over the little tag, trace the thin
black string that emanates from it, stare for a minute and a half
at the body part tied to the string, and then move on. Nerves on
edge try to recall the names of nerves that have stopped stressing
about the trite and the mundane long ago. Most of us have completely
blocked out the body attached to the part in question.
In this macabre game of musical chairs, with music replaced by
timed silence punctuated by a ringing bell, I make my way to my
cadaver. Even though I can only see a part of his forearm, I have
no trouble discerning that he is mine.