As the anesthetic begins to take effect, I notice that the doctor who will perform the operation is me.
“Are you frightened?” I ask.
I nod in response.
“You should have more confidence in your surgical skills,” I say.
I try to cry out, but my body is numbing fast. In an attempt to escape I raise my head, but it is no use. I sink back to the pillow and look dazedly at the ceiling.
When I awake, I wave a hand before my face and think my white skin has been replaced with black. But I look closely and realize that my skin is gone. A cluster of stars appears in my palm: the Crab Nebula. A ringed planet, Saturn, turns upon its axis in the region of my elbow. I lift the bed sheet from my chest and look beneath it at the cosmos, the suns and galaxies of suns that burn inside me.
“You never dreamed it could be so beautiful,” someone says. It is me, standing at my bedside, a surgical mask pulled down below my chin.