Hedgehog Signaling
Elizabeth Welsh

You lay in the hospital bed with one arm above the pink sheet like an Egon Schiele sketch. Those gaunt lines he sharpened into his paper beings shone back at me.

‘Hedgehog signaling can cure cancer’, I whispered, to which you blinked. ‘It’s the interpretation of Hh gradients. It was in the Guardian, so it must be true’, I explained, picturing ambling hedgehogs with aprons and frilly caps.

You leaned sideways to grasp the glass of water at your elbow. Your body tilted, bobbed, you remained balanced on a precipice and then slumped, spilling the water over the bedclothes.

I suddenly remembered those hedgehogs in our backyard on Midsummer’s Eve – ridden with mange and ticks; they swayed, tumbled, down the blinding grassy bank. I wanted to bathe them in almond oil, perform solestitia. You refused.

Free from balancing, they were still.

Elizabeth Welsh comes from New Zealand and is an editor who writes poetry, flash fiction and short stories for various online and print mags on the side and wishes she had more time to write letters and use wax seals. She blogs here.