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Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz



Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz PDF

Author: Dana Schwartz

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genres:

Publish Date: January 18, 2022

ISBN-10: 1250774152

Pages: 352

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Edinburgh, 1817

HURRY UP!”

“I’m digging as fast as I can, Davey.”
“Well, dig faster.”
The night was nearly moonless, so Davey, standing on the damp grass,

wasn’t able to see Munro roll his eyes down in the grave he was in the process of digging up. It was taking longer than normal—the wooden spade Munro had managed to steal from behind the inn down on Farbanks was smaller than the metal one he’d started off with tonight. But it was also quieter, that was the important thing. Ever since Thornhill Kirkyard had hired a guard to watch over the graves, keeping quiet was essential. Already, three of their friends had been picked up by the guard and were unable to pay their fines. Davey hadn’t seen them on the streets since.
Something was wrong. Davey couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something seemed strange tonight. Maybe it was the air. The grease smoke hovering low in Edinburgh’s Old Town was always dense, heavy with the smell of cooking oil and tobacco and the noxious combination of human waste and filth that had sent the well-to-do into the fine new buildings down the hill and on the other side of Princes Street Gardens. Tonight was windless.
Davey didn’t mention it to Munro, the strange feeling he had. Munro would only have laughed at him. You’re supposed to be a lookout for night men, not strange feelings, Munro would say.

In the distance, Davey could make out a candle burning in the window of the rectory behind the church. The priest was awake. Could he see movement this far into the kirkyard in the darkness? Most likely not, but what if he decided to come out for an evening stroll?
“Can’t you go any faster?” Davey whispered.
In answer came the unmistakable sound of wood hitting wood. Munro had reached the coffin. Both boys held their breath for the next part: Munro lifted the spade high as he could and brought it down hard. Davey winced at the crack of the lid breaking. They waited—for a shout, for dogs barking—but nothing stirred.
“Throw me the rope,” Munro called up. Davey did as he was told, and within a few moments, Munro had expertly tied the rope around the dead body’s neck. “Now pull.”
While Davey tugged the rope, Munro, still in the grave, helped to guide the body out of the small hole in the coffin and back toward the surface world, a strange reverse birth for a body past death. Munro successfully removed the body’s shoes as it left its coffin, but it was up to Davey to strip off the rest of its clothes and throw them back in the grave. Stealing a body was against the law, but if they actually took any property from the grave, that would make it a felony.
The body was a she, just as Jeanette had told them. Jeanette worked as a spy for whichever resurrection man paid her the best that week, sneaking around funerals, standing just close enough to make sure that whoever was being buried hadn’t been given an expensive stone slab atop the coffin to prevent the very crime they were currently committing.
“No mortsafe and no family,” Jeanette had said when she showed up at the door to Munro’s flat in Fleshmarket Close, scratching her neck and grinning up at him from beneath her curtain of copper hair. Jeanette couldn’t be more than fourteen, but she was already missing more than a few teeth. “Or ’tleast not much family, anyways. Coffin looked cheap too. Pine or sum’thing like it.”
“Weren’t pregnant, were she?” Munro had asked hopefully, raising his eyebrows. Doctors were so keen to dissect the bodies of pregnant women that they were willing to pay double. Jeanette shook her head and extended her hand for payment. As soon as darkness fell, Munro and Davey set out with their wheelbarrow and spades and rope.
Davey averted his eyes as he peeled off the body’s flimsy gray dress. Even in the darkness, he could feel himself blushing. He had never undressed a live woman before, but he’d lost count of the number of times he’d taken the clothing off a woman the day after she was put in the ground. He looked down at the stone half-hidden by dirt and darkness: PENELOPE HARKNESS. Thank you for the eight guineas, Penelope Harkness, he thought.
“Throw it here,” Munro said from below. Davey tossed him the dress. As soon as the woman’s clothes were back in her empty coffin, Munro pulled himself out of the hole and onto the wet grass. “A’ight,” he said, clapping the dirt from his hands. “Let’s fill it back in and be done with it now.” Munro didn’t say it, but he felt something strange, too, an odd thinness in the still air that made it harder to catch his breath. The candle in the rectory window had gone out.
“You don’t believe she died of the fever, do you?” Davey whispered. The woman’s skin wasn’t pocked or bloody, but the rumors these days were impossible to ignore. If the Roman fever really was back in Edinburgh …
“Course not,” Munro said with certainty. “Don’t be daft.”
Davey exhaled and smiled weakly in the dark. Munro always knew how to make him feel better, to cast away the fears that crept into his brain like rodents in the walls.
Silently, the boys finished their task. The grave was as well covered with soil and weeds as it had been that morning, and the body, stiff with rigor mortis, was in their wheelbarrow, covered by a gray cloak.
Something was moving at the edge of the cemetery, along the low stone wall that ran the kirkyard’s entire east side. Davey and Munro both saw it, and they whipped their heads around to follow its motion, but as soon as their eyes adjusted in the darkness, it was gone.
“Just a dog,” Munro said more confidently than he felt. “Come on. The doctor likes us out back before dawn.”
Davey pushed the cart, and Munro walked alongside him, gripping the handle of his spade tighter than usual. They had almost made it out of the cemetery when three men in cloaks stepped in their path.

“Hello,” the first man said. He was the tallest of the three, and looked even taller because he wore a stovepipe hat.
“Lovely evening,” said the second, a bald man, shorter than the others. “Perfect for a stroll,” said the third, whose yellow grin was visible behind his mustache even in the darkness.
They weren’t night watchmen, Davey saw. Maybe they were fellow resurrection men.
Munro clearly had the same idea. “Out of our way. She’s ours, get yer own doornail,” he said, stepping in front of Davey and their wheelbarrow. His voice shook only a little.
Davey looked down and saw the gentlemen were all wearing fine leather shoes. No resurrection man wore shoes like that.
The three men laughed together in near unison. “You’re quite right,” said the short man. “And, of course, we wouldn’t dream of calling the night watchmen.” He took a step closer, and Davey saw a length of rope under the sleeve of his cloak.
The next moment was impossibly quick: the three men advanced, and Munro leapt around them and ran at full tilt up the path and toward the city. “Davey!” he shouted, “Davey, run!”
But Davey was frozen, still behind the wheelbarrow, forced to hesitate at that moment by the choice of whether to abandon Penelope Harkness while he watched Munro sprint into a close and disappear. By the time his feet allowed him to follow his friend, it was too late.
“Gotcha,” said the tall man in the hat as he wrapped his meaty hand around Davey’s wrist. “Now, this won’t hurt a bit.” The man took a blade from his pocket.
Davey struggled against his grip, but no matter how he tugged or twisted, he was unable to pull away.
The man with the blade ran it delicately along Davey’s forearm, revealing a trail of crimson blood that looked almost black in the darkness.
Davey was too frightened to scream. He watched in silence, with unblinking panicked eyes, as the bald man pulled out a vial filled with something purple and viscous. The man uncorked the vial and extended his arm.

The man with the hat shook his knife over the vial until a single drop of Davey’s blood fell into liquid within. The liquid became dark and then changed color to a brilliant, glowing golden yellow. It illuminated the faces of the three men, who were all smiling now.

“Lovely,” the one with the mustache said.

THE NEXT DAY, WHILE OUT ON his morning constitutional, the priest found an abandoned wheelbarrow containing the stiff body of a woman he had buried the day before. He shook his head. Resurrection men in this city were becoming bolder—and more dangerous. What was Edinburgh coming to?


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