Friday Night Story

Purgatory of Dreams

“911 operator, how may I help you?” I imagine I can feel the potassium chloride sliding through my veins, slithering up my arm and under my skin like a snake. “I’ll need an ambulance; my heart is about to stop.”

I open my IV drip as I tell her the location of my hotel room, less than a block from the hospital. An insulin solution starts into my system to drive the potassium into my cells and halt further damage to the heart, with dextrose to prevent hypoglycemia. My body is cool from the ice bath, to prevent brain and organ damage; but I no longer feel the cold. My chest suddenly feels like a caged hummingbird, beating itself senseless against my ribs, as the chill overtakes my senses like the procession of a glacial shadow.

I dream. It seems fitting. One last romance, a final broken heart before my heart dies. Awake I’d stopped loving her, stopped thinking of her, and when I slept I remembered she was gone- but she didn’t. She visits, and laughs with me. She kisses me and sits across my lap, and rubs against me. And I plead with her to stop, because even in sleep I know it isn’t true. And it’s cruel of her to come here, to pretend with me. To fan a hope not salvageable by daylight.

And this time is different. Perhaps she knows this is the end, and finally understands this thing she made me do, because she stops. “I’m sorry,” she whispers; “I thought you wanted this.”

“I do…” I say, and stop; “but not like this. The way we were was wonderful, but I can’t go back. And you’ve kept me stuck there, permanently looping fragments and fantasies of a love affair that’s gone. And this… visitation only reminds me when I wake how truly alone I am.” She was silent for a moment. “You didn’t have to leave town,” she whispers. “It wasn’t only because of you; you just weren’t a reason to stay anymore.” She stammers, holding back tears, “I- I’ll miss you.” “Me too,” I say, and hold her until the dream fades away.

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