While discussing the results of my physical, my doctor flutters her lips and looks at me. “Maggie,” she says. “Do you want to keep talking in my office?” she said.
In her office she takes off her glasses, sighs, and launches into a tightly-wound spiel about my chances. My chances of surviving. I take the subway then to work. The ride seems fast and far away.
Somewhere between Atlantic-Pacific and 7 Av, I make the decision to not tell anybody, at least for now. I excuse myself from driving duties for an upcoming trip upstate with friends. It seems obscene that I would crash a car with four of my closest friends in tow, but, no, in fact it becomes a recurring dream. In the dream my hands become pale and then even paler. As I hurry my way to an exit ramp they are translucent. As I slide off the road my hands finally become all-the-way invisble and I gasp and the car veers and there’s a yell from the backseat and I wake up. Soon I make the decision to not tell anybody, ever. I stop responding to my doctor’s emails.
I start staring at elevator panels. Not two look alike. Going on long walks around the ugly parks near my apartment. I pick up smoking, again, (it’s not lung cancer) and then put it back down, again. I move my money out of brokerages and into banks. I fill out all the whom-should-my-money-go-to-after-I-die forms with great relish. Most of it should go to my daughter and my namesake Maggie, who is still figuring who she wants to be and was a better daughter than I ever was. I make a go-bag with my favorite books and some loose hundreds; I shove it it under the bed. The bag keeps me up at night but no more than the thoughts.
I will collapse into a soft heap during dinner.
“Take the bag,” I mumble. Maggie has no idea what I mean.
A blood vessel above my left eyebrow has burst, leaking blood into and out of my face. My daughter is frightened out of her wits. It is cruel to make a child watch their parent dissolve. That’s one of my last great and coherent thoughts. I had so many more things to say. So many more movies to watch. I had either more advice to give to Maggie or no advice at all left. It was an imperfect death. Men barge into my apartment without taking off their shoes and cart me away.
My corpse leaves behind a fully-owned apartment on the Upper East Side, a quarter million dollars (which was a lot when I was growing up!), and one unstubbed cigarette lying right by where I fell, creating permanent damage for a rug nobody ever uses again. People remember me, then forget me, then remember me again. The Earth continues to slice its way through the galaxy, round and round and round, for a hundred and eighty one more years and then the following events will take place.