“My chest!” I cried through the pain. “Oh God, it’s like something’s crushing my chest!”

A small white-haired man entered the room, clad in a tweed jacket and tortoise-shell spectacles. He hovered over the bed and peered down at me disapprovingly.

“Please! Help me! Oh god, I think I’m dying!” I reached out my hand out toward him, but could barely do so – the pain was spreading into my arm and numbing it. My chest felt like it was being crushed by a thousand tons.

“Yes, that you would,” the cross man said, sitting next to me on the bed. “But did you ever stop and really think? At all? Ever, in your life?” He made no effort to hide his disgust.


“Did you ever think about what it all meant, Sean?” How did he know my name? “Did it ever” – he stood again, his voice raised now, anger coloring his words – “occur to you whether every magazine you read, every beer you drank, every material possession you so carefully amassed, every minute of television you watched,” – louder and angrier, he paced furiously now – “every photo you took, every goddamn click and text and phone call and email and word you spoke ever really meant anything? Or did you just spend your whole life pushing everyone away while you focused on the things that didn’t matter?”

“Help me!” I cried again. “Whoever you are, please help me!”

“I can’t help you,” he said. “Your time is up. But I’ll be seeing you soon.”

He walked to the door and slowly closed it behind him, and the hinges squealed in protest.

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