Anesthesia

Don’t let him drive. That was the last thing Kate had said to me when the two of us left the house, heading out to the local bar to knock back pint after pint and watch the Avalanches take on the Blackhawks.

But of course I had let him drive. When we’d stumbled out of the red light of neon signs advertising beer brands and into the sodium yellow of the parking lot, I knew Frank had had too much. I knew he was in no condition to drive. But I was drunk too, and the thought of waiting for a cab, of arguing with Frank long enough for him to give me the keys just seemed so difficult, so tiring, while heavily sliding into the passenger’s seat, as I found myself doing, just seemed so easy. So natural.

That was three months ago. Frank is gone now. Kate knows everything. Kate knows what I did. Or rather, what I didn’t do. I couldn’t make it to the funeral, but I wonder how much the tears she must’ve cried were of sadness and not rage. Anger at the senselessness of it all. Anger that the man she loved was gone. Anger at me, for breaking my promise. My only promise. My simple, simple promise I just couldn’t have been bothered to keep in my state.

The last surgery is today. After this it’s just one more month and I’m free to go, good as new.

“There’s a new anesthesiologist in the OR today,” the surgeon says as I stare up at white fluorescent tubes. I feel the mask come down on my face.

“Just count backwards from 100,” I hear a familiar voice say.

The doctor does not see my terrified eyes. I try to struggle, to call out, but already I am immobilized.

“Goodbye Michael,” Kate says, looking down at me.

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