I wake up choking on a mouthful of blood.  Reflex rolls me onto my side and into a coughing jag, and frothy red drool splatters the sheets and carpet on the floor beside the bed.  I recognize the spew but not the décor, and I wonder for a moment exactly where I am.  I can’t seem to catch my breath, but that, at least, is familiar.  I haven’t drawn a satisfying breath in the eight months since the doctor told me I’d only live another six.

“Oh my god, are you okay?”

I swivel my head toward the question.  A young woman stands in the doorway wearing only my dress shirt, a Bettie Page cut, and a look of equal parts alarm and concern.  She’s familiar too, and strikingly lovely, but her name eludes me.

I want to tell her yes, but I can’t find the air so I try nodding.  I nearly succeed, but the motion winds up a long, slow slide to the floor.  The woman rushes across the room and kneels, taking my head into her lap as tears slip down her cheeks.  I close my eyes for the last time, wishing I could remember her name.


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