I know how I am going to die. Like rock salt from a shotgun, the information hits me not all at once, but in stinging little pockets, searing into me the final piece of my future. The bits and pieces come together to form a nightmare I wish I could forget. Every day, sometimes many times, always inconvenient, I relive that which has yet to come. But there it is, like an old friend, reminding me.
The sinus numbing impact on the right side of my cranium comes first. Cracking, the bone conforms to something more resilient, more commanding of the need for space. As my skull gives way to a mass of pitted metal, bits of soil and rust fill my nostrils, pepper my eyes. On a hard exhale, involuntary to make room for fresh oxygen, ride human noise – primal, unmistakable. A desperate inhale stops short as my throat fills with cerebrospinal fluid. I choke on it. It’s acidic and thick. It doesn’t hurt. All I know is I can’t breathe and my head feels funny.
Life is floating, rotating, like a planet circling a star. One trip around is all we get. When the ride is over, after we made the revolution, we are supposed to get off and let the next paying customer have a go. But what happens when we stay on past our turn? The ride keeps going, making extra runs, taking us to places we’ve been – or places we should have gone but didn’t. Showing us the ghosts of things forgotten or the edges of a close call. The girl, the job, the path not taken, the death designed just special but snubbed, by chance.
Are these memories of things that could not possibly have happened? The person I know, I know, but can’t place. The feeling of predicting with accuracy, what is happening, play-by-play, milliseconds in advance. That stab in the gut telling me to turn around but for what unknown. The “I got a bad feeling about this” feeling.
The older I get the more I feel like I’m not supposed to be here. It’s like I’ve taken somebody else’s place, walking in somebody else’s shoes, doing a job I am unqualified to entertain.
I should have died as a baby, with a failed heart. But, with 1972 technology, my pulmonary valve was stretched open (after two tries) and deemed “repaired.” After a slit wrist while horsing around in high school, an unsuccessful mugging in college, a heart valve replacement ten years ago, and I’m sure too may close calls while intoxicated, I’ve had plenty of chances to just die, already.
I am living, wandering through life – trying to make it through another day without looking for a reason. Because the reason is lost on me. Yet here I am waiting for my skull to be crushed.