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In her early 80s, Abigail Thomas senses the approach of someone—or something inevitable.
Someone is coming. It began as a physical feeling: expectation. My body senses things before I do, but I catch on pretty quickly. Usually it’s ordinary stuff like when I’m on my way to the car and suddenly realize I’m forgetting something. That’s a specific body sensation, and my body is never wrong. So cool, that connection we have. So cool what it knows before I do.
But this time it’s different. This is mysterious. Someone is coming and I don’t know who, I don’t know why, and I don’t know when. On top of which lately I hear things moving around upstairs, heavy footsteps, and once in a while the sound of something being shoved across the floor gives me a little scratch of fear. I live with my dogs, nobody but us here. Mostly I accept what I can’t explain, and passing the stairs in the morning I feel the urge to yell “Rise and shine,” to the empty bedrooms on the second floor. Sometimes my dog Dave stares into a corner of the living room and begins to growl at nothing I can see. I thought only cats saw the invisible but apparently Dave has this ability too. I look hard and see nothing every time. Whatever it is moves around, because Dave has growled everywhere including the kitchen, staring at the empty counter. Maybe I’ve got my body’s message wrong. Maybe it isn’t someone is coming. Maybe it’s someone is already here. Spooky.
Yesterday I heard four soft knocks on the side door, once in the morning and once around suppertime. There was nobody there at all, nobody I could see anyway. When I heard the second bunch of soft knocks I held the door open and said, “Come in,” just for fun. I did wonder idly, as opposed to seriously, whether I had just invited a vampire into my house. They can only enter if invited. Next thing was it got to be late at night and I was dozing on the sofa when the wind picked up and something slammed somewhere and the lights flickered and I noticed I wasn’t afraid, not even of a vampire. When I was young this might have scared the shit out of me, but at 81 I’m pretty blasé.
It seems a waste to die in my sleep and for me and my body to miss the very last thing we do together.
It occurs to me now that perhaps the visitor is Death. I have a rotten hip that makes walking a pain, and am reluctant to fix it as I loathe physical therapy; it’s the most boring activity in life except for quitting smoking. On the occasions when I do walk, I walk with a cane. I have three of them. So I am old and sedentary, and I have various things wrong with me because I smoked for so many years and I like butter. I am starting to wonder about Death. Will it knock or burst in? Will it stick around for weeks or zap me in an instant? Will it want a snack? Haha. On this subject my body can offer no help.
I want to be awake when Death arrives, but I’m apt to think twice on other matters such as this. Although there are no other matters such as this. It seems a waste to die in my sleep and for me and my body to miss the very last thing we do together. I hope it isn’t planning to use that scythe.
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