Bumps wait where black pavement ends, rattling the bicycle, beginning shadowed, tan gravel-with holes to dodge- pale stones squirted and piled in pinched rows on the road’s edges by occasional passing cars’ tires.
No neighbors for the next mile, the dirty road is inviting – a doorway of sorts; the first edges of home. Moonlight leaks, pouring through the leaves on tree branches that hang and hug, folding the woods over in a canopy, disguising the way on the summer ride home.
At the crest of the last hill, farm smell stings, as the bike chatters roughly down the steep incline into the yard; a dog’s warning woof in the dark, even though it knows it’s me.
“Mr. Tatten?” Are you awake?
“I’m sorry to disturb you, but we need to take some blood.
“Are you in any pain?”
“No… A little.”
“How would you describe it – ten being the worst?”
“I donno, six.”
“Would you like something?”
“No..I’ll let you know.”
“So, could you wiggle your fingers for me? OK, good. No slurring, I see.”
“I actually feel pretty good. Aside for this headache.”
“You have a blood clot – in your brain.That’s the headache.We’re lucky we caught it.”
“Can I go home now?”
“Well, no. We really need to keep a close watch on you to get your blood thinned. You may need surgery. Another option is to see if begins to dissolve on its own. Once you’re stabilized, we can decide.”
“Let’s skip the surgery.”
Just had a visitor – Mortality.
Now there’s the sudden ache of an unfinished book and questions, like why are things I most like to do those I do the least? Like reading and golf.
When I get outa here, that’s gonna to change.
Going to walk up Kilburn Road in the dark, just because I can, listening to the woods – smelling almost too cold December air slicing my face and crowding over and inside my jacket collar.
Feeling more alive. Human.
But temporary with miles to go in my own forest deep.
With no time for laters.
Fumbling for the trail of a significant life.