26 November 2009

From Mr. Bridge, by Evan Connell


That night he was sleeping when he realized his heart had stopped. Instantly he opened his eyes, and just then it resumed beating. He laid both hands on his chest, licked his lips and waited for what would happen next. But his heart pumped along, and after a while he dropped his hands on the blanket and shut his eyes and tried to sleep, but sleep would not come.

He could not stop thinking about his heart. He did not think there was anything seriously wrong, yet these seizures were occurring more and more often. He resented the fact that his heart was not in perfect order; and because he was unable to sleep or to forget about it he got out of bed and sat down in a chair beside the window where he plucked at his wrinked pajamas and meditatively observed the dark street.

Leaves were dropping from the maple trees, fluttering like butterflies in the night wind. He watched them and it occurred to him that they were trying to tell him something. As a leaf flattened itself against the window beside his head and leaped away into the darkness, a feeling of profound despair came over him because everything he had done was useless. All that he believed in and had attempted to prove seemed meager, all of his life was wasted.

(photo credit: unknown -- did a tineye search and didn't find the source -- if you know, please note it in the comments.)

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