Four Minutes

Jul 20  |  Kyle D. Schreffler

The blank look on Sarah’s face was damning. Flooded with so many emotions, it was impossible to feel a single one.

“Can you describe the moment for me,” Dr. Anaspel asked.

“Which moment,” asked Sarah.

Dr. Anaspel sat in a cliché leather chair, legs crossed, his forefinger and thumb letting a pen rest between his teeth. No tie, his hair messy, his glasses fashionable.

“The moment you realized she was gone,” he said.

Sarah sat in a more modern chair, wearing a hastily tossed on sweater and a ratty pair of jeans. She wouldn’t look at the doctor.

“Ever wake up a few minutes before your alarm goes off? Not 30 minutes or an hour. That’s feasible. I can close my eyes with some satisfaction. I woke up about three weeks after, on some random, unimportant weekday, at 6:56. For most people I think that completely ruins your day. Unless you’re one of those fucking losers that wakes up happy and ready to go. I never understood that,” she said.

Sarah slouched a little more in her chair. She rolled one sleeve of her sweater down past the wrist and started to fidget with a loose thread.

“Any other time, it would’ve been four minutes that I was moody in addition to my general moodiness – it’s charming, believe me. But this day, those four minutes were torture. I had four minutes to kill. I wasn’t going to start my day four minutes earlier, I was going to use those four minutes to do the one thing I absolutely should never do: think,” she said.

Sarah sat upright, rolled up both of her sleeves and leaned forward, elbows resting on her knees, and focused on the oriental floor rug.

“What did you think about,” he asked.

“I thought about her. I thought about where she is, and frankly came to the conclusion she’s nowhere at all. Then I thought about me, and the day that I’ll be nowhere at all. Like before I was born. Yadda, yadda, existential dread, you get the picture,” she said.

“Please, indulge me,” he said.

Sarah looked up at him, finally, the blankness persisting.

“Four minutes. The longest four minutes. We all have our four minutes, I think. The curse of being human, right? Awareness, mortality, the knowledge of our own demise. The ability to learn and acknowledge the demise of everything else. It’s a vortex – a black hole, and it sucks you in, but doesn’t spit you out anywhere else. Glands sweating, heart racing, and suddenly I’m spinning, faster and faster, but I’m still. I’m a fucking rock. I’m catatonic, but there’s so much there. And one day there won’t be. Forever and ever, but finite. I don’t know, no one knows, but most people have a pretty good idea. How does anyone live with it? Distractions. But it hits harder when the distractions are over. I’m O.K. She’s gone, I’m here, and I’m fortunate. But so fucking unlucky that I lost her. Unlucky that I’ll join her, but happy that I had her. I could have had anyone. At least I had her,” she said.

“You did. And your pain is as much a nuisance as it is a gift. Few can allow themselves to swim so deeply. You have an opportunity. I hope you’ll seize it,” the doctor said.

“You’re not listening to a word I’m saying,” she said.

“I am,” he said, “you’re just not yet willing to believe someone can hear you.”