‘While you’re waiting we can take your height and weight, and your blood pressure.’
I’ve just received the flu vax. No sensation, no queasiness, as usual, and a wait of twenty minutes out by reception seems a bit pointless.
‘Well, my height won’t have changed.’ For some reason I’m feeling grumpy.
‘We don’t actually have your height on our records.’ Of course - I’ve only attended this Health Centre for a couple of years. The nurse’s voice hints that patients ought not to query things. I ignore it. She has a smile on, impersonal. I get the impression that if it was within her jurisdiction she would prefer to give me a lethal injection rather than a vaccination.
Grumpy. I need to shake off something: nerves, an odd having-my-grave-walked-over sensation. The night before, driving to a rehearsal for a play, I breathed in while eating a hard-boiled sweet. The sweet stayed in my cheek, but some combination of mucus and saliva glued across my windpipe. I lost the ability to draw breath. I pulled over. I thought how strange it would be to be found in a car, sitting upright, not breathing, eyes wide open. I thought about how annoyed the people at the rehearsal would be at my unexplained absence. I realised I didn’t have my cellphone on me, and even if I had had, trying to breathe was more important than making a final call. I thought: this is a horrible way to die.
My brain fiddled with these thoughts, my chest cracked open in an attempt to find air. No air. Out of my experience.
I forced myself to cough. The mucus mixture broke. Life returned to a post-possible-death normality.
I don’t need a lethal injection. I can die on my own, quite comfortably, thanks.