I moved forward, out of the blackest sleep, to find myself surrounded by three of my children. I had the sense that they all shared a deep sorrow. As my eyes opened and closed slowly I could see their faces, sad and disbelieving. They were speaking in whispers to each other; the cadence of their voices was elegiac, mournful; rising and falling softly like the gentle lapping of a lakeside shore. An alarm stopped before I could realise it was sounding. The faintest waft of a familiar scent tiptoed around me, bringing memories of summer picnics by the river, dinners with my wife and Sunday lunch with the whole family gathered round the table. My youngest daughter leaned in close to kiss me tenderly on the forehead and there was a slight easing of the pain in my chest. I could feel the pulse of my heart beating out a stronger, steadier rhythm. Doctors entered the room walking backwards and stared at my eldest son. His face was grey and he looked so old, he seemed close to tears, but whatever they said to him, seemed to cheer him. His face stared at them optimistically, the colour draining back into his cheeks, his eyes searching their faces for some sort of sign. I drifted off again into a sleep, lighter than before and I dreamt.
When I woke again nurses buzzed around me. The bright light of an operating theatre shone into my eyes forcing me to wince and blink. From behind my head a man leaned in, his face obscured by a surgical mask, hair covered, hands in gloves. He spoke to me softly, counting up from 6,7,8,9,10. The nurses lifted me from the table onto a trolley and wheeled me from the room. They seemed in a rush but were running backwards, glancing at me all the while, one nurse checking my wrist for a pulse, another adjusting the drip apparatus above me. Very soon we were in a cubicle with thin curtains drawn along a flimsy rail. I felt woozy lapsed into unconsciousness again.
The third time I woke I felt a jarring pain across my chest, I looked up to see a paramedic holding the two pads of a defibrillator. His colleague, a pretty young woman in a green uniform, her hair pulled back tightly, leant in to kiss me full in the mouth before kneeling and pushing down hard into my ribs several times. That hurt so much I passed out again.
I was lying on the pavement. I heard a car horn sounding continually and felt a warmth spreading across the back of my head. Instead of standing up I somehow leapt up from this prone position and I turned to face car. Through the windshield of the car I could see an old woman. In a brief instant our eyes met and horror flashed across her face before she turned to look through her side window. The car was skidding but backwards, away from me, moving faster as it got further from me. As I watched, the old lady fought with the steering wheel, trying to control the slide of her vehicle but she slid into the leaning post box that was battered as if it had been hit by something before. Thankfully for the old lady the car then swerved back into the middle of the road and neatly reversed around the corner and out of sight. I turned and walked back home.