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A Kingsbury Collection: Three Novels in One: Where Yesterday Lives, When Joy Came to Stay, on Every Sideby Karen Kingsbury
July 10, 1998
The first wave of pain seized his chest like a vice grip so that his hand flew to his heart and he gasped for breath. The second wave sent him to his knees. He felt his face contort from the pain, and he forced himself to concentrate on surviving. Help! The word formed on his lips and died there.
Air refused to move in and out of his body, and his lungs screamed for relief. The pain intensified; the grip tightened. There was tremendous pressure now, as if a cement truck had stalled directly over his heart.
He clutched harder at his chest, ripping a button from his shirt. In the recesses of his mind, in the only place that was not consumed with pain, he knew what was happening. His body crumpled slowly onto the matted brown carpet that lined the hallway. Get up! his mind screamed. But he remained motionless, every muscle convulsing in pain. Sweat beaded up on his forehead and his face seemed surrounded by flames. Frantically he gazed upward until he found the photographs that lined the walls. His eyes darted across the familiar faces.
Another wave hit, and he squinted in agony, staring at the people in the photos, seeing them when they were young. When they still liked each other.
He wondered if they knew how much he loved them and suddenly a million memories fought for his attention. Once more he tried to speak, to summon help, but no sound escaped and his eyelids grew heavier.
The strongest pain of all hit then, and in the haze of agony he calculated how much time had passed. How much remained.
He could no longer keep his eyes open—a fact that brought overwhelming sadness. He wanted to see them once more, the photographs…the people who lived in them. He struggled with every bit of his waning energy, but his eyes remained closed. There was a ringing sound in his ears now and he became light-headed. He was fainting, losing consciousness. He told himself that perhaps he was no longer having a heart attack but rather giving in to an overwhelming urge to sleep. He relaxed and let himself be sucked into the feeling.
Then one last time searing pain coursed through his body, and he remembered what was happening. Someone seemed to be shouting at him now.
Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!
He tried to move, to open his eyes. But he was slipping further away and it was too hard to come back. For the briefest moment, he thought again of the people in the photographs…and he prayed they would forgive him.
As he did so, the pain eased dramatically.
Then there was only darkness.
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