Were he to have the heart surgery nothing would change. The mornings could come and the evenings would come. The children would cry, still. He would live. In the grocery store parking lot he still sat. The berms snow banked. Grim faced women, squinting in the wind, traveled from their cars to the automatic doors. And back. Pushing carts, goading their own children.
His car had been warm but now it was cold. He considered that he might turn on the car, the heater, but he didn’t. The phone he held was cold too. Coldest, weighty. Had it grown further heft in the waiting?
With the clock checked he found, yet again: the appointment time approached—approaching—the gap to its coming grown lesser.
He imagined his wife at home, expecting him soon to return. Was she worried? He knew her image: her fidgeting in the kitchen, holding the phone to her face then placing it down. Phone to face then down again. She was pacing, perhaps. Back and forthing. Surely.
He recalled a time in the heat, at a beach. Not a large beach but a small one.
They disallowed inflatable things, the signs stated it.
He hadn’t had children then but had been entrusted with the care of another’s. Their questions had been endless. Then the tears as the inflatable things had been returned to the car.
In the sound of the tears he had felt futile.
He found it was the same car he sat in now as then—the same sense too—though in the cold.
He gave a call. He listened long. He made the effort.
—No, I’m in a grocery store parking lot.
He put the key in the ignition, didn’t turn it.
—I don’t know.
A woman walked by. An elderly woman. She stared into his car. Perhaps she thought he was a pedophile, rapist, murderer. Surely one of these, perhaps all three.
The phone got so loud so he hung it up.
Was it the right thing to do?
Was his heart meant to keep beating?
And were the mornings meant to keep coming?
The women to keep coming? And going?