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He looked up at the digital clock and wondered how many times it had been the bearer of bad news. At this exact second it read 10:32:45 and from then on it continued its metronomic tick. The nurse beside him hovered over a computer as he, Jonathan Foray, lay still in his bed. For it was his bed now. And this pre-op room was his court.

Perhaps the clock was counting down to a finality. His finality. Like the last day of high school when he threw his notebooks in the bin — the bittersweet satisfaction. No more mathematics, no more bullies, no more listening to Miss Sudmick’s whining voice. But sitting in a hospital bed, waiting for a surgeon to fix his arrhythmic heart doesn’t compare to the end of school. For one, he could end up —

“I’m just gonna put your cannula in,” the nurse said in her condescending tone. He glanced over at her and nodded. He was glad the thought was cut off. He didn’t want to be the digital clock’s next victim. The nurse held Jonathan’s hand with careful indifference. Her other hand slid the cannula into the back of his. Then he shifted back to the clock. 10:33:33, :34, :35, :36. It was slow and calculating. Every second in this bed was a second wasted. Yet Jonathan never really cared much for punctuality. Only when he was really late.

On any other Thursday, he would be at work, taking coffee orders from Balmain’s snobbiest clientele. Time is irrelevant in the coffee business. Because, if it was busy, time ran with you. But here, in this hospital bed, with only a white robe covering his naked body, it seemed this nurse’s time was the only one running. She had other orders to take care of.

The cannula was in, locked down with strong tape. The nurse twisted on a syringe filled with salt water and squeezed the cold contents into Jonathan’s left hand. It felt weird. Then the door opened behind him and the anaesthetist strolled in. She held a syringe of her own.

“Are you ready to get some sleep?”

No, he wasn’t. He would never be ready. Jonathan could never get to bed before midnight, let alone before midday. And what was coming was not sleep, but damn near unconsciousness. He read about it in the Pre-Op waiting room. That didn’t help his fragile heart.

The anaesthetist flew past him, sending a shockwave of air over him. In it he could smell the burning stench of alcohol. And at that second, he knew the question of sleep wasn’t seeking an answer. She was going to make him sleep no matter what. Because time was racing for her too.

Jonathan looked back at the clock. 10:33:57, :58, :59. Another foreign slither of coldness gushed up his arm. The world around him became meaningless.

And as the clock continued its metronomic tick, Jonathon’s heart raced ahead. As if it couldn’t wait any longer.

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