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No Way of Knowing
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He’d had the chest pains for weeks, but he had no place to put them. His doctor could not locate a source. He had not recently fallen out of love. He was not prone to death fantasies or bids for attention. Seventy-four years old and never missed a day on that stationary bike—not the fancy Peloton kind, just a number he’d bought in the ’80s that was still ticking.

He was, in a word, fine.

But the pains persisted, reminding him that nature is a mean mother. Life will run along just fine until your luck runs out. It hurts and you don’t know why. Or you have all the reasons but no company to share them with. You get a diagnosis while they’re searching for the cure.

That night, he put himself to bed, his pains joining him there. He wished for a man beside him, but Hank had died two years ago. The death-a-versary was five days ahead, Bob realized, his chest pains subsiding, making way for sobs.

No warning: Hank gone. Heart hearts. Jags come when sleep would be better.

Life does that, Bob thought. It grabs you by the chest and you don’t know why.

Bob died in his sleep. Heart disease? Heartache? All that troubleshooting wasted on a mystery unsolved. Now answers would never come. No one left to ask them, anyway.

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