So I guess eventually you have to bite the bullet and post something that is admittedly not perfect. Forgive me my mistakes.


A heartbeat is the most deceptively simple of things. It's only a simple thump-thump, thump-thump, pushing blood through cavities. But that blood runs through thousands of little tunnels throughout the human body – the distance of them combined more than that of the radius of the earth. This blood pumps through the body, created by the myriad other processes of our miraculous system, infused with oxygen by our lungs (just a simple in-and-out motion but so, so much more), busily dispersing oxygen to needy cells and disposing of their waste. As with all human processes (biological or otherwise) it is neither completely perfect nor exceedingly efficient, but, as is also the wonder of all of our precariously balanced chemical processes, they, despite all odds, despite everything that could go wrong, work. They really, really work.

And these processes – they power the whole of the human soul, the teenage angst, the sheen of a new relationship, the love for a puppy to the hatred of a school bully. These processes have powered every action of every human since the beginning (and before) of our history. Every human achievement, every light switch, every architectural work of genius, was powered by someone's heart pumping someone's blood stream – such a fragile, fragile, thing. This incomprehensible, amazing miracle of chances binds us all, throughout history, together. Everything any man, woman, or child has done in the history of the world? All were able to do it only because of the great, incredible power of a single pumping heart. Any achievement at all, any thought, any breath – impossible without the beating of a heart.

Thus thought Katya as she watched her life blood pour out onto the floor.

Her heart kept pumping, but it was in vain. Her body could not produce enough blood quickly enough to replace that which she had lost (and continued to lose). Despite its valiant efforts, the fragile balance of her body had been disrupted, and could not fix itself. The incredible miracle of her body working for every minute of her 27 years was suddenly irrelevant. Her body never had a chance to beat the odds and keep going. Her time had been ended by the actions powered by someone else's heart.

Her vision narrowed as she stared at her own death, the blood pooling out and soaking into the concrete. (So this is tunnel vision, she thought. She had only ever read about it before.) She knew that it was from the blood loss, the scarce oxygen that, despite the gasping of her lungs, the frantic beating of her heart, her body's desperate, last-ditch attempts to save itself, would not be enough to save her. There would be no second chances for her. There was not enough left to work with, and the miracle of her existence would end in her slow, painful death.

She closed her eyes instead of watching it narrow further (it was kind of fun at first but now it was just making her nauseous). She thought of happier times, happier places. The images surrounded her. Another miracle of the human body – the ability of the mind to make out of a situation what is not there.

Katya pulled up images of her family, of her old school friends, of beautiful sights from long-ago trips. Anything that would make her happy in her final moments and distract her from what was really happening.

Katya thought of anything but the severing of her femoral artery, of the coldness of the air around her and the concrete floor below her that was stealing the warmth from her body as it stole her blood.

Katya almost smiled, the tension of pain in her face turning it into a grimace. Her grandmother had always told her, sitting in her wheelchair, breathing tube in her nose "You never know when your number's gonna come up with God. The Lord doesn't call with one day reminders for his appointments. What He wants, He takes. You better just hold on to the seat of your pants and go where He leads you, because you've not got the wit nor the wisdom to know where your life is going or when it's gonna end."

Her grandmother had died 12 minutes after last imparting that particular piece of wisdom upon her only granddaughter for the last time. She was in the middle of explain to Katya how she should transplant her beloved magnolias because her grandmother would not "be able to move my own lungs, let alone a shovel". Katya didn't realize she was gone until she looked up and found that, instead of considering possible relocation sites for her plants, she was staring blankly into space, her eyes glassy.

Later, Katya sat where her grandmother had sat, trying to see what she had been looking at, but there was nothing there. Tasha (my name is Tasha! Grandmothers are old women) had never been a particularly easily understood woman.

Between one breath and the next, her grandmother was gone, on to whatever adventure she would undertake next. Without her.

And now, Katya would now leave her own children behind, children who would quite possibly never remember their mother, never fully understand what had happened to her.

But Katya didn't want to think about that.

As she contemplated the events of her life leading up to this event, Katya had to admit that her grandmother was right. She had not been expecting her death. Instead of dwelling on her current situation she contemplated the highlights of her own life. It was good that she had taken her grandmother's advice to heart and lived as best she could a life with no regrets. Really, she could never decide or know when she would die, which breath would be her last. This time was just as good as