My life is one of lost moments, of almost. The hand almost reaching the doorknob, the eyes nearly rising from the floor, a near-kiss, like a near-miss but more regretful. Like the thoughts late at night—I almost walked through that room, I could have bought that dress—the nearlys follow me, the not-quites surface during a pause in thought, a look out the window.
I could have tried to stop her. It means nothing, that almost. A gesture, a good intention. But those ought to count for something—brownie points in the grand scheme of things. Inez lived on the top floor, three floors above me, all alone. Because of her long hair, long like drenched Spanish moss, I dreamed her into a Rapunzel-like situation, dreamed that she would look out a dirtied window at night, listening for someone to call up for a cascade of hair. Occasionally a car horn might wake me, heavy on the air, but never a human voice.
Sometimes, I thought I could hear her crying in the stairwell, but it might have been an ambulance siren. It might have been heat rushing through a vent, a child, a whining dog.
I almost tried to stop her, I almost did.
Maybe it was just one different sort of almost that ended her life, though. Almost can be good. We almost die a thousand times a year. A step to the right, a glance upward while driving—these are the kinds of almost that keep us alive. Luck grabs us and moves us out of the way. She almost died every day of her life, except for the last one.
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