Despite the bitter wind tearing up the block, DJ found it peaceful on the limestone stoop. His hand trembled slightly as he lit a cigarette, but that was nothing new. I don’t want to die, he thought, exhaling smoke up toward the budding maples that lined the street. Everything below him appeared garish in the sodium light, but above, in the clear black sky, a single star joined the waning moon, making a lyric-worthy image. He wished he could write more songs instead of just noodling around. If he died now, what would his life have been? Belinda was furious he’d started smoking again. If she knew he’d stopped taking the antiseizure meds ages ago, she would probably—what, kill him? Divorce him? What could she do except be madder and more disappointed. The Dilantin had only been a safety measure, prescribed in the first months after his stroke. And the last time his prescription expired, he hadn’t seen the point of going back to the expensive neurologist, who could barely be bothered to crack open his chart. He’d been fine for years. The aneurysm that once defined his life and their relationship was ancient history. Or at least it had been. DJ felt her anger was misplaced, anyway. It was the memory lapses that had started him smoking—not the other way around. And he could think of worse things than a few hours lost in a pinball arcade. What difference did it really make if he couldn’t remember how or when he got there?

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