I died when I was 28 years old.

I stirred one morning at 7:01 am, shrieked inside my head, and passed out before my eyes opened. If I’d woken up an hour earlier, I’d have felt the warm gush of sleepy air, as the hallway heater came to life (Alexa set a reminder to clean the heater vent).

Had I’d woken up at 6:30 like I usually do, I’d have remembered that Paula was meeting me at the cafe downtown, where I’d spill the scoop on the new man in my life.

Had I’d blinked awake 5 minutes ago, I’d have noticed the dog growling because he heard the front door open.

And if I’d woken up just a minute before, I would have seen him pick up the pillow (not the big one, but grandma Sally Louise’s headrest that always smelled of cinnamon). I’d have watched him tiptoe across the room and run his fingers on my cheek. One last patch of the world before I drowned in my bed. Every color of the rainbow snuffed out before my eyes.

From 7:04 am to midmorning, the dog barked from his crate, before settling into a soft whimper. The noon sun climbed up in the sky and Paula found me, as I lay there limp and smelling of cinnamon. Her mouth, a comical “O” of shock, Paula screamed and jabbed at her phone and the dog began barking again.

To be fair, my mom warned me about Tinder.

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