I felt cheated.
I had watched the sun eventually dip behind the few skyscrapers Portland had to offer, throwing my bench into the shadows of oncoming night as the stone slowly made its way up to my chest.
I had waited to feel anything — pain, numbness, tired, something! But there was only a brief moment where my chest tightened, a precursor to the panic attack I didn’t bother to entertain. When you were dying, there was no point in letting something as ridiculous as anxiety steal what few moments of peace you had left. But that was it. There was no weighty last breath, no final beat of a heart trying to survive in a confined, cement box. I just couldn’t move. And that was nothing new.
I’d watched as the lights on the side of the Morrison Bridge came on, an artificial Aurora Borealis, and I knew the Bancorp Tower behind me would be burnished pink, blushing under the sun’s last kiss. And still, I didn’t die.
I’d felt the cold fingers of stone silence the pulse in my neck and closed my eyes. At last, it would be over. But death still eluded me, taunting, a ghost flickering in the ripples of the river water. It wasn’t fair! I’d managed to screw up everything else in my life, how could I possibly get death wrong? Death was the same for everyone. A promise you couldn’t escape, bribe, or mess up. And yet, I was still alive. Impossibly alive. Maybe I couldn’t die? Maybe I’d be trapped in stone, conscious, and unmoving, forever.
As the cool grey had spread over my face, clawing up my cheeks toward my eyes, I’d braced myself. If I had still been breathing, I would’ve held it. But since that bodily function had long since ceased, I’d simply waited. An immobile, silent mind losing its physical form.
Eventually, I’d felt the stone fingers lace themselves together at the top of my head. It was over. My transformation complete.
And I was still alive.