Elevation

For some time now dotca had been increasingly aware of the pains deep in the centre of his chest. Coming most often as he reached the third of the seven flights of stairs to his studio, he had dismissed them as little more than a reaction to the too-strong coffee he habitually bought from the timber clad cafe in the park on his morning journey. The tightening – for it was this more than a specific pain – left him sweating, paused, bent over and leaning on the stair rail, panting for breath. This morning, when the tension had released and he could again stand and breathe normally, he reached into an inside jacket pocket and withdrew a slender glass phial, half filled with a tan-coloured liquid. With one familiar movement, his thumb snapped open the vitrine and he slowly, purposefully let the amber fluid roll out onto his tongue. In the moments that followed he heard the rattle of a door closing from further up the stairwell and the simultaneous hum and swoosh of the elevator as it arrived and opened behind him.