A phenomenon often experienced by modem users who post long messages to newsgroups, e-mail, and Everything. A sensible user will set his modem to time out and hang up after a certain number of minutes, in case he gets distracted by homework, sleep, or a trio of nubile young women. Unfortunately, this timing out can often kick in while writing a long, well-thought-out post to Everything, causing much consternation to the typist.

You probably died a few miles back.

This was the last day I'll ever be really alive. You took too big of a piece of me up to heaven with you. Looking back over the bucket seat, your little shell glows with Cerenkov light in the desert night. I paw at my face to move the damned tears away and floor the car. I'll finish the journey for you.

Rose was a kid who drew a bad hand but played anyway. All the nurses said that they couldn't understand how she smiled beneath the IV hoses and blistering florescent lights. Losing your hair was the funniest joke in the world to you. It broke my heart like a hammer on ice.

White coats flowed in and out of our lives, morbid estimates and arcane procedures that you never really understood. You called it your "monster" and you soldiered on.

The monster started to win a few months ago. Even you couldn't fight forever. The cracks in the little girl facade were showing, and the circles under your eyes got as black as the ocean. Dying never looked more beautiful, or as sad.

The last day started when you finally cried. You woke up early, pale and piteous. Weary and thin. When you saw me sleeping in the chair, you toted that silver tree of poison across the cold gray tile and crawled into my arms. The tears on my cheek and the soft shudder of your silent surrender woke me up.

I'm dying.

I know.

We have to leave.

I know.

I love you.

I know.

The pain took you back under and I took you away. You always loved the desert. It was twilight when we passed out of the city. Under my jacket and curled up like a baby, I drove you out into the dead lands. Red sand and turquoise.

You died with that little smile on your face.

I died when I saw the sun rise.

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