You take the afternoon off. Tell them you’re not feeling well. Need to lie down. But you aren’t really sick. You just have to get away. There is a forest. You need to go where the air is clean. So you tell them you’re sick. Your manager looks at you. She agrees. She says, you don’t look good. Go home. Take the day. Get better. You nod. At the elevator you see your face in the silver doors. It looks ashen. Are you sweating? You ride to the ground floor. Push through the revolving door. Outside, you feel your bowels loosen. You shiver. You ride the bus to your stop. You walk home tired. Worn down. As you lie in your bed, you think of the forest again. The trees. The pine needles. You sniff, imagining the scent. Your wife checks your head. You have a fever now. As the afternoon fades into dusk, she takes you to the hospital. The doctors are mystified. A nurse rolls you into the ICU. The sun sets. The room is beige. The window shows only dark, empty sky. No stars. A faint glow of street lights. Gasping into a mask you say, I just need some fresh air. They push the mask back over your face. Gently they lay you back down. You think of the forest. So far away. You just know you’ll never make it.