"How long were you together?" asks the doctor, pressing a stethoscope against my back.
"Two and three-quarter years," I say.
"And how long is it since you split up?" he asks.
"Two and three-quarter months," I say.
Everybody always asks the same two questions, and I wonder if there's some kind of mathematical equation that I'm unaware of going on here.
I'm at the hospital, making sure this pain I have in my chest isn't pneumonia.
"No, it's not pneumonia," says the doctor.
I wonder if maybe, just maybe, it could be my heart?
"There's nothing wrong with your heart," he says, putting the stethoscope away. "But I'd like to do a chest X-Ray. There may have been some damage to your ego."
My ego? My ego is in my chest? I never knew that! I never knew my ego was in my chest.
"No," says the doctor. "Not many people do."
* * *
Later, as I wait for the results, I notice a framed photograph on his desk: two small children running along a beach, a dog, and a pretty woman in a dress. It's perfect. I wonder if maybe he cut it out of a catalog one afternoon.
"Like I thought," he says, striding back into the room. "Bruising all down one side."
I've never seen an ego before. It's like a jelly-fish up there on the light box, caught mid-squirm in my upper ribcage. I can see a face in it, if I squint. My ego looks like Jack Nicholson, I think.
"Is it a particularly big ego?" I ask, wide-eyed.
He shrugs. "It's a little on the large side."
"And the bruising?" I whisper, almost afraid to ask. "How much longer is this terrible bruising going to last?"
"It's been two and three-quarter months now," he says, leaning in to tell me exactly what I want to hear. "This will all be over by midnight tonight. A simple mathematical equation: a month for every year."