I stopped excreting. My breathing tapered into what would be more accurately called breaths. You brought salty broth. Each night in a shallow dish you set it beside me and the plume of salty steam drew over my bed. You stood then at the door through the hanging silk of it. I willed you there to wipe down my machines though I didn’t care and you did each night after a long look in at me. My heart beat yet what coursed through me I could not imagine. It pumped steam. Mismatched footfalls marked your departure and long down the hallway they clicked like a mouth parting. Only those low sounds floated through the house never seeming attached to anything, separated by time and tardy recollections. The night that pure silence swaddled you in my room there was no broth, just the empty bowl in its place. You stood in the doorway for much longer. I slept and woke. I didn’t fear or harbor concern that you might wipe down the machines but you did. Silence unbroken padded the house still as you left, though beams lurched in the attic. Soon I slept and woke less distinctly, hanging between for long stretches that straddled night and day or merged them. In dusk or night you turned the thumbscrews on the beige housings and wiped down the components inside my machines one at a time without looking at me, intent on each delicate contact, each circuit. In a day that appeared and did not leave you were gone. My breaths measured out days in that sunlight trap. Drifts and craggy crystals of salt rose on the machines. You abandoned me. Our nights abandoned me. But I felt unburdened. I felt freed. The invariable future was empty with limitless possibility. I met them in pure beauty, as my way was, asleep. I think it was dusk at last, many blazing nights after I’d last heard you in the stairs muttering incantations. You appeared in the doorway again and the muted sunset cast you champagne and bright. You told me I could walk and that we would walk. I was buoyant then, missing most of myself, just skin floating down through the stairwell that was cleaned but old and dry. The front door was just ajar to your voice on the stoop. Down to leaded glass and into a thick brown mist through which the sky still hung fluid colors of dim sunset I followed your winding voice across damp sand then across the rocky pools and onto the jetty that never seemed to end, until it did.