It was another hot and humid afternoon in August. A fine sheen covered everything, lending ordinary people a glow usually associated with saints and supermodels. Even my parquet floors were sweating. At 2:15 I left my husband and went to the dentist to have my teeth whitened. Michael was sleeping when I left. He had been suffering for days from a chronic headache, and I thought it best not to wake him. I expected to be home in about an hour. I swept back into our apartment at 3:45, teeth gleaming. The first thing I noticed was a wicked smell, like rubber burning on a hot sidewalk. Michael had gone to the acupuncturist the day before, seeking relief from his headache and, from past experience with such remedies, I assumed he must have brewed her special tea. I bypassed the living room and walked down the hall to our bedroom, where I'd left Micheal sleeping an hour and a half before. Our blue and white paisley duvet lay crumpled on the bed, but Michael was no longer under it. The air conditioner beckoned me with a loud rumble, and I stood in front of it for a moment, letting the stale breeze cool my skin. Sufficiently chilled, I turned and walked back down the hall into the heavier air of our living room. It was then that I saw him, lying at the foot of the green overstuffed chair, a few inches away from his favorite perch on the well-worn, beige linen sofa. Except for the small pool of blood that had formed on the rug beside his head, he looked as if he might still be sleeping. I ran past Michael to the far end of the room, my heart beating hard in my throat. I rummaged through the papers and notebooks that covered my desk in search of the portable phone. Finding it, I dialed 911. After what felt like enough time to grow old in, a dispassionate voice finally came on to the line. "I think my husband is dead," I said, shaking. There was no thought. Just words and sweat and panic. "What should I do?" "Why do you think he's dead?" asked the woman, sounding slightly bored. I looked at Michael, shirtless on the floor. His skin, always fair and freckled, had turned an unnatural shade of lavender. And he was quiet. I had slept beside Michael for a dozen years, and he always snored like a water buffalo. Now, except for the crazy pounding in my chest, the silence was deafening. And finally, Michael was normally such a light sleeper. If he weren't dead, surely in all this commotion he would have woken up by now. "I'm pretty sure he's dead," I replied, digging my nails into my palms in an effort to keep from screaming. "Tell me what to do." The woman gave me instructions as if speaking to a ten-year-old. And like any good child, I did as I was told. I performed mouth-to-mouth and thought fleetingly that Michael's lips still felt warm against mine. I lifted his callused hand and touched his wrist, feeling for a pulse. He was still. I felt numb. "There's no change," I told the 911 operator. And then, clearly running out of options, I called on God for a miraclea sudden gasp for breath, a fluttering of the eyelids. The woman instructed me to push on Michael's chest, and I inadvertently hung up the phone to do so. Push. Nothing. How did this happen? Just a few days ago I was telling my best friend Phoebe how unexpectedly well my life was going. She was right, I thought dejectedly. I should have spit. Because in the time it took to get my teeth a whiter shade of white, it was all gone, my guts in a knot as I knelt beside my motionless husband. Push. Nothing. I needed further instructions. As long as I was doing something, I thought, there was still room for hope. I reached for the phone just as it began to ring. Could itEdelman, Amy Holman is the author of 'Manless in Montclair How a Happily Married Woman Became a Widow Looking for Love in the Wilds of Suburbia', published 2007 under ISBN 9780307236951 and ISBN 0307236951.