He wakes up bleary eyed and with the scent of coffee in his nostrils, the sunlight glaring through the broken blinds and into his eyes. He stares for a moment at the ceiling as if to find there a motivation to arise more inspiring than guilt or habit. He searches his mind for something to which to look forward. Failing at that he gets up anyway and stumbles toward the kitchen.

He pours himself a large cup of coffee, the hunger pangs in his stomach offset by his morning nausea. He takes a sip so as not to spill any on his way to his desk. Awaiting him there is his morning routine: bills, news, paperwork, work calendar. He receives a message from his friend. He sees the love in it as well as the containment required to give that love given his current state of despair and loneliness. His mind understands; his heart is broken. He knows the break was already there and that life simply has a way of reminding him of it.

He knows that it will be a trying day; that he will tend to people’s hearts while trying to forget the pain in his own. He knows that he will not reach out if for no other reason than that his hopelessness feels impenetrable. He sits himself on the couch and tries desperately to remember what his reasons are for being. Realizing that he is working himself into a panic he picks up a book of short stories and reads.

The story is about a woman who goes to Italy in order to avoid the pain of a recent breakup only to realize that the pain followed her there. He takes just enough comfort from this to stave off the anxiety. His nausea has passed and he returns to the kitchen to make two turkey patties. He eats them with his hands on the kitchen island while prepping the paperwork for his files. He finishes his meal and washes up the dishes.

A sense of dread overtakes him as he looks at the clock. Work begins soon. His patients will both save him from his despair and exhaust him to the bone. They will give him a reason to be—a dissatisfying one, but a reason nevertheless. He checks himself one last time for something to which to look forward. Nothing. He remembers his friend’s advice: tell yourself “I love you” throughout the day. He tells himself, pats himself on the shoulder and goes to work.

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