Sloane picked up the smallest piece of chicken she could find and put it in her mouth. She started to chew. You’re being irrational, Sloane scolded herself as she sat in front of her kung pao chicken and trembled. What are the odds of one person choking twice?
Three months ago she had choked on an over-zealous bite of French Dip at a lunch counter. A diner at the next table had come to give her the Heimlich to dislodge the mass of prime rib and french bread lodged in her airway. Ever since, she’d been afraid to eat anything more solid than yogurt when she was alone. If she started choking alone there would be no nice Italian man to save her like last time. She knew she had to get over this eventually so, tonight, she was eating solid food. Alone.
Sloane kept chewing.
When the delivery man handed her the bag of food moments ago, she thought briefly of inviting him to join her. They’d split the food and discover that they both love old Tracy and Hepburn movies. They’d quote their favorite scenes, and if she’d accidentally laughed at the wrong time and a chunk of chicken had gotten lodged in her trachea, he’d know just what to do. After all, he worked in a restaurant all day and they were bound to have at least one of those choking posters up somewhere. Instead, she just handed him the cash, said “Thanks,” and sat down to face her meal alone.
Sloane kept chewing.
She couldn’t taste it anymore. The tiny piece of chicken had been pulverized into a flavorless paste. She tried not to picture herself turning blue while plunging desperate fists into her abdomen in vain as a rogue food particle choked the life out of her. She wondered how long it would take for someone to find her lifeless body strewn across her apartment floor amidst spilled rice and abandoned egg rolls.
She forced herself to swallow and panicked a moment. This was it. This was where her life would end. She started to wonder what they’d put on her tombstone when she realized she was breathing. The food had successfully made its way past her tongue, down the appropriate tube and landed safely in her stomach. She was going to live.