For more than a year after his wife had died, the Doctor did nothing but listen to his own heartbeat with his stethoscope. He stopped practicing medicine; stopped everything really. Somehow he believed, in much more than a metaphorical sense, that his wife was in his heart, and that if he listened carefully she would speak to him through his own life's rhythms. He understood the physiological heart. He was a doctor, after all. Nor had the myriad connotations and poetry of the word escaped his imagination, even remembering a line by Tennyson, "My heart would hear her and beat," He would sit with eyes closed and try to remember every minute they had spent together, every kiss, every quarrel, every ephemeral moment of passion, all the while listening to the varying tempo and intensity of his own heartbeat. As he traversed the city streets and parks, with daily sojourns in various cafes, while others retreated to their inner space by listening to their portable devices and cell phones, the Doctor would be plugged into the music of his own life, the distant music of his wife's memory played through the ventricles, venae cavae, and aortae at varying beats per minute. Often in crowds he would glimpse someone who looked like his wife, and his heart would beat frenetically, and then literally ache when he realized his error. The outside world by now had become oblique, like a glint in someone's night eye, while voices and sounds were muffled and meaningless. Undoubtedly, the young man who mugged him at the cash machine had not intended to stab him. But the Doctor's seemingly bizarre complacency had provoked a sense of panic in the criminal and caused the precautionary thrust of the blade that punctured one of the Doctor's venae cavae. As he sat slumped against the glass door of the cash machine vestibule, with his stethoscope still attached, the Doctor listened to the sea within his chest. He remembered a time with his wife, long before they were married, when she walked with him on a long stretch of deserted beach. At one point, they both stooped to pick up the same shiny stone, and he knew at that moment that he would love her forever. Even after he heard the last heartbeat, his mind dreamt the smoothness of the stone, and he felt the coolness of it on his cheek.