The first time I heard about the second to last was in terms of music: the upbeat before the down, the pendulum, the truncated note before something brasher would ring out like a tornado siren when there is no tornado – noon on the first Wednesday, the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh. The word itself can be shortened, syllables lost like words, lost like loss: a dog that is certainly dead, a girl gone missing. At some point, we stop searching. At some point, we stop praying – the numbers dwindle as we get busier, the world gets busier. We are reminded by a date, a number. We have ten minutes. We have ten minutes so I am only going to tell you this once: will you marry me. You need to respond. You need to make your mouth form syllables, to draw out the E or the O; what you say does not matter – your reply means nothing. Believe me when I tell you that this is the perfect time, that this, here, is the perfect place: your friends are here. Your friends are my friends. Our friends are smiling, writing words on napkins, peeling labels. They will clash the bottles together to ring out our love. They will throw ice. We will not miss a thing here. Remember our first date. Remember our stadium, our names hyphenated, the place where we saw the bone crack clean in two like teeth through ice. Think about what your brother would say: what words he would form if his mouth were not filled with sand. This is not a game. This is not practice for a game. We have five minutes. There is a siren that is going to go off that will let us know that we are dead, that we were never fast enough, that our legs bouncing up and down while connected to machines did not mean anything, that none of this matters. I bought you a drink: gin and ice. You don’t have to drink it now, just hold it in front of your mouth like your hands while you are praying for this day to come, but not today. We have three minutes. I am the tamer of horses: they are waiting outside to take us somewhere else, to have us circle the city three times – ante-penultimate, penultimate, ultimately. Stop asking questions: you know my weakness for you have worn my armor. Take the tumbler and break it on the bar: someone will clean up the mess, someone will layer a clean coat of paint. Cut my neck into ribbons, put them in your hair for the big day. This is ending soon – sound the alarm, silent this time. Call the lost dogs, long left for dead. Do all of this so you don’t have to change your mind.