"I am walking on Eighth Avenue during the five o'clock rush, thinking of changing a word in a sentence, and somewhere in the Forties, I don't notice the light turning red. Halfway into the path of an oncoming truck, I am lifted off my feet by a pair of hands on my upper arms and pulled back onto the curb. The hands do not release me immediately. I am pressed to the chest of the person to whom the hands belong. I can still feel the beating heart against my back. When I turn to thank my rescuer I am looking into the middle-aged face of an overweight man with bright blue eyes, straw-colored hair, and a beet-red face. We stare wordlessly at each other. I'll never know what the man is thinking at this moment, but the expression on his face is unforgettable. Me, I am merely shaken, but he looks as though transfigured by what has just happened. His eyes are fixed on mine, but I see that they are really looking inward. I realize that this is his experience, not mine. It is he who has felt the urgency of life —he is still holding it in his hands.

"Two hours later I am home, having dinner at my table, looking out at the city. My mind flashes on all who crossed my path today. I hear their voices, I see their gestures, I start filling in lives for them. Soon they are company, great company. I think to myself, I'd rather be here with you tonight than with anyone else I know."