Ether: "the rarefied element formerly believed to fill the upper regions of space b : the upper regions of space : heavens .... a light volatile flammable liquid C4H10O used chiefly as a solvent and especially formerly as an anesthetic" (Merriam Webster)
The cotton pad over the face. Ether. Counting down to going under. An anaesthetic from another era, the smell triggers nostalgia like some perverse version of Proustian involuntary memory ... And with the anaesthesia, lost time. Only an unaccounted for period of existence, and a residue of pain.