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Short Story

Cancer (short story)

It’s strange, because I know if there is one time, in my entire life, where it is appropriate to cry, it is right now. This instant. Yet I feel nothing. I simply calmly meet they eyes of the man who has given me a sentence, the man who has taken everything with a solitary sentence, and thank-him for doing all he can. I can tell he’s sorry, but he must do this five times a day. Thank god I won’t live long enough to have the potential to be like this doctor. Sickness is a bitch, but it, like everything has its benefits.

I walk out to the waiting room, and wish that I hadn’t brought my mother with me. She said she wanted to support me, but one look from her overly sensitive eyes and she’s roiling with all that which I keep dead in side. Somehow I feel embarrassed, some subliminal part of me is wishing she wouldn’t make such a big deal about this. But it is a big deal. My life’s just been cut down to a quarter. I should be happy to have someone weep for me.

With all the grace I can muster, I go down on my knees, as if to pray. I meet my mothers eyes, and hold my arms open. She falls into me, me who fell from her, her who made me, me who will leave first. I hold her and don’t think and carry her and don’t think and call a taxi and don’t think beyond what an appropriate tip for the cabbie should be.

 

He was trying to be brave. My heart broke. When you’re trying to be brave, there must be something that you need to be brave about.

I knew something was terribly wrong, headaches don’t last for days. I told him to go to the doctor. They say better late then never, and this is certainly not the case.

As the door opens, I collapse. His eyes are full of unshed tears, his back is straight, and I’ll never be happy again.

He comforts me, or tries to. How can he know my sorrow? I am so bitter, so caustic, but he will never have kids, never have to lose kids. I would take his pain away from him but it is not mine to take. I would die for him but it would do no good. I get to watch him decay. Ash to ash, dust to dust, with my eyes watching the entire time.

 

By the time we get home, after a long car ride without a word outside of politeness, I can tell that he is at peace with himself. Before, he had a solid forty years left. Now he has under one. All he has done is restructure his goals, take out the fat, and he is resigned to living a full life in a fraction of the time.

I still have twenty good years left. That will be nine-teen without him. Does he think of that? Does he thick of all the things I’ve thought to do with him, to see him do, that I will not get to do now.

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