The Big C

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Salutation

"With any luck, you only have about eighteen months to feel guilty about it. Lucky for you. Not so lucky for me." He's starting to hate when she does that. Not yet, they're still in the club together, but the more she makes him like her the less he'll like it when she does that. He can't laugh along with her anymore. Only smile and try not to look sad.

At home there are boxes of photographs. Cathy Jamison's beautiful face, on Cathy Jamison's beautiful body. A bikini body, unfair to everybody. But today, after Naked Nancy and Dr. Todd's eyes bugging out of his head, for a moment it's someone else's body. Somebody beautiful, who had no idea what she was packing. Somebody who read Glamour magazine and weighed herself all the time and never once really looked in the mirror. Who gave her body away to everybody else, to look at, and kept nothing for herself, to love. In a world where the women don't know how beautiful they are.

Cathy's husband Paul Jamison lets himself in, calling out nastily about her "affair sex" and asking her to put on her clothes. Letting Paul run off thinking she was sleeping with Dr. Todd was just as selfish as letting Paul make love to her. It was as lazy as picking up her son Adam's clothes off the floor. It isn't the plan. She admits she isn't having an affair, but he's not sure. He finds it impossible to believe, in fact, that any woman as beautiful as she is would ever wait around for him. He doesn't understand, about bodies.

"So who's this doctor, then?" She lies again, and says Todd's the dermatologist. He accepts it, and starts in on their marriage for a moment -- she almost opens her mouth -- before getting distracted by this new and constant thirst. "Must be the adult onset diabetes. I can't get enough to drink." He grabs a glass, leaves the cabinet open, fills it up.

"That's why. Whenever you get anything out of the cabinet, you leave the door open. Every single time. And me asking you to shut them hasn't worked. And it doesn't seem fair to keep getting angry or resenting you for it. It's like Adam not picking up his clothes, and now all those hours, adding up to days, that I've spent closing cabinet doors and picking up clothes? I now desperately want back. So that's why."

That's as clear as she can make it, without telling him the truth. She wants to save Adam from the life that she gave him. She wants to forgive them both, for their selfishness, because they have limits. We all have limits, it's not judgment to say that they are limited, she thinks. It's only unfair to judge beyond them, and that's what she's been doing. A life made up of little messes and little resentments. And soon she won't have to see the clothes, or the cabinet doors, ever again. "That's as clear as I can make it."

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The Big C

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