The Big C

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Now You See Me
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The woman at the counter of the nursery says she didn't see Cathy Jamison standing there, waiting for the attendant, flat hand-truck full of fertilizer and a stand of blue-eyed irises -- ready to plant, though she did look at seeds and bulbs, ready to go in the ground today, to be looked at, to perform the function of beauty and attraction -- but the woman at the counter of the nursery is lying when she says that. She saw Cathy Jamison, and she didn't care. She is "pressed for time," she will be "real quick," she asks whether Cathy minds even as she's loading her things onto the counter of the nursery, in a long breath of words that ends with a dismissive thanks.

Cathy Jamison begins to stack her items on the counter, between the rude woman's things and the attendant. The woman is not welcome. She sees Cathy now. Cathy's breaking the rules that she was merely bending, rudely. "Sorry, I'm a little pressed for time too. I have cancer? So would you mind getting your shit off the counter, so I can buy my irises and plant them before I die?" The thanks with which she ends her sentence is bright and chipper and blue-eyed.

Cathy's son is listening to loud trailer park music but not loud enough to block out the frenzied sounds of a woman falsely climaxing, performing the function of beauty and attraction, a sound you can nearly always hear if you are looking for it. Cathy isn't looking for it when she heads upstairs to ask for his help unloading the car, the fertilizer and the irises; she isn't looking for it when he doesn't answer, focused on something else, something that is nearly arriving; she isn't looking for it when she finally opens the door, thinking that she just isn't being heard. Cathy Jamison sees, and is seen.

Will he cry? Will he scream, that marvelous operatic child's scream of his? Is it possible for any of us to actually die of shame or to will ourselves to death from same? Cathy has no shame at all. "I could pretend that I didn't see what I just saw, but I'm not going to. You were obviously watching pornography, and I think we should talk about it."

She doesn't have a clear objective, a clear recipe for this disaster, when she says it. She just wants to be brave. In time her son would grow beyond his limits and their relationship would change, metamorphose, the fear and strangeness would leak away as they finally finished dividing themselves apart. A man, instead of a son. But because Cathy won't see that day, she wants everything now. Everything all of the time: Let's have all the sex talks we are ever going to have because these are all the sex talks we are ever going to have.

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The Big C

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