The Big C
Happy Birthday, Cancer!

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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The Suitcase Kid

It was supposed to be this way: Small ceremony, large reception. They wanted to keep the money for their honeymoon; she'd never even seen most of the world's oceans. His family grew up wealthy, traveling, and he wanted to show her the world. But his mother got involved, and her sister with the cats and the gift-wrapping closet, and suddenly it was lists and deposits and funny uncles and the cousin he'd once kissed, and John found Samantha sitting on the floor of the walk-in closet, staring up at him with eyes gone slightly mad, and for one second the world tilted but then John remembered that she would never leave him, she said it and he believed it, and he knew he felt the same. This was about the weight of expectation, the fact that everybody there would be staring at them like some kind of crystal ball, trying to get a glimpse of the future. Trying to see, through them, to a happy ending. John knew they'd have that regardless. So he knelt and took her hand and said, "There is a fucking better way. Get your toothbrush."

Lenny finds Cathy upstairs, packing light, getting ready to go. She admits she had fun; that he was right and she can have it all. "So. We're gonna do the cake, and then I'm gonna shoo everybody away, and then I'm gonna send Adam over to Paul's. I feel like I'm in college!" When she was happy. She rewrites the story: "When I didn't worry about consequences!"

It's a nice idea. It's neat to think that you can leave consequence behind. But for every item she puts in the suitcase, another ten follow just behind it. You can't see them, but they have a weight. Add them up together and you could barely shift it. He won't be one of them. They deserve better, all of them.

Lenny smiles sadly and tells her that he's leaving, just as she's holding up her new bathing suit. The smile falls and she pastes it right back up again. "Go now? You want me to meet you at the airport?" He shakes his head and she keeps packing, determined. "I like Paul," he says. She agrees, lists his good qualities as though listing them, organizing them, will make them less relevant. He leans against the wall, letting go. "If you take Paul to the Bahamas, I'm gonna be very jealous," she jokes. The smile drains away.

"I don't know anything about marriage. I almost know nothing about yours -- what went wrong, or why -- but you must have seen something in him once?" She did. He made her laugh, he's a great dancer. She comes around the bed to explain the thing to Lenny that he still doesn't understand.

"He was bragging about the cake that he got for me. Chocolate, with raspberry filling. My favorite, he said." That was thoughtful. "Yeah, except it's his favorite." This is the question of Cathy and Paul, the one she can't answer and the one that sent the other ones scattering, like ants on a hill: "Now is that because I never said out loud what my favorite cake was, or because he didn't listen when I said it?"

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The Big C

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