The Big C

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Salutation
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Adam is never going to pick up his dirty clothes no matter how many times his mother Cathy asks him to; she's been asking him since he was old enough to dress himself, and because she was lazy in a particular way, she didn't force it. She picked them up herself because it was easier, not because it was harder, and now she feels that preserving his inclination toward being a slob has in fact done him a disservice in the larger arena of life.

Her actions, Cathy explains, have consequences. He's waking slowly, hanging half off the bed as he always does, still too sleepy to even understand what she's saying, but they do just the same.

"And what's worse, I've done a disservice to your future wife. I'm a teacher, who can't teach my son the importance of basic neatness and courtesy. It's almost funny, isn't it?" She asks herself. "Not really," she answers herself, and leaves his bedroom. All his scattered clothes piled in a bin, under her arm, out into the yard, where the fire is already going.

Finally awake, squealing in that way he won't be doing much longer, Adam Jamison finds his mother in the yard at the edge of a very deep hole, at the bottom of which is a safe and neutral couch with wine-stained cushions, which is currently on fire. A fire into which his mother is tossing the scattered articles of his clothing, one by one. She'll burn him strong. He's going to soccer camp tomorrow, for six weeks. She invites him to track down his uncle but he runs away, crabbing and shouting. Cathy smiles.

"I love you, Adam!"

The ashes have spread across the neighborhood. Neighbor Marlene appears, still looking as lovely and put-together as she has since the day Cathy called her a cunt, with ashes in her coffee cup and a mouth that tastes like cigarettes. Cathy laughs and promises the fire will go down soon, but Marlene likes to yell. "You can't just burn a fire in a residential neighborhood without a permit!"

Cathy invites her to call the cops again, informing her that Marlene's cost her three months waiting for permits now. "Should be done by Christmas, though. Which will make my pool more of an ice rink. Why don't you come on by for a skate?"

Marlene grumbles that Cathy just wants her to break a hip. Yes, but that's a deadlock, so she's sad for a moment and then reboots it. Cathy smiles up at her on the deck, invites her inside for better, fresher coffee. No ashes. Marlene stomps away again. Cathy smiles, correcting her from the fireside.

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The Big C

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