The Big C
Two for the Road

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Sean's sister was across the street when she got the big idea. Behind the curtain, where her new life was a secret, she was bent over an aquarium while her neighbor cleaned her wound. She asked the new fish's name and the old woman grunted:

"His name is Shut Up And Stop Moving Your Ass."

The removal of the lump on her backside, the met, was as annoying as having it around. "An hour of surgery, a week of changing bandages, a month of scarring." A month like a scar through the middle of her summer. Sean's sister joked that her relationship with Marlene was ever increasing. The joke was that they had a relationship; joking about the relationship was their relationship.

Marlene apologized for forgetting his sister, after her surgery; Marlene was scared and not looking at the truth: Behind the curtain, she hadn't forgotten it. She'd misplaced some things, lost some time, found a shoe in the refrigerator. It wouldn't have bothered her quite so much if she hadn't needed to take care of someone else, so she apologized.

"Cancer is literally a pain in my ass," she joked. It was quiet in the house across the street. She wasn't so afraid of dying: It was the idea of not getting everything done. Organized and placed in their proper places. Marlene knew that nobody has that much time, but she spoke with the wisdom of age and Sean's sister couldn't hear her so she said the next best thing: "Pull your pants up. Now."

Marlene was good at dressing wounds. Her husband had colon cancer and her youngest daughter got liposuction, once. "I've taken care of a lot of assholes." Sean's sister could identify.

But, she thought, Marlene had a youngest daughter? Nobody ever visited. It was quiet in the house. "One of them married a Jew and the other one's a bulldyke. They call me once a month, if I'm lucky. It's the same damn conversation every time. How's the house? Am I taking my medication? How's my hip? It's pathetic." Marlene didn't like the look in her friend's eyes, far away and sad. But it wasn't for Marlene, this time.

"You kicked your husband out, your kid hates you, and your brother's homeless. Save your tears for yourself."

Sean was never homeless, he always said. But that week Sean really wasn't homeless. He was sleeping in his sister's yard, healing his ribs and feeling at the edges of the curtain. "Yeah, your life's full of sunshine," Marlene said, but his couldn't kick loose that feeling. There was always something going on the list:

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The Big C

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