The Big C
Two for the Road

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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"Sharon had hotel vouchers! Do you hate me for trying to make peace?"

Never. Anymore than she could hate him for trying to pull back the curtain on their lives. In the car, she got another text message, and again she wouldn't let him see. Who cheats when you already have someone who loved you? His sister thought this was the reason he hated their father, but she had no idea. He pulled down the curtain on their dreams, their lives; he fenced them in. He knew the world, but it was Sean that was a part of it.

Thomas licked Adam's face, out in the front yard, and when Marlene asked him if he was alive, he threw up toward her shoes. "It's okay it's okay my dad's here everything's fine. Everything is cool," he mumbled in the grass.

Sean parked along the side of the road so that his sister could go the bathroom. When her phone rang with another text message, a car coming up the road behind them, he zoomed a few feet ahead, to give his sister a shock and the other driver a little show. She laughed, calling his name from the grass. He smiled to himself. The text message read, "I wish I was inside you right now."

Sean's sister was still laughing when she came back down the hill, but he wasn't smiling anymore. "Who's Lenny?" Her face fell; he waved the phone around, voice breaking: "What the hell is this, Cathy? Are you fucking this guy? You fucking around on Paul?" She admitted it, all at once. Too many parts of the story, so she just admitted it. He was disgusted, he threw the phone underhand back to her. He'd always felt protective of her, against Paul the jerkwad husband, he said. And this whole time she was having an affair.

The message pulls back the curtain a little bit on her secret life and it scares him. When you think the world is way and it really is another way, it's not that far to wondering what else is true. Back the first time, after college, when he tried to know the world the way his father did, and then his self was Splitting, and the whole world rolled back like a curtain, roaring: Every shock is an echo and a memory of the first one. He likes rehearsed shocks and terrible stories and offending her with his body, but this isn't just a shock, it's a crack in the world. The world that he's holding together.

"Not the whole time," she tried to clarify. "And it's not as simple as that." Sean was angry. Behind the curtain she was a liar too, just like their Dad, just like everybody. And a fucking coward. In a world of liars. He felt cheated. Something dark blazed up on his sister's face: Vindication.

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The Big C

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