The Big C
Two for the Road

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Their father shook his head; her eyes teared up. She was actually confused. She was forty-two. "What do you want me to say, honey? You come here, tell me you're divorced?" Separated. Unofficially, at that. "If you want to achieve things, you better start planning for your old age."

Her face went soft, then hard. "I'll try and keep that in mind." He went back to his game; she talked to herself, too. "I thought this would go differently." He was barely listening. "You should lower your expectations," he said, and she shook her head: All she had expected was a conversation with her father. There's so much left to do.

"This could be the last time I see you," she said. She tried to tell the truth, but he wasn't even looking. "Easy," he grumbled. "I'm not that old."

Everything she said, it sounded needy to her ears. Everything she said was code for something else that he couldn't hear: "It's not always about you, Dad." And: "We drove a long way to visit you, Dad." Sean's sister imagined his face as she was talking, the sour way his beautiful face would go if he heard this tone in her voice. Daddy's little goody-two-shoes, buying his love with passive-aggression and the same lectures she gives everybody else.

Their father started to get annoyed; he began to be mean. She felt sick. All she wanted, she clarified for him and for herself, was an indication that he was happy to see her. "And that you'd be sad if I were gone." He put on a voice, not quite mincing, not downright nasty, and gave her what she said she wanted. It was hard.

"So what if I had high expectations? So what? At least one of us had dreams for me." The curtain pulled back, tears in her eyes, she realized that her brother was right. She stood between him and the baseball game, begging him to see her. "No one was allowed to dream in this house. The only dream Mom ever had was to go to New Orleans. You killed that for her, and now she's in the fireplace!"

She yelled until she couldn't stand it, and then she parked herself at his knees, looking up at her Daddy, and tried to make him hear her.

"And do you know what the sad thing is? You have a great family. You don't even know them. Sean is so much more amazing than you could ever comprehend. He can pull an entire meal out of a dumpster. And more than that: He's honest." More than her, she thought. Sean stood in the hallway, listening. Impressed. "And he cares," she said, her voice breaking. "Which is more than I can say for you. I came here to tell you something," she said. She didn't know what it was until she said it:

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The Big C

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