The Big C
Two for the Road

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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"I love you. And you're an asshole."

She rescued her mother from the fireplace and looked at Sean, who smiled. On his way out the door he flipped their father off, and made impolite conversation, and was gone.

The Mississippi is mighty but where it starts in Minnesota, it's not very impressive. It doesn't rush. It doesn't demand. They sat on a blanket, under the moon, with two time capsules.

1982, when he packed it tight. Sean was excited, he could barely remember what was inside. "This is gonna be, like, totally rad!" his sister joked, and he laughed. Inside they found a joint, and a lighter, and a Polaroid. Sean's sister was unimpressed. If she'd ever buried a time capsule, he knew, it would be hermetically sealed against the elements, waterproof, windproof, fireproof, buried in a whole that was perfectly square and marked with a rock she'd polished to shining.

She held the world together, in her way. He preferred to live there.

The Polaroid, his sister finally realized, was of a blowjob in 1982. As seen from above. All his favorite things. She squealed and threw it back at him, but he laughed. And so she laughed. He thanked her for defending him, and he refused to look him in the eye. "You think I'm amaaaazing," he teased, and his sister stood up suddenly. Relief from sitting on the scar. He followed her to the water's edge.

"She'll be in New Orleans by Monday," Sean joked. "Covered in British oil."

They stared down at the water and said goodbye to their mother.

Sean doesn't want to be cremated. He wants to be left out, eaten by coyotes; he wants to become part of the world and nature forever, finally, with no fear and no division. To be everywhere at once. "I know logically it makes sense to be cremated? But I just can't get past the fact that you're being burned, and how painful that would be," she said, cracking him up. "If by some fluke you could... Feel it. I don't know," she said, "Maybe burial. I don't know," she said, "It's hard to decide."

He felt something coming but he ignored and just looked at her, curtain trembling. "It's not like you're gonna die tomorrow," he said. His sister had been dying since she was born, it wasn't a surprise to know she'd thought so hard about this. It wouldn't bother her quite so much if she didn't need to take care of everyone else, so she apologizes.

"I'm sick, Sean."

Aren't we all?

"I have cancer."

Sean shakes his head. The little shocks that remind you of the big one. She holds the world together.

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The Big C

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