The Crossing – It’s Cancer *

Crossing. Short story. Words: 560

‘It’s cancer,’ the specialist said, peering over the top of his spectacles at me. ‘As we suspected.’

We? Not me. I hadn’t suspected.

‘…too far along… inoperable

What? I missed what he said. Should I ask him to repeat it? Do I want to hear what he said? No. NO. I don’t want to hear what he’s telling me.

‘… you’ve got a year…’

A year? How dare you... but what are you offering? A year of happiness? Or misery? Is that a full year? 365 days? Guaranteed? From when? When do I start this year? From today? Or how about next Tuesday? Whats the date next Tuesday?

‘… any further questions…’

Like what? Like, are you sure that’s my report you’re holding? You haven’t got me mixed up with another patient, have you? Given me the wrong diagnosis?

Sorry,’ you’re going to say any minute now. I thought you were someone else.

… payment of fees…

What if I never pay off my credit card? Never ever again. Shop till I drop and just let it mount up. For a whole goddam year? What’s the worst that could happen? They throw me in prison? Ha!

…have a nice day…’

Which day were you thinking would be nice? The first or the last?

Stepping outside, the warmth of the midday sun.

In the car, the familiarity of the sheepskin seat cover. The phone charger dangling from the dash. Sunglasses lying at the ready.

Why is everything still the same?

Hasn’t it all just changed?

The key sliding into the ignition. The engine starts.

Where to go?

What to do?

Shop, like Id planned? Would buying new undies be worth it now? Could my old one’s last out the year?

What else was on my to do list?

Fruit and vegetables. Ha! Bugger that. Let’s buy potato chips instead. Smothered in salt. Why should I care?

Maybe I should?

Is there a magic cure? One he failed to mention? Should I go back and ask?

Pawpaw smoothies perhaps? Confessing your sins? Making amends with those you hate? God! Could I seriously do that? No. I think I’d rather die.

‘Home,’ I say, backing out. Nearly hitting a passing car. Their horn blasts.


Is that me swearing?

Give me a break,’ I whimper. I’ve only got a year to live.

Is that what I’d be doing? Living? Every day of this precious year I’ve been given?

Or is there a line crossed when the living would change to dying?

Will I know it, when it comes?

Feel it?

Be ready for it?

Pulling into the driveway. I lean forward to press the remote.

Why don’t I leave the car in the driveway?

In the middle.

On some obscure angle.

And just leave it there. All day if I want. A couple of days. Hell. Who cares?

And don’t lock it. What does it matter anymore?

‘No. Lock it. I need it for 364 more days.’

At my front door. Unlocking it. Feeling shaky. I push it open.

Sink onto the cold tiled floor. Lay there. Feeling the chill.

Where do I die?

Here? In this home full of memories? Babies. Children. Birthday parties. Sweet sixteen. Leaving home. Empty nest. Heartache.

Help… I’m lost.

‘Tiggy,’ I call, propping myself against the wall. Pathetic. Needing.

‘Where’s my Tiggy…


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