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Car Ride

by Laura Rodley

I pick up Deb from hospital, three days and one month away from her thirty-eighth birthday. While the nurse checks her out, Deb leans on her bed, pushes her head into her pillow, in extreme pain again, or, perhaps, only woozy from radioactive chemicals for her bone scan. She smiles, "Hi Laura baby," then, "You know I have cancer." "Yes, I know." She moves slowly, gracefully, carefully as though sloshed, but no drinks, not alcohol. Her skin is green, her shirt green, even the whites of her eyes are green. The tumor has blocked her bile duct, as yet undiscovered. I can't believe that they are letting her go without attending to it. Her thin wispy hair is shiny; she's let it grow long lately. I tell her it looks good. She pulls it out of the ponytail scrunge, weaves her body in her sitting position as though she has no bones, so loose, straightens up, says, "I'll have chemo, start right away, all my hair will fall out," sips constantly from her water cup, looks like she'll drop it, it's almost too heavy for her to hold. She can't carry much but looks strong. Her eyes are crinkly today, as she smiles a lot. Her hands pat her pillow, smooth it out as she listens as the sturdy, stone-like, very compact nurse with short grey hair, who reveals little, checks the facts, gets the Dr.'s appointment right. Deb exits in a wheelchair. She's so tall she's bursting out of it, all long legs; she should have been a dancer. On 112 South, someone's walking in the pouring rain holding tight to the handle of their opened huge yellow and black umbrella, glistening with raindrops. Watching her, Deb says, "Isn't that beautiful?"

Laura is one of two season's featured poets in the fall winter issue of "Aurorean," and has been published in the Massachusetts Review, Quick Fiction, Tiger's Eye, The National Audubon Society Magazine, Sanctuary, as well as the anthologies, Anthology of New England Writers, Crossing Paths and others. She has taught Creative Writing in public schools, sponsored by Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants. Her poetry has been read on WHMP, KVMR, 89.5 FM radio in Nevada City, California, and the NPR affiliated station, WAMC, Albany NY. She works as a freelance writer and photographer. She loves everything in the natural world.