She looks in her bag for her deodorant. Finding it, she stands up and looks at herself in the mirror. I am standing in the bathroom doorway. She picks up her eyeliner and shades her eyes in a dark color. Her eyes are already dark and sunken in, but she accentuates them. I watch her as I have done the last few weeks.

I brought her home from the hospital two weeks ago. She says she'd rather be at home in these days. Her landlord made her put plastic on the couch. He doesn't want to catch death. He is ignorant.

She pulls her wig on and adjusts it. She takes it off. "It's not natural," she tells me. She wraps a scarf around her head. "After all, it's fall. It's chilly outside," she says as if to explain her need to wear the scarf.

We are going to the library at two o'clock to meet with her old book club friends. "We are going to be late if we don't leave now" It is twelve thirty, I tell her. She looks at me and I understand. She wants to drive around the city before we go to the library.

I escort her to the car and help her sit. These are little things that are tough for her to do these days. She is twenty-six but looks like she's sixty. I start the engine and pull into the road.

"Where to today, Ma'am?"


"Very well, indeed. Chip Chip Cheerio," I say in my best chauffeur-sounding voice.

She laughs, trying not to let me know that it hurts to do so.

"Something about Chelsea just makes it beautiful. When I first moved out here after high school, with Adam.." Her voice trails. "We used to, come out here, and watch, the sunset." She feels herself getting tired again and she shuts her mouth and stares out the window. "Something....about the buildings....with the sun behind them....yeah....We'll have to come out the sunset."

"We will, we will," I reassure her. We drive through the side streets until it is time for the book club meeting. I help her out of the car and up the old concrete stairs of the library. Steven, the most flamboyantly gay man I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, is waiting for us in the main lobby to lead us to the second floor. We take the elevator.

She takes a moment to re associate herself with the group. She introduces me and then settles down in a big comfy leather chair.

"So I didn't get a chance to read this month's book, The Lovely Bones, but, um, I chose to illustrate the title." She points to herself and kisses the air. The group laughs, uneasy, but understanding that she's trying to relieve the tension. They are all afraid to say anything because they all seem to know this will most likely be the last time they see her.

She cracks a smile at Steven and asks, "What? No Coca-Cola today? You really have changed since I saw you last, Steven!

"Ah, well the library banned sugary-sticky drinks."

"Oh. Well, glad to see your book still has cookie crumbs in the page binding."

"See, I didn't change."

The group laughs and comes back to their usual liveliness. Time flies and she is hugging each one of them, telling them her good-byes. Certain ones cry and others laugh to hold back tears. "Live well!" she shouts as we get in the car. She waves out the window and we head back to her apartment.

She sits at the table and watches me cook macaroni and cheese. This is her favorite food and she claims I make it best. I just follow the instructions on the Kraft Cheesy Shells box, but I don't argue with her. She lays her head down on her arms, folded across the table.

"Can I ask you something?" she says, stumbling for words.


"What are you...most..thankful for?"

"I don't know. Friends and family. You?"

"Hmmm," she ponders her own question. "Just waking up."

see : Wouldn't it be nice if I could remember her as a firework

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