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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 14 page 09

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“I don’t have the answers,” she said. “I think we should each focus on doing whatever we can with the little bit of time and the little bit of energy we have left.”

There was a collective groan from every one of the patients.

“Now you sound just like her,” another patient said, pointing at the therapist, whose head was lowered, her eyes focused on the floor, calm and quiet, waiting.

“I just thought —”

“Why don’t you just shut up?” another patient said, “I’m here to feel better. I’m not here to be pressured to do things that will only cause me more pain.”

Mona couldn’t understand why those she believed she was speaking for, those she thought she was motivating, encouraging, had so abruptly and so callously attacked her. She glanced at the therapist and saw the therapist’s head rise. She looked at the rest of the patients, and saw their eyes, wan and empty, focus directly on the therapist, anxious to hear what she had to say.

“We shouldn’t blame Mona for saying what she feels,” the therapist said. “That is what this group is about. And while her words may have been misguided, we should appreciate her honesty.”

Mona attempted to stand, but with all the energy she used over the last few minutes, she was compelled to remain seated, forced to listen, forced to endure.

“I think we should focus again on the transition that you are all going to undergo, some sooner than others. You should concentrate on being comfortable, on being at peace in your last days. You should strive to die with dignity,” the therapist continued.

After watching the patients nod in unison, Mona, despite her pain telling her not to, stood up and made her way to the door. Every step was laborious, draining, but she made it. Gratified at the small success, she grabbed the knob, turned it, heard the door click, and opened it. Before walking through the doorway, she looked back at the patients, none of whom even noticed her leaving, for their attention remained fixed on the therapist.

Mona shook her head, left the office, and slammed the door, hard, harder than she believed she was capable, and as she made her way out of the building, thinking about what she was going to do, say, and feel in her final weeks, a smile came to her face.

Jonathan R. Rose's novel Carrion is available on Amazon. His Facebook fan page is https://www.facebook.com/JonathanRRose.