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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 14 page 07


“Being rude is not the right way to approach this situation, Mona.”

“Why?” Mona said. “I have worse things to worry about than whether or not I’m offending you.”

“I’m here to help.”

“You’re here to talk,” Mona said.

Mona stood, raised her arm, and pointed at the patients one by one, but had to stop when her body, severely drained by the strain of her sudden shift in position, forced her back to her seat.

Recollecting herself, she said, “I think we have been given something special. I just realized that we have been given something that few are given.”

“What’s that?” one of the other patients said.

Mona looked at her. Her face was so emaciated that Mona felt this patient was surely one of the few who were given only days to live.

“We know we’re going to die,” Mona said.

“Everybody knows they’re going to die,” another person said, his face indicating he was given maybe three, possibly four months.

“That’s not true,” Mona said. “People may know of the fact they’re going to die, one day, far away from today, but it’s not real for them. It’s something that happens to people on TV, online, in other cities, in other countries, but not them, and definitely not soon. But for us, we know when we’re going to die. We’re not saddled with the fear of whether we’re going to die tomorrow, or fifty years from now, and we’re not saddled with the stress on what we have to get done during that huge gap of time.”

Now the therapist was the one squirming in her seat, crossing her feet, looking down at her black high heels before gazing at her painted, polished fingernails.

“At first, I was terrified at knowing exactly when I was going to die, but I’ve realized that knowing is actually an incredible thing. By knowing, I don’t have to plan for fifty years. I can plan for six weeks, eight if I'm lucky, and considering I’ve been diagnosed with a disease that is eating me from the inside out, being lucky is something I’m convinced I’m not.”

Some of the patients laughed at Mona’s last statement, a nervous, yet warm laughter.

“Think about it,” Mona said. “We don’t have to worry about paying off a mortgage; most of us won’t be alive long enough to make the first payment! We don’t have to worry about the tension of settling into new jobs. We don’t even have to worry about the tension of job interviews! We definitely don’t have to worry about retirement savings, that’s for sure. Some of you might say we have to worry about money for a funeral, but speaking for myself, I couldn’t care less if they toss me into a wood chipper; I’m dead, who gives a shit? And considering how we all look right now, being turned into mulch might be a step up!”

Mona couldn’t help but laugh at the audacity of her own words, but was comforted, encouraged by the pained laughter spilling out as even more of her poisoned peers joined in.