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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 14 page 05

fiction

Terminal

by Jonathan R. Rose

Mona squirmed in her chair, constantly crossing and uncrossing her feet, glancing at her worn out shoes, pants, and shirt. She stared at her fingernails, studying them, sighing at their deterioration, their frailty. Repulsed by the pallid tint of her nails, she looked up and scanned the dimly lit room. She saw people who looked just like her, their faces just as detached, just as gaunt, just as defeated. All of them were either bald or balding, except one. The eerie similarities she shared with everybody in the room only heightened the stark disparities they all shared with the one person there who looked nothing like them.

She fixated on that person, that anomaly. With a head full of thick, wavy hair, wearing an expensive outfit, her face covered in make-up, the woman who clearly didn’t belong was smiling constantly, talking incessantly, and making as much eye contact as she could with those who looked nothing like her.

Mona refocused her attention on the people sitting in the chairs around her. Every single one of them suffered from the same disease as herself. Every single one of them was given a finite amount of time they had left. Most were told months, some were told weeks, a few were told days, none were told years. Every one of them was told that there was no hope, no chance, that no miracle was going to magically arrive and save them. Every one of them was terminal. None of this applied to the woman with the full head of hair, fancy clothes, and make-up. Yet despite not having to face such a grave reality, she seemed to have more to say about how to handle it than those who did.

“I know how much pain you’re all suffering,” she said.

“Really?” Mona blurted out.

“What was that, Mona?”

“How do you know how much pain we’re all suffering?” Mona said.

“I apologize, Mona. I didn't mean to upset you. I’m only here to —”

“To assist us with the transition of death, yes, yes, I know. We all know that. You keep telling us that. You keep pummeling that stupid word into our heads.”

<CONT...>