By Rob Tomaro

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Finkelstein put his hand on Jerry’s shoulder.

“That’s all I can tell you.”

Jerry could barely button the buttons on his shirt.  His fingers felt like hot dogs and the buttons felt as small as tic tacs.  He had come to trust the doctor and had begun to believe he could maybe fix it.  Finkelstein snapped the metal clipboard closed and looked at him with big, sad eyes. He hated this part. He always hated this part.

“I’m sorry, Jerry.”

Jerry bumped into the wall on his way out of the examination room and two nurses saw it.  He looked at them sheepishly, then realized that embarrassment, along with a whole host of other things, was something he wouldn’t be bothered with much longer.

What was it, anyway?  Embarrassment seemed suddenly so abstract, so arbitrary.  Why feel one thing when you can just as easily feel another?   Great, he thought, wish I’d had that revelation sometime during my twenty years of therapy.  Well, it’s never too late, he chuckled, as he turned up his collar and stepped out onto Prince Street.

Then, he stopped. Well, actually it is, bubbie. It is too late.

He jiggled the ice around in his glass, tried to tune out the band, and attempted to recall exactly what Finkelstein said.…

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Show Time

By Kathryn Paulsen

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Somehow I thought he’d want to do
different things from what they used to do
together here.  But no, a show,
a big Broadway musical show,
is his choice for tonight.  Yes,
there are tickets.  I was half-hoping not.
And wishing in vain that it was May, not December,
and we were buying for three.

That last spring night we had clear hope
we watched Guys and Dolls in her hospital room.
Though we’d missed the beginning, and her favorite song,
we watched till the end.
She nodded off,
as she always did at home before the tube,
head on his shoulder,
but nodded back in,
to say, surprised, in her everyday voice,
“It’s good,” letting us believe
she was on the mend.

After that, she had just three days more,
and only one in which
she could say a word.

Fifty years, Dad would say,
with wonder in his voice,
that after a whole half-century
he couldn’t have kept her with him
for the whole show.

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