I feel for the guy, I really do. He needs to keep himself busy so he doesn’t dwell on what’s happening with Claire. I tried doing something like that after she told us. I decided it was a good idea to take up running. Jim found me an hour later, two blocks away from our house screaming about how no one in their right mind should run unless someone with a gun was chasing them. Even then, I might just let the guy shoot me. Running is dumb.

“Carter, stop diddling the applesauce cups and come help us fill out this form,” Drew tells him, waving the piece of paper up in the air. “I have more yummy goodness in my pants and pudding cups to fill.”

“Oh, Jesus,” Jim mutters next to me. Still, it doesn’t deter him from going over to Drew, grabbing one of the pudding cups and an offered mini bottle of vodka that Drew just pulled out of his back pocket.

I watch as Carter goes over to Claire’s side, leans down and whispers something in her ear before kissing her on the head and disappearing out the door with Jim and Drew. This is the first time the two of us have been alone since we all got the news. It’s also the first time I have no idea what to say to my best friend. Everything that runs through my mind right now is completely stupid.

“So, this kind of sucks, huh?”

“At least your oncologist is cute.”

“Would it be wrong to ask if they have some extra morphine I can use?”

“Sorry if I can’t stop staring at your boobs.”

“Stop staring at my boobs,” Claire deadpans, her eyes still closed on the pillow.

“How the hell did you know I was staring at your boobs?”

She opens her eyes and raises one brow at me. “Because the lump in there has a special homing beacon that can sense boob ogling.”

I cross my arms over my chest and roll my eyes. “You are being entirely too flippant about all of this.”

“What do you expect me to do, Liz? Scream and cry about the unfairness of it all? What good will that do me? Do you think the cancer will be like ‘Well, shit. If she thinks it’s unfair then we obviously need to skedaddle.’”

“Did you just say skedaddle?”

Claire nods her head. “Yes, yes I did. Now quit being a pussy, come over here and sit by me.”

She pats the bed next to her. “It’s not contagious.”

“I know it’s not contagious, asshole,” I tell her as I gently climb into her bed and lean back against the pillows next to her.

We don’t say anything, each of us staring up at the ceiling. I want to tell her how sorry I am, but that’s so fucking cliché that I can’t even form the words. I want to reassure her that whatever she needs, I’ll be here for her, but what the hell could I give her right now to make this all better? I don’t have a magic wand that will take this stupid fucking disease out of her body. In less than an hour, she’s going into an operating room to have a double mastectomy for stage 2 breast cancer. I have nothing that will make any of this go away.

A half hour later, the boys walk back into the room, snickering and shoving each other, clearly a little tipsy from pudding shots.

“What did you guys do? How many of those cups of pudding did you have?” Claire questions.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Zoltron,” Jim replies with a laugh.

Drew chokes on his own laugh, bending over at the waist.

“Zoltron? Do I even want to know what you three idiots are talking about?” I ask as Jim walks over and hands me the questionnaire the nurse asked Claire to fill out.

I grab it from his hand and scroll through the questions, along with the answers the boys filled in.

“Question number one: Do you have any nicknames?” I read aloud.

Claire leans forward to look over my shoulder, reading the answer that they wrote down. “My full name is Sheba, Princess of the Night, but I will only answer to Zoltron.”

The boys start giggling like fools from the doorway.

“Keep going,” Drew says in between laughs.

I sigh, moving on to question number two. “Do you have any hobbies?”

I feel Claire’s rumble of laughter next to me as she reads the answer. “My hobbies include running a meth lab in my basement, throwing down gang signs, mailing underwear to members of Congress and breeding ferrets.”

I quickly scan the rest of the questions and answers.

What is your favorite color? Clitoris. A combination of clear, teal, orange and island blue.

What is your favorite song? The Silent Song. I could sing it for you, but you wouldn’t be able to hear it. Only alpacas and very rare mice have the ability to hear The Silent Song.

Do you have any children? rufus, joseephus, artie choke, woody bush, pat may wiener, meowy, boopsie and bob.

What’s your favorite movie? It’s a tie between “The Anal girls of tobacco road: vagina slimes” and “sex starved fuck sluts #22: stinky white women.” The well-developed plot and range of emotions portrayed in vagina slimes far outweighs that of stinky white women, but at the same time, the complexity in the cinematic quality of stinky white women should not be overlooked.

The questionnaire goes on for two pages, each answer they wrote down worse than the last. The only thing stopping me from throttling the idiot men we married is the fact that Claire thinks it’s funny and it’s taken her mind off of the fact that her boobs are killing her. Those little bumps of fat sitting on her chest are literally sucking the life out of her. I keep running through every single memory of the two of us together. Every time we’ve made each other laugh, cry, snort, puke, trip down stairs or scream in frustration. Thirty years of going through everything together. I can’t imagine living the rest of my life without her and I have no idea how to find the humor in any of this bullshit. We have so much more living to do, she and I. We have a business to run together, the wedding of our children to plan and future grandchildren to corrupt.

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