“How would you prefer to do it? Tell me. I’ll do it your way.”
We sat at a table near the window.
“What is this bullshit, Rob? We’ve been on this trip together since, what, fourth grade? This is a joke, right?”
“I’m breaking up with you, Henry.”
“We’re not dating. I mean, you’re a hot guy and all, but I like girls.”
“I’m not kidding, and I’m not here to banter. This is serious.”
He looked across the table for a long moment, figuring me out. I felt sweat prickle under the suit I’d worn for this.
“What the hell happened to your hair?”
“I’m on the wrong side of forty, Henry, and so are you. Some of us lose our fucking hair. Stay on the subject.”
“Did Dana put you up to this? What, I’m a bad influence on the little Rosenthals? Jesus.”
“Dana doesn’t even know about this. It’s me. I’ve blocked you on Facebook, too. I don’t want to know what bar you’re at, what college girl you’re screwing, or what fucking video game you’re playing.” I ignored the hurt on his face blossoming into rage. “You need to grow up, Henry. You don’t need girls. You need a grown woman who loves you and calls you on your bullshit and makes you eat a goddamned vegetable once in awhile. You need to get serious about your life, which is halfway over, if not more.”
Henry stared. “What are you, my mother? I don’t even know you anymore.”
I stood up, taking my untouched coffee. “True. Goodbye, Henry. Good luck. I hope you figure it out.”
“Fuck you, Rosenthal.” He turned toward the window. I thought he might be crying.
I dropped my coffee in the nearest trash on the way to the car. I could barely stand the smell of it anymore, let alone a sip. I pulled myself up into the passenger seat of Dana’s Pilot.
“I still don’t get why you’re doing this to him,” she said. “You love that idiot.”
I snorted. I was late for chemo, but we both knew that didn’t matter. “Just imagine. A few months from now, that drama queen is going to be in some bar, crying into his beer to anyone who will listen about his best buddy who died of cancer. How I never even told him. How I pushed him away to spare him the pain. And he’ll intone the last words I ever to said to him. He’ll love the attention. He’ll probably get at least one sympathy fuck out of it. But he’ll repeat it over and over until it sinks in. It’s my last gift to him.”
“Now who’s a drama queen?”
We pulled out of the parking lot. “I guarantee you’ll be dancing at his wedding within a year. Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet your next husband there.”
This is the second post of flash fiction week III. Tomorrow: Matt Ellen.
Julie Goldberg blogs at Perfect Whole. She is working on her first novel.