HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM

-After his stroke Nick’s father used to think he knew Chinese.

-Not the same.

-Right. It’s more offensive.

-Easier managed.

-She’s still alive kid. Still knows who you are. You’ll have to readjust.

-The nurse said that when she accidently spilled her water she told her to fuck off like she’d just answered the phone. The sweetest fuck off she’d ever heard.

-It’s a switch flip. Knocked to tell her to yell when she’s fine and coo when she’s mad.

-Yeah but the volume I know what to do with. It would happen with age anyway. What it is is the way her face twists with normal conversation– she’s telling me about her garden, what to water, the sound levels notches too high and the total rage in her forehead. The shape of her mouth. If I don’t look away I feel like no matter what she’s saying she wants nothing more than to tear out my heart right there. Words completely impartial– lilies, noon– heated from some place of absolute fury. It’s backwards. I have to learn it all again.

-You have to take it. She’s still there.

-I know. I know. Makes fights a little easier. Hard to be angry when she’s telling you everything you’ve done wrong in the voice of nun.

-Sure. Absolutely. And when she says she loves you you never won’t hear it.

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