Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: It Could be Worse

He laughs. He laughs until he coughs, and coughs until he needs his kerchief. When he pulls it from his mouth it is stained yellow with a little pink. His teen grandson sees it and grimaces.

“It could be worse,” he tells his grandson, crumpling the kerchief.

“How could it be worse?” his grandson snaps. He snaps in the tone of a teenager who hasn’t rolled his eyes at all of his grandfather’s politics today. The tone of a teenager who hasn’t texted complaints about how this place smells when he was in the bathroom. The tone of a teenager who hasn’t left his cigarette butts smoldering outside the windows of old ladies with oxygen tanks.

“How could it be worse, Grandpa? Nana’s gone and you’re alone. Your cane has four feet because you’re so crippled. You shit in a bag. I see you cringe in pain whenever you think I'm not looking at you! How could it be worse, Grandpa?"

His grandson tenses, some part of him beneath the anger afraid he’s going to be punched. He has never hit his grandson – has never shown more aggression than pumping his arms during Sunday football. But his grandson tenses.

He does not hit his grandson. He grasps his four-legged steel cane and trembles his way to the door. He faces away as he opens it.

"How could it be worse?" He asks, his hand shaking on the doorknob and his smile steady. "You could be staying longer."

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