Family

She walked into the diner looking a little disheveled from the rain. It only took a second for her to spot him sitting in one of the booths by the windows. He had been watching the door, waiting, and waved her over.

“Hi, John. It’s good to see you.”

He grunted an acknowledgement.

“Hi, Kathy. It’s good to see you, too.” She was clearly trying to lighten the mood by substituting words for his lack of a greeting. His mood was not lightened.

“Okay…” She sat down across from him.

A waitress brought over a blueberry muffin and a cup of coffee.

“I know you like their muffins.” His voice was gruff.

“Uh… yeah. I did. But I am gluten-free now.” She smiled an apology at the waitress who sighed and took it away.

“So why did you want to meet?”

“Can’t I just want to see my brother?”

“You can. But you haven’t. So why now?”

“Now wait a minute. That’s not fair. You made it pretty clear last time that you didn’t want to see me.”

He glared at her but left his objection unspoken.

She looked down at her coffee and sighed.

“Anyway, I didn’t come here to fight.”

“So…?” He poured as much irritation and impatience as he could into that one word.

“Mom’s sick.”

He continued to stare at her.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t meant to blurt that out…”

“Do you mean mom’s sick like she always is? For attention’s sake? Because I already knew that.”

“Jesus, John. No. She’s really sick.”

“Is she dying?”

“What is wrong with you? Could you sound any more callous?”

“Fine. What’s wrong with mom.” There still was no hint of concern in his voice.

“It’s cancer. They say she might only have a year.”

“Might?”

“Well, they’re hoping chemo will work and put it into remission.”

“Wow. I bet she’s loving all the attention.”

“Fuck you. I never should have bothered.”

He stood up. “No, you shouldn’t have. Call me in a year and tell me how things went.” He threw a ten dollar bill on the table and walked out.

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