Nonfiction by Michael Somers
Artwork "Vent de nostalgie" by Pierrick Gaumé

Jason threw the stone angel on the table. "Here," he said.  "I don't want it anymore."

I watched the angel slide and spin to just past the center of the table.  Jason leaned against the kitchen door, arms folded in mute anger.  I shook my head slightly.

"Don't you have anything to say?" Jason asked. 

I couldn't think of anything.  It's not that my throat was gripped, that my voice was paralyzed.  Or that I was being deliberately difficult.   I finally heard myself say, "I got her at Hallmark."

"So?" Jason answered.

I had seen the angel-shaped worry stones in the store months before I bought her.  Every time I went to Hallmark, I'd look at the angels, turn them in my hands.  One day, they weren't in their usual spot at the front of the store.  I went down every aisle, finally finding her toward the back of the store mixed in with the clearance items.  The box said her name was 'Hope.'  She was only the size of a key, dressed in painted blue and white robes with blonde curls and upturned lips.  I had wondered if anything that small could give anyone hope, especially Jason.  

He still leaned against the door.  I glanced up, caught the tense line of Jason's lips.  I wondered why I had ever wanted to kiss them. "Jesus, you are a piece of work, you know that," Jason said.

I took in the angel again.  Her head pointed at Jason, her feet at me.  Most of her paint had been rubbed off; the brownish-gray stone was particularly evident between her prayer-clasped hands and her feet.  I wanted to believe Jason’s thumb must have slid back-and-forth hundreds—thousands—of times while an IV dripped chemo into his arm.  That his thumb had smoothed her out while he was zapped with radiation.  That he rubbed her on nights he couldn’t sleep because of nausea.  That he rubbed her when small clumps of his hair would fall out.  That he rubbed her when he needed me, when he was scared.

"I got her for you," I finally said, eyes squarely on the angel.

"I don't want it anymore, Mike."

"Oh." I closed my eyes.  "I see."

"Im not in treatment anymore, and I don't want to be reminded of it every time I see the damn thing." Jason’s voice rose in edged anger.  "What more do you want?  I took it with me like you wanted, okay?  But it's over now.  End of subject."

I slowly opened my eyes.  I looked up at Jason's lips.  They were turned down now, a sign he wanted to cry but wouldn't.  "Have you had a check-up lately?  Isn't it time for your six-month?"

"Didn’t you hear me?  I don't want to talk about it." 

"I just want to know."

"Fine,” Jason said flatly.  "I'm fine."

"This is first time you've made it six months without the cancer coming back."

"Yeah." Water dripped from the faucet. "You should get that fixed," Jason said, glancing over at the sink. "It's been doing that for a few weeks now."

"I know.  I've got new washers for it," I said, wincing as the sun glared off the faucet.

"Look, I should get going." Jason moved to open the door.  "I just wanted to . . ."

"I know."  I continued to wince at the glaring faucet as the door opened and closed, as Jason's car started and backed down the driveway, as water drips slapped against stainless steel.

I reached for the angel, eyes never wavering from the faucet.  I tossed it to the left of the table and listened to it thud against the wall of the trashcan, rustling until it settled.

Michael Somers is an English instructor at Delta College. His recent works have appeared in The Tridge.

© Michael Somers, 2009