“So, what did the doctor tell you this morning,” he asked his wife, struggling to hide an ugly scowl on his thin, dark features.

A sudden wave of sadness filled her mind as a single tear tried to fall from one tired eye, but didn’t. The room seemed unnaturally quiet as the woman prepared to answer her husband. She searched for and found the strength to respond. “The cancer has spread.”

She could feel the wheels turning within his narrow, cruel mind. From across the living room, her husband’s negative energy crept upon her like an ominous black cloud. Shielded by a wall of Sobriety, Recovery, and other strengths her husband couldn’t possibly understand, the woman smiled, her patience nearly unlimited.

[Here comes the question], she thought. Her body language didn’t show a hint of emotion. She didn’t have to wait long for his inquiry.

“So, what are you planning on using for pain?”

“The doctor told me once it gets really bad, I’ll need to take something strong.”

“Strong . . . strong like what?”

“Pain medication. Yes, narcotic pain medication.”

She could see his facial expressions beginning to transform. What had started as indifference and irrigation now resembled a murderous rampage barely restrained behind the snap of a finger.

The man responded, “you know you can’t take something addictive. You’re an addict, damnit! When are you going to learn?”

Not a hint of emotion touched the woman’s features. She’d expected her husband to respond as he did. Knowing he’d continue speaking if she didn’t do so herself, she added, “it doesn’t matter any longer. I’m going to die soon. Who gives a damn about dependency at the end? At this point, it’s all temporary. I’d prefer not to suffer more than necessary between now and when I pass.”

“You haven’t learned a thing. When’s the last time you spoke to your sponsor?”

“This morning, immediately following my appointment.”


“She’s promised to go to the funeral.”

Joseph Shanklin

August 30, 2022

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