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The Last Seduction

The music therapist's voice was flat, he complained afterwards; the art therapist suggested scrapbooking; the poetry therapist used the word simile for Chrissakes--and with the departure of each hospice worker, Lily feels more alone, trapped like a bear on a floating mattress (she jots this on the back of a prescription bag, then crosses it out)--no, boxed in this house with him like a pair of marzipan cupcakes (she crosses this out, too), and gradually the arc of their days and nights converges into a flatline of identical hours, until one night, when it is late and there is nothing on television, and he can't even lift his hand to king her checker, he announces his intent to make love to her, and maybe that's a wink or maybe it's only a squirt of morphine, that brief fluttering of lid just before he begins to fill her with words … see, he tells her, a sparsely furnished room … a space heater … a window overlooking snow-covered taxis … remember? … picture patience, if you can … imagine slow … think about silk … and saltwater … and secret scars: and his memory lures her to the edge of him--even now he can do this to her--until she feels the familiar whoosh as she falls back into his center; and later, while the sun comes up and he is sleeping, she continues to sit in her usual chair, grateful for the phhfff of his exhaled breath, watching the measured drip of his IV, and in a while she will get up to take a shower, in a while she will bring in the newspaper, pour a glass of orange juice, then scribble this on the lid of an old shoebox: like carrying tea in a seashell.

©Stephanie Harrison, appeared first in Hayden's Ferry Review