The Curse

The Curse

When they finally tell you what it is, you call and say, “I’ve got the curse.” I’m unsure what you mean, whether this is a reference to an ancient way you referred to your monthly flow. But then you add, “It’s attacked my lymph nodes,” and I stop everything. Sit down. What you mean is there’s little time left, even though that isn’t part of our discussion that day.

I tell you I’ll fly to Naples this Friday, that I need a couple of days to ensure that there is order at work, and at home. I feel grateful I am freelance, a rare, impulsive feeling. More often than not, the freelancing has felt more burdensome; groveling for bookings, at director’s beck and call, haggling costs, fees and expense reports. But now, with the writer’s strike, I feel fortunate. And then, I feel selfish that I’m even considering these trivial things in addition to what you’ve just told me.

The next two days blur, I focus on tasks. Make necessary calls to most of my business connections, and take a hold for a job in August, a month away. Get my unruly hair cut. Weed the garden. Rarely do I let myself feel the magnitude of what is occurring: my only sister is dying. In fact, those two days are filled with an eerie, almost blissful state. My partner, Rodney, is naturally sweet, but he kicks it up a notch, subtly, so he won’t make me feel too awkward, too suspicious. A perfect pink peony from our garden, placed in a crystal vase I gave to him on our first anniversary. He opens the doors to our screened-in porch so I can hear the birds while we enjoy coffee. Even offers to take me to the airport, knowing it might inconvenience his courtroom schedule. I rescind, then book a driver we’d used on rare occasions.

It isn’t until I’m in the back of the limo, the airport looms ahead. Suddenly, I can’t swallow. My throat closes off. I open the window but still, I can’t swallow. I feel the tears splash my face and I know this is going to be unlike any trip I’ve taken.


About Robert Vaughan

Originally from NY, Robert leads week long National writing retreats at sites like Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Synergia Ranch, and EarthRise IONS. His poems and fiction are published in over 500 print and online magazines, such as Necessary Fiction, BlazeVOX, Los Angeles Weekly, Literary Orphans and Smokelong Quarterly. He is Editor-in-Chief at (b)OINK magazine and leads round- tables for Redoak Writing in Milwaukee. He is six times a Pushcart Prize Nominee and his fiction and poetry have won awards, including a Micro-Fiction runner-up (2012) and twice a finalist in the Gertrude Stein Fiction Award (2013-14). His books are: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps); Addicts & Basements (Civil Coping Mechanisms); RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press), and FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press).
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13 Responses to The Curse

  1. Andrea says:

    So sad. And being “a freelancer” sounds like it has it’s hi’s and it’s low’s all at the same time.

  2. Gloria says:

    Oh Crap I’m bawling. Love ya anyway.
    Love Mom

  3. Don says:

    Powerfully written, believable, and very sad. Nice job with this one. You are able to bring us in with such a short piece. Empathy galore!

  4. Beverly says:

    I was crying by the end of this one, a testament to your powerful writing. I also lost a sister to cancer about five years ago, and it made me remember what those last few months were like. Incidentally she lived in Florida also, just not Naples. Uncanny how life mirrors fiction and also the other way around.

  5. Dez says:

    A strong testament to family ties, and all that binds us through hard times. A wonderful, painful and sad glimpse into a brother and sister’s lives and the impact that this kind of message can give us. I read this first time through this morning, then again, just now. In bewteen the two times, I called my two sisters, just to tell them Happy Valentines Day and to also let them know just what they mean to me. Don’t wait until it’s too late! (They were both shocked, I have never called them before for Valentine’s Day!) Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Suzi says:

    Is this real? It’s too vivid to be anything but…..please reassure me it’s not.

  7. Angela says:

    So good, Robert! Indeed – in only a few paragraphs, I am completely involved in the story…I am the brother, and my throat starts closing up too. x@

  8. david says:

    this was so moving. Once again I am HOOKED and want more. you are such a good story teller.. and getting better and better.. I love this format. Short stories really do it for me. Thanks

  9. Shari says:

    Wow. That’s all I can say. I admire you for taking on such deep. and moving real- life conflicts. Thanks for blogging every day.

  10. Laurel Landis says:

    whoo love the opening, nice start Robert!

  11. tomfroehlich says:

    I cried. my uncle died last December and my trip to the airport was very similar. You hang on until you can fall apart.

  12. After reading your site, your site is very useful for me. I’ve bookmarked your site!

  13. gregory says:

    An all too likely occurrence as we creep into our early middle age. The ravages of time call some of us sooner than others but the “knowing” does not make the “happening” any more palatable. Great job capturing the essence of fear, uncertainty .

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