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Sally got off the phone with her doctor and told Duke “It’s back.”
Duke replied “Chemo worked before. You can do it again.”
“You don’t know how much that hurt. I would never go through that again.”
“But there’s no way that I can live without you. Isn’t there anything that we can do?”
“You shouldn’t worry about that. I’ve seen how some of the widow ladies look at you. You can find someone else.”
“Don’t even joke. If you won’t go back to chemo, at least let’s make your days as pleasant as possible.”
“How about going back to Central Oregon? We’ve had some really enjoyable times there. The ice caves, the lava formations, Newberry Crater, Fossil and the whole National Monument. You have some great childhood memories there Duke.”
The next day they enjoyed the scenery on US 26 passing Mt. Hood and through the changes in the forest until they got into the stark landscape east of the Cascade Mountains.
They visited old haunts and threw pumice into the water to watch it float, found some hot springs and fed the squirrels. The cheap burgers, fries and sodas they ate were not on their diet, but great comfort and nostalgia. Sally was slow and tired easily, but they did a little hiking.
On the way home Sally said, “This was best day I’ve had in years, but the pain is getting to the point I don’t know if I can handle it for the few remaining days.”
They looked at each other and an idea passed between them. A long marriage had produced the ability to communicate silently.
Sally asked “Are you willing to do it?”
As they crossed the bridge over the Deschutes River, Duke depressed the acceleration and cranked the steering wheel. They broke through the guardrail into the river. Duke couldn’t live without her.
Appears in Dark Dossier #56 and Down In The Dirt. How I feel about my editor.