“Look,” Jessica said, her shadow falling over Leo’s body, “I know you thought this would all turn me into one of those lovey-dovey wives that bawl their heads off about this sort of crap happening. And then go onto write some stupid memoir about how sad, how miserable and worried they were the whole time–“

“You don’t even know how to write,” Leo replied.

“What the hell are you talking about? Are you calling me illiterate?”

“No. You just can’t write very well, that’s all. I’ve seen what you did in college.”

“That’s off-topic.” Jessica snatched both pillows from the side of the bed Leo wasn’t on and held them in a dangerous hover over his head. “Now. Get. Up. Or I’m going to have to make you.”

Leo rolled his eyes. “We’re already going to be fifteen minutes late. Why don’t we cancel and reschedule?”

“Because you promised me that you would get them to remove that damn thing from you before it spreads to the rest of you. I mean, be glad you got hit with it down there instead of, oh, I don’t know, your lungs.”

Shaking his head, Leo replied, “See, sometimes I think this is what Freud must’ve meant when he was talking about castration anxiety.”

“You have got to be kidding me.”

Leo pushed himself up so that he was facing Jessica at about the same height. Leo halfway-standing was almost as tall as Jessica standing all the way up. “I’ll be sure to say the same thing in a couple decades when your mammograms turn up wrong.”

Jessica and Leo exchanged simple stares that refused to communicate anything to one another. Then Jessica, still holding the pillows, walked to the bedroom’s doorway. “Guess I’ll be putting these on the couch.”

Before Jessica left the room, Leo asked her to stay. “Just let it grow,” he said, closing his eyes. “Think of it like a plant. Plants are good, right? You wouldn’t want a plant to stop growing, to stop expanding. Would you?”

“Pretty sure what you’ve got is not a plant.”

“It’s a metaphor.”

Jessica glared. One of her legs was starting to twitch from her anger. “You know that journal my counselor said I should start? One of these days, hell, maybe today, my entry is going to be this story where an idiotic dude sits around on his bed hoping that his own body kills himself. Because he wanted to be a frigging martyr. Because this dude did not realize that certain people around him were losing their minds at every waking moment at the thought that through his sheer stubbornness and selfishness, he was–“

“Would you shut up? I told you before. Just stop. I could be fine. You don’t know anything. You can’t write. You can’t write what happens to me.” He turned over in the bed, away from Jessica. “Now,” he said, “just let me–“

______________________________________________________________________________

Follow me on Twitter: @ethan_nelsonwrt