Since 1928

by Suzanne Samples

CW: mentions of fire, cancer, and addiction

We drove straight into the wildfire, the flames strengthened by my dry sense of humor and your cigarette addiction. 

The mess had been burning all summer; my diagnosis changed, and Marlboros turned out to be the best of your bad habits. 

I was learning Spanish, doing new things. I didn’t need antidepressants, you told me. This fiery adventure would help me feel better, you said. 

No entiendo, I responded. I don’t understand. 

Temperatures hadn’t dipped below 100 since we showed up in Washington, and the romantic evergreen eternity we expected turned into more of a high desert horror show. 

Me: Still dying, just of a rarer tumor than I thought, the kind of cancer only five people were known to have, a mass that might make my new doctor famous if I joined all her clinical trials. 

You: Not listening because you’re worried about what fishing bait we needed and what girls you would jack off to on your phone screen after I fell asleep. 

We ignored all the warning signs on the back road. You pushed the pedal harder, and we sunk deeper into the blazing forest. Your black Honda protected us at first, its steel fire-resistant, but we came here to put an end to everything, so you drove faster and further into the flames. 

You had trouble with vulnerability and could never say you loved me. 

I was too busy dying to miss the red flags, but this made me the perfect target to fall for splitting the cost of a U-Haul and moving across the country during the hottest summer in Washington since 1928. 

Me: not desiring to participate in clinical trials, not caring if my doctor becomes a star in her field, not wanting more surgeries, chemo, or radiation.  

You: thinking you’re a piece of shit and hating yourself. 

You never looked more handsome than you did when the inferno started singeing your graying beard. 

Hasta pronto, I said, stealing a Marlboro and lighting it from a stray flame. Until then. 

From the author:

“I am on level 5,751 of Candy Crush.”

Leave a Reply