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[personal profile] sekritomg

It’s November and he’ll die soon.

They’re not connected, unless they are. Stan is not sure, but it seems plausible, given the way Kyle’s health has diminished since August, when he last accompanied Stan on the short walk from home up to Sloan’s Lake Park. It was a stupid thing to do and Stan regretted it. They’d walked over there as a consequence of a stupid anniversary ritual, whereby every other year they traded off deciding how to spend the day. Stan usually picked something outdoorsy, a hike or a boat ride or a picnic. It was not his year to pick but Kyle had insisted on walking over to the lake. “I want to do something you’ll enjoy,” he said, deferring the fancy dinner or spa treatment he would have otherwise selected.

“Why?” Stan had asked. “Kyle, no, it’s not my year.”

“Well, I don’t want the last thing I pick to be something you’ll hate.”

“I never hate the things you pick” – though Stan never really loved them.

Kyle had pushed that, “We should go up to Sloan Lake.” It seemed like a fine compromise, except in better times they walked there several times a week, usually with the dog.

Stan had put the leash on and stuffed some empty newspaper bags into his pockets and asked, for the last time, if Kyle was really sure he wanted to walk three-quarters of a mile there and another three-quarters mile back.

“Stan, yes!” he’d said. “I want to go, stop asking!”

It had actually been an annoying walk for Stan. There was the dog, who wanted to charge ahead toward every hydrant at the end of the block; then there was Kyle, who sort of dragged himself up the road, breathing noisily. He was so like his mother: “Just go ahead, don’t wait for me. I’ll just catch up.”

“I’m not leaving you blocks behind me.”

“I’ll be fine.”

It was clear from Kyle’s sunk eyes and sallow skin that he would definitely not be fine.

“I’m not an invalid, I’ll be okay.”

Stan hated that shit, hated being told it was an insult to Kyle’s dignity to go on ahead. He had done it, because the last thing he wanted on their anniversary was a fight. It was their eighteenth. Kyle often said he wanted to make it to twenty. It seemed so far away; Stan wondered, why not twenty-five, thirty, fifty? If two years, then why not dozens? Three months later Stan would find himself sitting in a drab room at the University of Colorado Medical Center, enduring a clinical lecture from some 20-something intern about how it was not time for a conversation about whether to restart dialysis. Stan is not a scientific thinker but he wants credit for having kept up with things to the extent that he has managed. It sounds to him like the intern is describing a comorbidity of both chronic and acute renal failure, but Stan is not sure if these things can happen at the same time and he doesn’t really know if it matters. It probably doesn’t, unless Kyle wakes up. In any case, this makes him one of only seven percent of people whose transplant is rejected within a year.

“Sorry.” The intern is taken aback at having been interrupted, but Stan doesn’t care: “Was it really necessary to tell me that?”

If this kid has dealt with dying people’s spouses before, Stan wonders what kind of insensitive shit those people had to endure.

“It’s just a fact,” he says, though at least he blushes stupidly so Stan knows he knows he fucked up. In any case, he awkwardly shuffles his feet and says, “We’ll keep monitoring the patient throughout the night, and we can discuss dialysis again at the end of the week if there hasn’t been a change in the patient’s, um — status.”

“He has a name,” says Stan, “his name is Kyle.”

“I know, and I’m — I’m sorry.”

Stan isn’t sure if he is angry or advance-grieving or hopeful or what. All he knows is that he would rip out both of his kidneys and give them to Kyle if they would have done poor Kyle any good, but they wouldn’t, and in the nearly 40 years since Kyle first received a donor kidney, Stan has had to deal with some really heavy shit. August was a reprieve, but before that there was March, when Kyle laid down on the floor in their kitchen and sobbed that he couldn’t do dialysis anymore and if he didn’t get a donor soon he didn’t know if he would be able to go on. And then Stan found himself on the floor, too, and he was also crying, begging Kyle not to talk like that because if he left Stan alone in this house with their dog and their unused second and third bedrooms and two cars and an entire extra wardrobe of unflattering ill-fitted mohair sweaters, it would be the end of Stan, too. But now it’s two weeks before Thanksgiving and there is snow on the ground in Denver, and though it’s uncertain whether Kyle will wake up Stan knows that even if Kyle doesn’t, he won’t just drop dead himself. Kyle never filed a living will or last orders of any kind, since their marriage is legal and Stan is perfectly disposed to make decisions. He knows exactly what Kyle wants him to do in this situation.

When you marry someone with a chronic illness, Stan figures, you have to live with the knowledge that something might go wrong at any time.

Date: 2014-11-22 04:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
even though this is short, the way you deal with time in it is so effective, it made me want to reread this a bunch to piece together what's happened to stan and kyle here. and since it's stan's perspective it feels like he's stuck revisiting past experiences, regretting how things went, and there's so much sorrow and grimness in the tone you've written this in. i feel like this is hitting me so much deeper than anything i've read in a while. i think it's perfect just the way it is, the way you finish it with that horrifying implication. i want to bundle this up and cry onto it

Date: 2014-11-26 04:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Man, I didn't mean for this to be so sad, but I hope it's at least a productive kind of sad, which is often how I feel about Stan and Kyle, go figure. I'm really glad the time shit is effective because if not it would be totally ruined this whole thing. So, thank you! For the comment, and also for encouraging me to post this.

Date: 2014-11-26 03:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've missed reading your work. Glad I finally had a chance to get on this.

Date: 2014-11-26 04:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks very much! It's good to see you haunting LJ, my first love.

Date: 2014-11-26 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeeees. I've been very, very naughty about using LJ. Will be making a post in the near future--maybe today, probably in 3 weeks when David goes back home about my adventures.

Date: 2015-01-20 02:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aww, I am totally echoing everything nhaingen has said. I liked this, too. Heartbreaking and real, right down to the miserable conversation with this dickish intern. The not scene selection is also really effective. Kyle falling down on the kitchen floor and saying he doesn't know if he can go on is so right-in-the-gut when at the very same moment in the chronology of the story he may not wake up.

I think I just really like when you write about Kyle dying... :x

Date: 2015-01-21 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ugh, I really like writing about Kyle dying, isn't that awful? It's kind of awful. Anyway, thank you for reading this! I realize it's kind of tough to internalize, and I don't totally remember why I went down this road but I'm glad you found it effective.

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