It is late afternoon, I sit on the sofa, typing. Clark has been preparing for his colonoscopy and looks sickly, shrinking into the adjoining sofa, wearing his black socks hiked up with boxers. He has been running back and forth for some time now after drinking the anti-magic potion and downing the Dulcolax pills he has been given. He goes into his room and I hear Sara and Clark laugh quietly. As surely as I sit here on the couch facing their room, Sara comes out leading Clark, who is dressed in a suit jacket, tie and Oxford cloth shirt from the waist up and still those boxers and pulled up black socks from the waist down. Because he is sick from all the colonoscopy prep, Clark sort of floats by me. It is as if Sara is playing dress-up with Clark in his funeral attire and is showing him off before he dies. It is funny, but creepy, and I ask what’s going on. “Clark has to have a picture to put in the directory at State to go along with his bio,” says Sara, laughing as she straightens his collar. “It’s due on Thursday,” which is two days away. Sara seems to be enjoying herself, picking on Clark and dusting his shoulders. “Sara just get it the hell over with.” Clark is not the most patient.

We are off. I have packed my notebooks and some of my best reading books for the trip. I always hesitate in packing all my best, as I want to be sure that if I die while I’m gone the people who find my house and all my belongings will wonder at the riches. “Such wealth! So well-read,” they will say. And then they will discover Mika Sorenson has come by on her way to the coffee shop and has left all her reading materials by accident.

We arrive at the hospital. In the waiting room is a little girl of about 3, frail in size, with a t-shirt on that says “The Cutest.” She marches around and is, indeed, the cutest thing in the waiting room, besides me. She’s got the voice and the crowd-puttying attitude, I have the golden kneecaps that look like Pilot Mountain. I think about babies, about grandchildren for my parents, about how I had some big ideas I’d have my own tiny people by this point. Cue 7 1/2 years of Hurricane Psycho K. Though I said earlier I am 35 years old, I am actually 37. Therefore, I only have 3 years at this point to find someone, convince him that the prospect of having children with me is not bone-chilling terrifying, then vie for his attention in a biblical “Endless Love” kind of way. I’m not sure if I want to have kids, but I think I better have them now before old Pennywise decides to reinstate Eugenics.

The Cutest is lashing around on the waiting room sofa and lets one go. It is Loud. “That’s nasty,” her mama says as she pops her leg. “Don’t hit me,” sasses The Cutest, and she rolls over and shows her mama her rear. This is a room full of colonoscopy patients, I think. Who’s nasty?

We get back to the house and Sara and I take Sharky for a walk to the sound. My back is still broken so Sara has to hold the leash. Sharky swims, we sit on the dock while he shakes and shakes right down to his little tail to dry himself off and then we leave, headed out through the neighborhood. Sharky pulls in one direction, away from the house and I have to branch off from the group — my back is screamy and I really don’t want to walk down that street anyway because the Bermans are really perfect and nice and they talk to me about cool things when I see them. So I play up the back card, especially when I round the corner and see Clark. He is in the yard, inspecting the grass and he asks what he always asks, “Where’s your mom?” I tell him she is taking Sharky around the block because Sharky was pulling, and Clark looks at me with his stern face, like I should not have let Sara take Sharky by herself, but Sara’s bones aren’t brittle — she takes Sharky all the time — and my injured lower back feels like someone is dry-icing it every time I step or bend. Sara and Sharky come back from around the wrong corner, Sharky didn’t want to walk further without me, he is so damn sentimental, and we give Sharky a rinse before toweling him off. We have a big orange towel for Sharky and he thinks it’s a cape and that we’re in the ring, and he dives into the towel wiggling all around and falling all over the floor and rolling over. He gets up time and again to charge and fall — he loves getting dried off as much as he loves swimming and fetching balls. I love Sharky so much and I think I am going to buy him some black socks and pull them all the way up and fit him into some baby boxers and a nice fitted tee that says in sparkly letters “The Cutest.” Or maybe I will just find that tee I made for him of Clark flipping the bird.

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