Advisory reader age for this book is 17+
I knew even before Augusta opened the door of her car what the answer was. I was sitting on the back porch, scraping mud from my sneakers with a trowel, having thought, in my need to do something while Augusta was gone to the doctor’s, that uprooting what was left of the hedge would be easier after the night’s rain, when I heard the car come up the alley. She pulled onto the patch of yard where she usually parked; I felt frozen where I was – not knowing was unbearable, and yet I dreaded the moment of asking. Augusta shut off the car’s engine and for a long moment nothing happened; the sun was reflecting off the windshield, and I couldn’t see her face. Everything in sight was the same as it had been for years; how could something terrible have come into this world of ours? But the longer she sat there without getting out, the emptier I felt. I dropped the trowel and stood up, without realizing I had done either until Augusta opened the door and got out; she stood looking at the house and me, one hand still on the car door. She looked exposed there under the bright sky, and smaller than she had ever seemed to me; I saw how small the human body is, how fragile after all, when all these years I had imagined that she harbored a strength I’d never fathom. Her face was long and gaunt, as she stood there looking over the house; I could feel that she wasn’t thinking, only looking, at the place she had grown up in and lived in most of her life, seeing it in a way she’d never seen it before. I went toward her and her eyes on me felt frightening, as if she knew that it ran in the family and could see through to whatever was working away inside me, to bring me, too, to where she was, but I knew I had to stand that. There could not be any complaining now, about anything. She came forward a few steps to meet me and I held her; she was nearly rigid in my arms, but she didn’t push me away. My heart was pounding. I could feel her against me, breathing, and I thought, it’s next to me, cancer, that close. obooko.
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