. . . prepare to pay the piper

. . . Matter, we say, meaning undifferentiated stuff.
Lint.  Galactic dust.
The baggage we carry.
Yesterday, and the day before, UPS delivered boxes to my father-in-law.  He had ordered another pair of slippers with strong soles “for walking out to the mailbox, you know.”
I know.
And a table he can pull up to his chair.  “We can eat, pay bills, write, paint . . . anything!”  He has another one still in the box for my mother-in-law, too.  “Should I put it together, Momma?”
“Not just now.”
“I am strong,” he says, lying down with his eyes closed.  His body has begun to consume itself.  He lifts his once-strong arm, the skin hangs in a swag like a curtain, “I’ll get through this.  I’ll be okay.”
In the kitchen my daughter hugs herself, shaking.  She doesn’t want to be touched.  She won’t say anything until we’re out in the car, “I know he’s right.  He will get through.  He’ll get through.  You know?” . . .
[story: “fear in a handful“]

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