ONE NIGHT STAND

“What do you mean?” A warm tear rolled down her cheek. She wanted to wipe it off, to show how strong she was, but there was no room for pretense—not now when she was about to lose everything.

She was standing in the middle of the living room, in a home she had made with the man she loved. And even though she looked at him, saw his dark curly hair, his amber, honey eyes, and that crooked smile, she still couldn’t believe it was him. “In sickness and in health, through good and bad times, till death do us part,” she mumbled.

“Well, Cat, it seems like you’re almost there,” he barked out. And as soon as the words left his lips she could see the regret in his eyes. He combed his fingers through his hair, as he always did when he was frustrated. Ever since she got sick, she realized this simple act had grown habitual.

“I love you,” she whispered choosing to disregard his last statement

“And I love you—”

“But not as much as you used to.” She finished the sentence for him—it sounded less painful coming from her than it did from him. Cat let another tear roll down her cheek as she fought for control and to keep her breathing in check. “So what do you want to do?”

“We can’t be together,” he mumbled as he shook his head. “Eighteen was too young to get married. We should have listened to your parents.”

“Michael.” A bitter laugh rolled through her. “You aren’t leaving because we got married young and you don’t love me anymore. You’re leaving because you’re tired of this,” she yelled as she pulled off the scarf that covered her bald head. She then pulled the corner of her shirt down to show the chemotherapy port next to her armpit. “You’re leaving because you’re sick and tired of me being sick.” Her words labored as she said each one with a huff.

“That’s not it,” he shouted then repeated it, exasperated: “That’s not it. I want kids.”

Cat stumbled back, the weight of his accusation hitting her in the chest like a ton of bricks. “You decided not to freeze my eggs. It’s your fault that we can’t have any kids. The doctor told you the chemotherapy, the radiation and whatever juice they had me on would fry my eggs.”

“Can we just not argue about this anymore?” Michael waved his hand in a dismissive, exasperated gesture and turned his back on her. He headed to their bedroom, and when he returned he had his bags with him. “My lawyer will call you. I don’t want to drag this out. You can have anything you want. I will also help with the medical bills.”

“I don’t want anything,” Cat mumbled as she sank into the chair beside her. “Please leave. I don’t want to see you ever again.”

“There’s no need to—”

“Maybe I’ll die even before the papers get here.” Cat laughed, the pain in it evident.

“Don’t do anything stupid.”

“Maybe you aren’t the only one who thinks I’m a burden. Maybe it would be easier if the treatments and the transplant failed once again. Maybe everyone will be able to move on with their lives without me holding them back,” she mumbled, feeling lost all of a sudden.

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