She looked like a stick figure standing at the kitchen sink, one of those drawings she and I made as kids when we spent afternoons in kindergarten at the Catholic School.

Black pencil lines for arms and legs and a long neck. Her hair short and spikey. Her square, pallid face made her eyes big and dark, luminous, like they were full of tainted water.

Chemo? Radiation? Something like that.

I remember she could spell in kindergarten. I couldn’t and it pissed me off. Still does, kind of.

She married my best buddy. They fought all the time. Each was too smart for the other.

He died of cancer, too, but much later.

Right before he died, he told me over the telephone that he’d quit smoking cigarettes. His anger over his impending demise came through the phone line, all those hundreds of miles. I thought, you didn’t quit soon enough.

His idea of exercise was playing tennis with a burning Marlboro dangling out of the corner of his mouth.

I remember one time, in fourth grade, I stabbed her in the wrist with my #2 pencil, and the lead tip broke off beneath the skin.

I pointed at the wound and said, “It’s lead. You are going to get poisoned.” And then I laughed.

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