The Christmas Song, Part 4

When the doctor gave his recommendation, when it was Michaela who was in tears and not Ashley, Ashley took her mother’s hand, squeezed, and said, “They’re just tits, Mom.”

Michaela looked at Ashley dumbfounded, then looked to the doctor to see if he was still there, to make sure this wasn’t some dream she was having after having passed out.

“They’ve always been more trouble than they’re worth,” said Ashley, cupping them, giving them a jiggle.

Michaela slapped her daughter, waited long enough to see Ashley grab her cheek in pain—she was human then, after all—and then walked out of the office.

Nothing rattled Ashley. That was the thing about her, the best thing. But this, this diagnosis, the picture that had just been painted for them—that should have shaken her to her core.

As she stepped outside, Michaela reached into her purse, plumbing its depths for the pack of cigarettes that hadn’t been in there in at least ten years. When she realized what she was doing, she began to cry again. A cigarette? she thought. Right now? When my daughter’s just been diagnosed with…

Behind her, the door to the doctor’s office slammed open. Ashley stormed out.

“Mom,” said Ashley. “What the fuck was that?”

To be continued…

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