Photo by Thomas Grotmol F IC T IO N Tamara Titus Even before I open my eyes, I smell smoke. At first I think I’m still dreaming—too many memories of my time under the stars, when everyone smelled like smoke or sweat—but then I see Cecil’s outline over by the open window. He’s sitting in his wheelchair with a blanket over his legs, and I can hear the oxygen machine chugging even as the haze from his c-iga rette settles around us. “Cecil,” I whisper. The digital clock on my nightstand reads 2:13, and the hallway outside is quiet. His head is bowed, and he doesn’t answer. While I watch, the orange tip of his cigarette falls into his lap. “Cecil!” I hiss, and his head jerks. He mumbles, and I pull my chair over to the bed. When I’m fully awake, I can transfer without assistance, but even then I like to know there’s someone within shouting distance, just in case. I set the brakes and hoist my ass into the seat. Then I settle my left stump onto the pad. It only takes v fi e seconds, but it’s too long. When I look back at Cecil,
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Apr 10, 2018
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