How an old man dies of lung cancer

The skin that doubled over his forehead and neck hung loosely, collecting in folds. His lips were parted, cracked and bleeding in the corners. Every few moments a cough that sounded as if he were laughing and crying at the same time escaped his mouth. I give him a new handkerchief for every time this happens, because the old one would be soiled with blood. His voice cracked as he tried to speak to me, I didn’t know if it would be the last time, because he had been struggling for so long. I handed him a glass of cold water, and kept my hands around it to keep it steady. He drank the entire cup before words could escape him.

"Mary," he sounded like a different person, his voice cracked in a thousand different places, "I don’t want… want…" he couldn’t finish his sentence, and collapsed, coughing at the carpet around his bed. I helped him back onto the bed, and tucked the covers around him. I took a moment to scrub at the floor with the brush and bucket of soapy water already sitting in the corner of the room. I didn’t see the point, the once white carpet looked as if it wore a pink skirt around the bed. I don’t know if the blood stains will ever rub out. "Mary," he righted himself on the bed, and stared at me with strained eyes. "I don’t want… you… to smoke…ever."

"Oh dad, you know I wouldn’t," I said to him, and put my arm around his bony shoulders. I wanted to tell him that smoking made me sick to my stomach, and always had. That when he smoked, I hated him. But we were past that time. He looked up at me, his eyes hazy and sky blue, he looked as if he might cough, but suppressed it.

"Listen Mary," he said.

And then he told me how an old man dies of lung cancer;

The End

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