“Catheter” by Bill Atmoran

I’m not sick of McDonalds even though we’ve had it five times this week. Every night someone pours the biggest bag of cheeseburgers onto the kitchen table, and no one has noticed when I stack three together. I will sneak a box of fries and eat them lying down on the hardwood, with my heels pressed high against the dining room wall. It’s been kind of like a slumber party, except for the tears, and the three week time span. I guess it’s more like summer camp. When they aren’t talking about blood results, or how hearing is the last thing to go, they whisper that mom should stop singing Garth Brooks all the time, and how it’s pathetic that my godmother starts drinking at noon. She sleeps in my bed and spilled red wine on the comforter. I sleep in the basement, which is okay because I’m able to sleep better when the TV hums in the background and I get to talk to my cousins until really late. I haven’t cried yet, mom said I will when it’s all over. She said sadness hits people at different times and can creep up on you now and again. 

The other day I was in the kitchen with my mom while she called to make arrangements with The Undertaker. I got really excited. It would be awesome if my favourite wrestler could come all the way from Death Valley to take Dad away. I pictured him rolling his eyes into the back of his head while saying, 


In a really deep voice while he carries my dad’s casket. I was even thinking that he could teach me how to do a pile driver properly if he had a few minutes to spare. Mom told me that The Undertaker from WWE wouldn’t be coming to our house which was a bummer but makes sense also because he probably has to be in the ring this Thursday for Smackdown. Last year I dressed up as The Undertaker for Halloween. I wore a trench coat, a black cowboy hat, and mom let me use her black eyeliner. I even wore soccer cleats to make myself taller, just like I did on picture day to make the middle row. I was supposed to trick-or-treat with Spencer who was dressing up as Austin Powers, but he got grounded because he told Alisha that he was going to shag her during recess. It ended up being just mom and me but we hit a lot of houses and I ended the night with a huge haul. 

I was criss-cross-apple-sauced, leaning against the back wall of the master bedroom. Staring at a flickering candle and collapsible chair legs around the hospital bed. The big light was off and there were lamps scattered around the carpet. The room was lit with an orange tinge. It felt like a Sunday, but everyday has felt like a Sunday lately. Uncle Greg waited for dry eyes to joke about Dad’s extra-large external catheter. Everyone laughed. Aunty Bernadette said Uncle Greg would need a small or a medium one. Mom said she never really noticed that dad’s penis was anything special. Everyone laughed, and laughed again when they saw that I wasn’t laughing. I understood why it was funny. I was thinking so hard that I forgot to laugh. I didn’t want to seem giddy. It was nice to know I had one less thing to worry about.

 Bill is an Ontarian studying therapy in Glasgow. He writes about weed but doesn’t smoke it. He also writes about parents.

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