By Victoria Melekian

We’re in the kitchen, my friend and I,
finishing dinner, drinking wine.
She peels the label,
long messy shreds of paper,

wads it into little tiny clumps.
I take the bottle away,
ask again “What’s going on?”
Louder, like maybe she didn’t hear me

the first time. She runs her fingers
through her hair, barely there.
“It’s back,” she says.
I sit, stunned. Then hand her the bottle,

which makes us laugh.
And it feels good, this laughing.
One moment suspended,
a moon hovering above us.

I ask about chemo,
and she says, “No.”
When I realize what that means,
I shake my head, again and again

as though the truth can’t lodge
if I stay in motion. I get up
to load the dishwasher—forks,
spoons, plates all in their place.

When there’s nothing left to do,
I move my chair closer to hers,
and we sit holding hands
as the little boat of her life sinks.

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Victoria Melekian

Victoria Melekian / About Author

Victoria Melekian works as a court reporter. Her stories and poems have appeared in Monkeybicycle, Mudfish, Literary Orphans, Atlanta Review, Valparaiso Fiction Review, and other anthologies. Her story “What I Don’t Tell Him” aired on NPR. She has twice won a San Diego Book Award. For more, visit

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