Smile

Smile

Smile A short story by Katelin Hogard   “17 adults, six kids.” She rolled her eyes, the shriek of children pulsating into her temples without any remorse. It was Sunday, day five of a 60 hour week at the little supper club that’s been around since before her own father could walk. This meant mediocre steaks, a bar full of drunk’s and a dining room that was empty by 8pm. It was year 15 for her. 15 years of this small supper club in this small town that she always promised herself to get out of but never had. A pregnancy at 18, divorce at 22, another pregnancy at 24 and a foreclosure at 27. This place was the only consistent in her life. “Four shots of polish and a vodka press.” Before the words could come out of his mouth a chair fell over, echoing throughout the whole neighborhood. “Hello…? I’ll need those drinks today.” She looked up and just smiled, trying to suffocate him with her eyes. There was a group that had been drinking since 11am in the bar and a private party in the back. Along with that, all of four tables were full in the dining room with daughters taking their crippled fathers to dinner at the only place familiar to them. The sadness within them exaggerated her own but she understood why they always kept coming back. The steaks that were always overcooked, the carpet that turned a darker tinge of shit grey every year, the familiar faces. Everyone always wants familiar. “I’d like a riesling, Mich Golden Light and a white zin.”...
My mom is still stronger than cancer, even though it killed her

My mom is still stronger than cancer, even though it killed her

Cancer is an uninvited guest, a dark shadow on a sunny day, a pointedly mean joke without punchline or retribution. It inspires sympathetic head-shakes and hugs from those who might understand or only think they do. Everyone (or-so-it-seems) knows someone who has battled cancer, or knows someone who knows someone who has battled cancer (win-or-lose). Or someone that is currently in the fight. And what is left behind. On life and death  The room is a warm and steady 72 degrees. It doesn’t change much. In the hallway, the bustle of doctors and nurses in scrubs and white coats. We are at Regions Hospital in downtown St. Paul. The plants are plastic: living things are harmful. But there is still life here, watching my mother dance around the room in a hospital gown to music I play for her. The windows can’t be opened but sunlight is streaming through the pane with warmth as real as the summer outside. But things are different inside, cut off from the melange of cars and people that cris-cross through the downtown streets. From their lives and stories. This is 2004, a decade before the Light Rail first passed in front of the hospital. She would have been excited about that. It’s hard to write a story like this without coming across as sob (or looking for sympathy). As I write this, my neighbor’s dog is chasing a rabbit from the yard, barking, soon to be covered in dirt and mud, blissfully unaware of the emotional trials of humans. The dog does not offer sympathy, only support; companionship, and so when telling stories...