Written by Stellar Kim, this short story is also written in a different style format, in the naming of incidents to separate the paragraphs into a more aloof, documentary told story. This mimics in fact the first person narrator’s need to separate himself from a woman he meets who has terminal cancer.
This method also enables the story to go back into the explanation of his own state of mind, the death of his wife, and his coping and caring for their young son by himself. There is a determination to the voice to transcend any situation that threatens him again. I got this sensation from the story and it falls beautifully into place by the end. As a radiologist, he is the first to notice the mass in a patient’s breast, follows her through her radiation therapy, and without really dating–avoiding it as she seems to seek his companionship and would like it to develop into a relationship–he does care for her and acts in the capacity of a friend.
Stellar Kim does have a nice way of tying things together, the little details; newly single, the narrator dated an underwear model. The patient, Alycia, is a bit overweight and a far cry from a model, and while she has a good attitude and fights the disease as best she can, she does hold some hurts inside from never feeling pretty. After her death, the narrators is asked to bring her clothes to the funeral home and realizing there is no underwear, goes to Victoria’s Secret and buys her something special. For as she struggled against the disease that wasted her, he found her to be beautiful.
Whether he kept himself closed to her for his son’s sake, as he finally admits to her, or for his own, the reader cannot help but be sympathetic to his decision. It is a tough place to be, to protect yourself and your son from the pain of another tragic loss, or to help someone better enjoy the last months of their own life.
Nicely done, well written, a very intense story without any overdone emotion.