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OF TIME AND THE LIVER
BY MICHAEL GAUSE
 
Being 38 and still scavenging shiny bits in the corners. To sit gray and bearded among nubile piercings, the weird old guy in the coffeehouse who stares and goes to the bathroom and you don't want to go in after he comes out. What happens if you don't internalize the timeline? Mister, you're 70 . . . what are you doing here? That old guy staring blankly at the ass of the 18-year-old girl at the counter. Its not a lustful gaze, but a sad one, a profile I remember from when I lived in Northeast Minneapolis. An eldercare facility I walked by one Sunday afternoon: a woman, I'd say 80 or so, sat in her threadbare dress, a shapeless mass conforming to a motif of daisies. She sat slouching, staring at -- through -- a bouquet of plastic flowers on the table. She was not happy to have it. The price tag dangled from the vase. She tried to maintain that she had been given flowers. I would imagine when you have seen as many years as she has, you know when you have and when you haven't. They did not smell, or grow, or die, and they didn't feel like love. They would sit there forever, like her face said she would too, an existence that had no more to look forward to than the present. All days are plastic from here on out. If she leaned back the flowers would go out of focus. That was almost better. If she leaned in, shed see the price tag: $3.98. I watched her rise and limp toward the fridge, quietly wishing, or so I imagined, she were completely blind.
 
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