Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Elaborate Fictions

She was one of the best writers I ever taught, so I guess it's not so surprising that I fell for her fiction. Such plotting could not fail to be convincing.

The shaved head.  The shaved eyebrows.
The pallor.
The specialty lotions and shampoos.
The wheelchair.  
The long and teary phone calls.
The portable oxygen tank.
The IV tubes and the photos from the hospital bed. 
The web site. 
The fake email addresses.
The support groups.
The confessionals about regret and fear.
The good-bye notes and visit.

When you become a teacher, you don't envision having to write a good-bye letter to a former student who's dying from cancer.  Yes... you hoped you'd stay in touch with students you'd especially bonded with,  but you pictured fond letters and friendly visits. 

Not this.....

C. and I had stayed in touch after she left my class-- occasional lunches; shared books and poetry; she kept me posted as she went to college and sent me snippets of her own writing.

Months could pass between our contacts, but we always seemed to easily pick up where we'd left off.  

Until she called me with the news that would eventually end our friendship, make me question my judgment, and see her facing criminal charges.  

"Mrs. Fritch", she whispered, "I have cancer,"thus beginning her elaborate fiction, although I did not know that at the time.

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C. with her mother, who was in on the hoax.