Published now in the New England Review, , Vol. 43, No. 4:
"Last Days of the Matriarch," my new short story
Bonita called with a progress report. "Our mother's body is calling it quits," she said. She tended to speak like that, declarative statements that Eleanor, over the years, had learned to trust.
But Eleanor, who was a psychologist, didn't like the euphemism. You could call it quits on a job, but a life was not a job. When she pressed her sister for details, Bonita reported that their mother hadn't eaten in three days. She couldn't get out of bed, and this morning, she really thought it was the end.
The end. That was another one, but Eleanor let it go; her sister was not a client. And, truthfully, watching your mother die required everyone to forgive all flaws, big and small, and choose the easiest words, like love, like end, like quit. She cleared her calendar and bought a ticket to Philadelphia. Her husband offered to come with her, but she preferred going alone. That way they would be equal: three women without men. Beryl had outlived the two she'd married, and Bonita, formerly Grace, had had enough divorces in her life it was kinder not to count.