A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2008, vol 4 no 4

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Ray Rasmussen


No and Thanks

I've reclaimed the part of my home given over to my oldest daughter's opiate dependency—freed from finding used needles & blackened spoons; from seeing her nodding off during the middle of the day; from hearing her slurred promises to quit. Five months ago she had left with a large check from Canada's Victims Fund, compensation for sexual assault and meant to assist her transition to reaffirmation of life.

But when the phone rings late at night, I know instinctively who it is, that against hope she's down again.

"Oh ... Dad. Is Terra there?"

"No, your sister has gone to Victoria to visit the grandparents."

"Oh." ... a long pause ... "We're going to be evicted tonight. I need ..."

I cut her short, "No, I'm not giving you any more money."

"Okay ... thanks ..."

In the silence, there's the panhandler who just yesterday said "thanks" when I said "no". Snaggletoothed, threadbare clothes, her mouth twisted into a grimace posing as a smile.

There's all that's missing between "thanks" and "no."

curled up
at my feet
the black dog

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