The Cancer Never Stops

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"She's going to die, but... long is it going to take?"

David B. Silva's piece entitled The Calling was such a great short story.  I'll admit that when I was finished reading it, I was surprised at how much of an impact a short, six page story could have one me; I was upset, creeped out, in suspense, and frankly, I felt like I died a little along with the mother as the piece flowed.  I really have to admire a writer that can create all of those emotions in just six pages.  Great work.

I enjoyed the fact that he was somewhat blunt in the beginning by telling us that cancer was the main focus of the article.  What I liked even more, was the setting and tone that Silva created for us: he showed us the small details of the room that made it appear like a hospital, he used long, drawn out sentences to make us ponder the situation and really see/feel what was going on in the scene, and he also uses medical jargon in regards to the pills, medicines, etc. that Blair's mother has to take.  It really sets the dreary, depressing tone for the story. 

I was very shocked when Blair stated " An ugly thought comes to mind: why...doesn't she succumb?  Why hasn't she died by now?"  My jaw had to drop down to the ground.  I couldn't believe that he was talking about his mother this way! Talk about being blunt and straight to the point. But I think this was a necessary detail to put into the story because we can see how much he regrets his thoughts at the end of the story.  It really is true-- you never know what you have until it's gone.

I liked the repetition at the end with the whistle and her positioning on the bed.  Earlier in the story, Blair compares her to a butterfly and says "Five feet, seven inches and not quite ninety pounds.  The covers are pulled back slightly, her nightgown is unbuttoned and the outline of her ribs resembles a relief map."  It's ironic how his vision of her changes at the end when she appears to be wearing a death mask, crouched in this same position.

I really felt a lot of sympathy for the mother, because she tried so hard not to be a burden to her son, and no matter what she did, it seemed like her son started to hate her more and more.  It was obvious that he was lying through his teeth when he helped her, and I think that was why she always cried so much.  Not so much from the physical pain she was in, but rather from the emotional pain.

BUT...even though I personally feel this way as a reader... I think that as a writer this was a great tactic for the piece.  Silva used a very direct, blunt, realistic approach to helping someone with cancer, and shows us the wicked, selfish side of humanity. I mean, we can love someone so very very much... but now matter how much that is...when you take care of someone every minute of every single day, you start to get sick of it.  I think it's a little rash that Blair was counting down the minutes to her death, but you get the picture.  I think it also made of connect more with the mother, thus having a stronger connection to the story.  Great mindset...I'm going to have to remember that one.

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