Suspicion is the companion of mean souls and the bane of all good society. —Thomas Paine
The porn videos sitting on his bedside table were the first thing I made note of. The one on top was “Poke-ahantas.”
It wasn’t unusual for a paid caregiver to answer the door at a hospice patient’s home and usher me, a hospice social worker, into the bedroom. Mr. K wasn’t in his bed, however.
I’d never met him before; he’d just begun receiving home hospice care the day prior. The nurse’s opening notes said he was born in the former Soviet Union and…
I was sitting in my therapist’s office when I divulged, “I told him I loved him. I couldn’t keep it in any longer.”
“What did he say?” she asked.
“He told me he loved me too,” I replied. “But he had to say something back,” I added. “I don’t know if he really does.”
“Why don’t we take him for his word?” my therapist suggested.
Good idea, I thought. I hadn’t considered that.
It was easier for me to believe that the universe was in on a giant hoax to fool me than to take people for their word.
On my first day in Florence, Italy, three years ago, I went into a tiny gelato shop near the apartment I was renting for the month, and after I ordered gelato, reached into my pocket to pay, and realized I didn’t have enough. I struggled to explain this in my limited Italian to the shopkeeper, a friendly young man who listened perhaps for a second before he breezily said, “Pay me later,” in excellent English.
I admit I was stunned. I’d never met him before. But what was interesting to me was that as he said this, I thought, I…
The first time he punched me, there was no warning.
For a split second, I didn’t understand what had happened. As we walked back into our flat, he was behind me, so I hadn’t seen the fist that came flying at the side of my head. I cannoned forward, hitting the wall hard with my shoulder and sliding down as my legs curled beneath me. My head dropped forward, my face hidden beneath my long auburn hair. I froze, pretending to be unconscious so he wouldn’t hit me again.
I still remember what I was wearing: a loose cream jumper…