Pancakes Cure Cancer

By on Apr 13, 2010 in Cuttings

“What are you doing to that poor cat?” I parked my doctor’s bag next to Nida’s briefcase. Curled at the table, my wife tucked old Bella’s forepaw into her fragrant teacup.

“Give me a kiss, Aloysius. I’m bathing her infected claw with chamomile tea.”

“Why don’t you take her to the vet?” I pecked Nida’s bony nose.

“She’d waddle away if she didn’t like this.”

“Couldn’t get far.” Our two crammed rooms abut an intake to the Queensboro Bridge. Lead-lined curtains and roaring air conditioners hide the traffic, but our living room unit drips into a bowl: tick, tick, tick.

“So how was your day?” Nida demanded, while I unpacked my take-out. She’d save my fork, knife and spoon in a jar for the Central Park picnic we never have time for.


“Anybody die?”

“Not yet, but I’m still on call. I just wanted to eat dinner with you and take a shower.”

“That looks tasty.” She ogled my pay-by-the-pound in its clear clamshell.

“Want some, honey?”

“I’ll just pick.” She chose an avocado sushi, and Bella slipped her paw out of the tea.

“She’s hungry.” Our beer-bellied Persian cast green looks at my bits of fish.

“That’s not on her kidney-stone diet,” Nida warned.

“Is there any OJ?”

“I don’t know.” She dried Bella’s paw on the sleeve of her grey robe. In the fridge, I found a bottle of Perrier and an orphaned egg.

“We’re out of OJ and everything else… So how was your breast exam?”

“There’s a lump on my right side. They can’t feel it, but my mammogram looks fishy. Dr. Krackel can do the biopsy this Friday, in her office.”

“Don’t worry, most lumps are benign at your age.”

“‘Mortality is fatal,’” Nida mused. “Emily Dickinson wrote that in a funny Valentine.”

Bella waddled over, batting her eyes at me, and I fed her a shred of shrimp. “Just because three women on your mom’s side died of cancer…”

“What I need is a stack of blueberry pancakes.” My wife gulped my last sushi. “Pancakes cure cancer, you know.” She winked.

“We’ll go out to Hannah’s; I’ll take my beeper.”

“You’re eating dinner now.”

“A tiny little salad.” I pushed away my gobbled box.

“But I want real pancakes, not from a mix, and you can’t get any in this neighborhood. When Lucy and I were kids, we’d walk to Stark’s on Broadway, and she’d order the hot turkey sandwich. I’d get their ‘little thin pancakes with hot blueberry sauce.’”

“What’s Stark’s?

“Nothing to do with ‘strong’ in German. A restaurant chain; they went bust. The biddies in there looked scared when we coughed. Tuberculosis!” Nida grabbed her neck with both hands.

“Come sit on the sofa, honey; we can watch a movie till the hospital calls.”

“What have we got?”

It’s a Wonderful Life.” Now I heard our neighbors upstairs chuckling. You can hear them roll their closet doors open or shut.

“It’s that video show,” Nida remarked. “Everybody in the building starts to laugh.”

Indeed, titters and guffaws bubbled from upstairs, with groans and shouts from downstairs and sideways. I settled down on our rumpled sofa, and when Nida plopped beside me, I eased my well-upholstered arm around her. Then Bella — whose kidney stones don’t seem to cause her pain — clambered into Nida’s lap and tucked her fluffy tail over her eyes. Instead of loading the video, I just sat, while laughter rolled in from every corner.

“It really is,” I muttered to the ticking air conditioner and squeezed my wife. I waited for my beeper’s ironic comment. For once, it held its peace.

“What?” she asked sleepily.


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Anna Sykora has been an attorney in New York and teacher of English in Germany, where she resides with her patient husband and three enormous Norwegian Forest cats. To date she has placed 49 tales in the small press or on the web, most recently with Strange, Weird and Wonderful (where she was the featured writer for Winter 2010), M-Brane SF, Rosebud (an excerpt from her first novel), The Barbaric Yawp, Everyday Weirdness, The Iconoclast, Skive, Black Petals, Golden Visions and Afterburn SF. She has also placed 85 poems, and was Green Rock's featured lyrical poet for June 2009.