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We Regret To Inform You -- flash by Chaya Friedman

We regret to inform you, they said, we regret to inform you… those merciless doctors in their white coats.

I walked home, and I was shocked that the world had not ended, that the skies were still blue and not cloudy. How could the world go on? How could the world turn, when I had just heard the most dreaded words…

We regret to inform you, they had said.

How could the world exist when I was about to leave it?

It’s cancer, they had said, the worst kind, no chance of survival. We regret to inform you…

I went on the bus and paid my fare. I was shocked that the bus driver didn’t look up when I came on, that no one noticed me as I passed them. As if I had not just heard the fatal words, as if my life was not ending. I walked off the bus, and my legs went through the motions of walking, and I breathed the air.

We regret to inform you, they had said, no chance of survival.

Sunshine played on my face, and the trees shook with the wind. Bow before me world, I wanted to shout, because I am going to die! Why didn’t I just shout the words? Why did I care if the woman walking by thought I was crazy? I was going to die anyway…

I went home, and I went to my desk and my computer. My fingers clicked on the keyboard, typing, typing, typing. The same thing I had done for the past twenty years of my life. Typing, typing, typing.

My children came home, and they complained. I told them to be quiet and continued my typing.

A few months left, they had said, were so very sorry.

And here I was, typing, typing, typing. The same way I had done every other day of my life.

Why didn’t I go hug my children? Why didn’t I cry? Why didn’t I…feel?

My fingers raced across the keyboard, almost in a race against time, time that was going to take me, take my life very soon.

We regret to inform you, they had said.

How would it feel when the great abyss wrapped its fingers around my throat? When space and time took me away from earth, from the sun, and the sky?

Type, type, type.

My daughter tugged on my arm, and I looked at her small face.

“I’m sorry,” I said because I was. I was sorry that her father would be leaving so soon. That she would have to face life without him. I was terribly sorry.

“Can we play, daddy?”

“Daddy has to work,” I said the same way I have always replied.

She raced away, and my fingers continued their dance across the keyboard.

Only a few months. It would be wise to write a will, figure things out about your children, they had said.

Why couldn’t I believe that my death would come? Even after I had heard the words, why did I feel immortal, that I couldn’t possibly die? Others died, certainly. My wife, my mother. But not me! How could I simply fade from existence as they had?

No chance of survival, they had said. We regret to inform you…


Chaya Friedman lives in Brooklyn, New York, with five siblings and unfortunately no pets. She spends her time eating apples, reading S.E Hinton and writing. She is currently in the middle of writing her first novel in between midterm exams and homework assignments.

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