As Human As It Gets

Maggie licks the sweat from her fingers and thinks, This is as human as it gets. Her brow drips salt into her eyes and they sting. Another sign that she’s so very alive. The joy of that fact erupts from her lungs in a burst of laughter that startles her, chest heaving, bent over, elbows on her thighs.

She has run just to know she can. To feel the breeze on her slick skin and get a chill. To feel her heart pump so hard it might explode and end her life on the spot, going out with a bang rather than dwindling away in her withered body. The cancer has taken a piece of her lung, in cahoots with the surgeons paid to save her. They have brought her low, chin-to-chin with the beast that is nothingness, or glory, who’s to say. But she has given the cancer the big middle finger, dug her heels in, promised her failing body she will fight for it. And she has won, at least for now. And this sweat tastes like heaven. Like joy. Like promise and defiance mixed together.

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