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A Lesson in Resuscitation

Marvyne Jenoff
From:   Tales for an Unknown City, Montreal and Kingston, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990, Dan Yashinsky, editor; and paperplates, Volume 1, Number 4, Toronto.


        I did not expect her face to be blue.

"It’s nothing," she whispered from the bed. "But this morning I was dead for a moment. I had an awful pain, then nothing. Somebody shouted, 'Breathe, breathe,' and I think I heard a prayer—who am I to question? The police came, and an ambulance, too. And here I am, back again! My dear, don’t be shocked. At my age you expect such things. Now, come closer and tell me how you are."

She lay back and closed her eyes.
Her face was still pretty blue.

        I whispered in her ear, "There’s a man in my life."
"Ooh! Marvellous! Tell me more."
        "Well, we met..."
"How exciting! How very exciting!" She sat up. "See what you are doing to me with your enthusiasm! Go on."
        "Well, he said..."

"It sounds wonderful, my dear! My philosophy is, if you can talk to each other before and after, then you know it’s love. But," she said, tapping off the top of a boiled egg and looking inside, "if you want my advice—I’m giving it to you anyway—I think you are spending too much time by the telephone. The best thing in your situation is to have two men. Don’t be shocked. Find a second one now, while you are feeing so, so energetic.

"You know, my dear, in all the excitement this morning there was such a nice young policeman. What a pity he didn’t take off his clothes. He reminded me of a delightful man I once knew in Vienna."

        "I knew a man in Winnipeg," I said.
and she said, "Paris"
        and I said, "Parry Sound"
and she said, "The Riviera"
        and I said, "Rainy River"
and she said, "San Francisco"
        and I said, "Are you sure it’s okay for you to laugh so much?"
and she said, "Nobody forbids me to laugh."

        So I said, "Saskatoon"
and she said, "Hong Kong"
        and I said, "Flin Flon."
As we sat by the window having tea

we looked out over the city lights and agreed upon Toronto
        just in time for me to catch my train back to Mississauga.

Her hair was red again right down to the roots.
At the door she kissed both my cheeks and said,
"My dear, you look marvelous,
absolutely marvelous!
You know, the way you rushed in,
I was sure you had bad news."



Marvyne Jenoff's works copyright © to the author.


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