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art by Melissa Mead

Fashion Statement

Peter Roberts grew up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned a BS at the University of Pittsburgh. He currently lives in central Ohio. Over the past thirty years or so, he has had poems and stories published in various magazines & online journals, including Asimov's, Star*Line, Nature, Astropoetica, Ars Medica, Redstone Science Fiction, Abyss & Apex, Bitter Oleander, Illumen, Poetry Salzburg Review, The South Carolina Review, Lilliput Review, Café Irreal, Poem, Lullaby Hearse, The Wisconsin Review, the William and Mary Review, Small Pond, New York Quarterly, & Confrontation, & in the anthologies Poetic Voices Without Borders & Futures from Nature. He has poems forthcoming in Illumen, & Crow. For a more complete list of publications, and additional personal information: www.god-and-country.info/personal.html

“The red spots are absolutely lovely. They match your dress perfectly. Where’d you get them? I saw an ad from Mayo offering something similar. Is that where you found them?”
“Not Mayo. Kaiser-Permanente--they have the most refined choices. Nothing vulgar or too obvious.”
“Speaking of obvious--and vulgar--don’t look now, but Michelle just came in wearing the most hideous, blotchy mess. It’s as though someone splattered paint all over her, and not in a tasteful, Jackson Pollock sort of way, either. I bet it’s some kind of cheap rosacea--no one seems to be able to produce a good, well-formed variety, but they do keep trying. And if they set the price low enough, it seems they can always find somebody to buy it.”
“I’d never do rosacea--it simply has no symptoms to speak of. I want an experience, something I can really feel. Sometimes, when life just gets me down, a good fever with chills is the only thing that can snap me out of it.”
“Oh, yes. I know exactly what you mean. I simply cannot understand those people who insist on maintaining nothing but robust good health all the time. It must get so boring. Didn’t Mark Twain say something about that, something about having to have a little bit of suffering in heaven, just so the contrast reminds you how good you really have it.”
“I know, I know. And sometimes a good chronic illness is just what the doctor ordered, so to speak. But you don’t want to carry it too far. I don’t get people who try really dangerous diseases. I suppose it’s like those people who get a kick out of eating unusual things. It’s OK up to a point, but then you get those nuts who eat blowfish--what do they call it, fugu or something? If everything goes right, you get a tingling sensation with your meal, but if it doesn’t work out, you stop breathing. Why take that much risk?”
“Well, yes, but isn’t that why we’re here? What was it Nancy tried? Ebola? That’s just going too far. And look where that got her! I suppose that explains the closed casket, too.”
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, October 7th, 2010
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