“He said ‘it looks bad,’ and not, ‘it doesn’t look good.’ That seems like an important distinction,” he said, picking at something on his left cheek. “Doctors don’t usually say that, do they?”

She stirred her coffee for the fifth or sixth time and said she didn’t know.

“I haven’t had much experience with doctors and hospitals.”

“Do you think they spend a lot of time agonizing over their word choice?”

A group of older women came into the café, hooting and moving noisily between the tables to the counter. Their perfume spread out, heavy like a Hudson Bay blanket.


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