I was the breakable one. Women always are. It’s not so much a question of one big disappointment, though. It’s more like a thousand little disappointments raining down on top of each other. After a while it gets to seem like a flood, and the first thing you know you’re drowning.

The expression terminal, when the doctor first pronounced it, had struck Meershank with a comic bounce, this after a lifetime of pursuing puns for a living. His scavenger self immediately pictured a ghostly airline terminal in which scurrying men and women trotted briskly to and fro in hospital gowns.

She’s always busy, too busy, and is always reminding herself of this fact, so that the notion of an empty apartment, even an empty bed, holds no more than faint flush of alarm. And only when she thinks about it… She’ll manage, though. She knows she will.

A woman says: “I plan to cut the shoulder pads out of all my blouses and dresses and load them on a barge and dump them in Lake Winnipeg, creating a tidal wave which I’m told can be harnessed to provide electric power to the entire region.

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