Drop #31: Insurance

The dog needs feeding again, but then, that’s how it goes with dogs. I should call her by name, Yuki, out of respect. She’s got me through some tough days. She’s a Japanese breed, a Shiba Inu, and a lovely, fox-like little thing. She never barks, and never complains, even when I don’t feed her enough. Yuki is almost 12: still younger than I am, even in dog years. She also needs far fewer pills. I hide hers in her food, then take my evening dose: a colorful handful.

My back hurt terribly again this morning and it hasn’t gone away like it sometimes does by lunchtime; in fact, it has spread into my right shoulder as it also sometimes does. I can still get things done, but not without discomfort. The cough has become a nuisance too and now there’s this pain in the ear, which might have something to do with the cracked molar. All these things are connected, as the Chinese say.

I buzz her in and she’s up in a jiffy. ‘It’s cold in here,’ she says, throwing her jacket on the old, dilapidated grey chair. Yuki comes round to see who’s there, then patters off, uninterested.

‘Problem with the heating,’ I say. ‘Should be fixed in a couple of days.’

‘Lucky it’s not winter proper yet.’

‘Yeah. Lucky. Cup of tea?’

‘Sure.’ She follows me to the kitchen where I put on the kettle. ‘Speaking of tea,’ she says, ‘Had some with my sister yesterday.’


‘I only have one, don’t I?’

‘That’s right.’ I smile. ‘How is she?’ I cough.

‘OK. The husband’s job seems to be going well.’

‘It always has, hasn’t it?’

‘Yeah, but now he’s making even more money. Bob is getting rich.’

‘Good for him. So, you stopped by their place?’

‘Yes—you  know: you should really try and connect again.’

‘Id love to,’ I say, ‘but I don’t think she’d want to. She didn’t happen to mention me, did she?’

I can tell she is thinking of lying but says: ‘No. The whole thing is so silly, don’t you think?’

‘Many sad and serious things are.’

‘I really don’t see how you were to blame.’

‘Neither do I, but things like to be complicated. Anyway, did you have a nice time?’

‘As nice as possible when the TV’s always on so loud. We had cake with the tea, of course. Three kinds on ugly new china. They’re always eating cake. I’m not kidding, they have some kind of dessert after every meal, and with coffee or tea in the afternoon too—oh, and get this, Bob said I looked tired. What kind of a comment is that? He probably meant old. I don’t look old do I?’

‘You look just perfect.’

I pour the tea and we sit in the kitchen with our cups. ‘Sorry, I have no cake,’ I say.

‘I’m glad.’ She makes a face. The one she’s made since she was a child.

I smile again, cough again.

‘How have you been?’ she asks, cradling the cup below her chin and then blowing on it. Little ripples wobble into circles.

‘Oh, I’m OK. They canceled my medical though.’

‘Just like that?’

‘Just like that. Said they can’t give it to consultants anymore. Kind of leaves me in a jam.’

‘I’m sure it does.’

We sit silently for a few seconds before I speak again: ‘Maybe I could go on yours.’


‘Your insurance. As a family member.’


‘Maybe we could work it out.’

‘Maybe,’ she says, ‘but I’d have to pay an extra like 300 a month, and my job wouldn’t cover it.’

‘That’s a lot.’


‘We could have some type of arrangement though, where I make up some of the difference—I can’t afford all of it—but probably two-thirds.’

‘You know: I’m pretty sure my job wouldn’t go for that. Too much paper work. Too much procedure.’

‘I see.’

‘Can’t you get on Medicare or something?’

‘I was never a full-time employee so I’d have to pay an exorbitant sum to get on it now.’

‘What about Medicaid?’

‘Yes, there’s that, but hardly any of my doctors take it. Besides, you have to prove you have zero assets, and I’m still listed on your mother’s property in Brooklyn.’


‘Don’t worry about it, though.’

‘Sorry, dad. I just can’t afford it.’

‘That’s OK,’ I say, scratching Yuki, who has come for a cuddle, under her chin. ‘I already have another solution.’

‘Good. What’s that?’

‘I’m just not going to get sick.’

By E.M. Vireo


About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

One Response to Drop #31: Insurance

  1. Eloise says:

    Insurance. A nightmare of winding paper trails and countless phone calls.

    Right now, I sit surrounded by piles of paper, making countless phone calls and trying to get various offices to work together. Did this for my parents as well.

    But the real beast is uncertainty, isn’t it? What happens when real illness befalls and one is left falling through the administrative and bureaucratic cracks?

    I like your solution – never define what you have as being an illness…. Best of luck.

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