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Flash Nonfiction

Better Off by James Penha

Better Off | By James Penha

My ninety-five-year-old aunt says she wants to die at home. Not in a new place—a senior living place where she will know no one (though she knows almost no one living anywhere anymore… except the caregiver who cares a few hours per day at a handsome rate off the books… and the well-tipped building superintendent… and the old lady down the hall who complains about every noise from my aunt’s apartment but only wants what my aunt wants, she says, and that is for her to stay home.) And so I will continue, I know, to get emergency beeps and texts and calls at irregular hours regularly, and I think for the first time ever that my aunt would be better off, as she has often said herself, dead “because ninety-five is plenty for anyone.” I wonder if in twenty years, when I am as old as she is now, who besides me will wish me dead.

About the Author:

A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his work has lately appeared in several anthologies: The View From Olympia (Half Moon Books, UK), Queers Who Don’t Quit (Queer Pack, EU), What We Talk About It When We Talk About It, (Darkhouse Books), Headcase , (Oxford UP), Lovejets (Squares and Rebels), and What Remains (Gelles-Cole). His essays have appeared in The New York Daily News and The New York Times. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Twitter: @JamesPenha