# 104 – Twenty-five Years of Phlegm

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The tissues in the trashcan were filled with brown phlegm.  Fireworks flashed inside Michael’s eyes when he stood from the bed.  He shuffled across the room and cracked the window.  Cool air rolled over his face.  He stood there gripping the windowsill with his eyes closed and focused on breathing evenly.  It helped.  He was about to give sleep another try when he heard heels on the sidewalk below.
 
It was Liza.  Hadn’t she come home hours ago?  He scanned the street and found her car parked a few houses down on the other side of the street.  “Jesus Christ,” he muttered.  Michael pulled on his boots and headed for the living room.  He had to pause halfway down the steps to catch his breath again.  Liza’s hand was poised to unlock the door when he threw it open. 
 
Michael yanked her in the house and instantly wished that he’d stayed upstairs.  “Oh Jesus.”  He couldn’t handle being around people who were upset, and Liza was clearly upset.  Her bun was falling out and pushed to one side.  Stray pieces of hair clung to her forehead.  She looked old and tired.  The smell of cigarettes was so strong that even he could smell it.  
 
Liza was pretending that nothing was amiss.  He wanted to let her, but he was stunned by how much she reminded him of himself twenty-five years ago.   “Just tell me.”

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