Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The first time she fell it was a Thursday morning. It was so silly. It could have happened to anyone. She stepped off the threshold between the kitchen and the garage - a mere one inch drop - turned her ankle, and went down like a sack of potatoes.
It was such a surprise and shock to find herself with her face against the cold concrete and her breath knocked from her chest. She had been walking to her car, keys in hand, purse on her arm - and suddenly there she was on the floor. It seemed absurd.
Later after she crawled into the house, and pulled herself into her chair, she sat for a long time and tried to make sense of it.
Her ankle swelled, and darkened blue. To ease the ache, she propped it on a pillow when she slept at night, and took an aspirin.
The second time was more embarrassing. She forgot to put the bin out Sunday night, so she hurried when she heard the truck at the end of the street Monday morning. The plastic wheels rumbled against the pavement, the weight pulling inexorably down the sloped driveway to the curb. Rolling - faster - suddenly her feet went out from beneath her and the bin rattled down the hill away as she lay, scraped, bleeding, stinging on the pavement. The truck rumbled closer, and she heard the high-pitched shriek of its brakes, halting.
His hands lifted her, held her against his navy coverall, her cheek pressed into the embroidered patch over his heart that said James. She could smell him, soap and cigar beneath the sweet pong of garbage. "Oh, shit, lady, oh please!" His hands shook as he set her down gently on the grass. "Are you okay?"
Tracey from next door was suddenly there, holding a cool damp cloth on her face. "I called 911," she said, "you'll be okay." When Tracey's arms closed around her, she suddenly wept with relief, weak as a child.
The third time, it was nothing. She slipped her feet into her sandals, and the strap snagged on her heel. She bent to pull it round. Suddenly she lost her bearings and she was on the floor, her head ringing from where she'd banged it on the counter.
She wasn't sure how long she was out.
She called her daughter-in-law and told her what happened. Not the boys. Not her daughter - she was always busy, always out, never home. But Emily was a nurse and always said the right things. Emily's voice over the phone lines made sense. She clung to that voice, trusted it, talked to it, even though it was a thousand miles away. She was frightened. What would happen to her next?
Dear readers: I am trying to understand another person's experience by remembering my own. Ten years ago, I rolled my garbage can down my steep driveway and let it pull me down. A couple years ago, I fell on my face on a crowded sidewalk in Manhattan. More recently, I slipped on a puddle of water in a parking garage and fell down - ridiculously, wearing a business suit and heels. This is a made up story, with made up characters, but I wrote it because I want to understand how someone I love feels right now.