Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
Life Slows To A Crawl
by Suzanne Farrell
One night, incredibly, I won. I saw the opening. Pointing the toes, I slid the foot through a triangle made by his bent leg and her wobbling fingers. I felt the toes arrive at her overworked arm. I hooked the big one around a couple of her splayed fingers and jerked, causing her to slip and the whole mass of sweaty bodies to tumble, leaving me still somewhat upright, triumphant, at the mat's edge.
"Agh! Who did that?" she said, loud with drink. I beamed. I did it. I won! (And she was my yoga teacher!)
But something was wrong. During its maneuver, the right leg malfunctioned. Darting like a lizard's tongue, the leg had overextended. It knew it was not a lizard's tongue. It was just a leg.
My mind was entirely focused on the brilliant move, on congratulating the leg for its surprising agility. I had not noticed the pop, the thirty seconds of numbness, the slow spread of warmth.
My opponent's whining faded. I leaned against the wall. Goodbye, great game, fun to hang out tonight, see you all later, call you tomorrow.
At the orthopedic surgeon's office, I explained. "It's a Twister injury." He paused, considered, kept talking. Kneecap…misaligned…weak tendon…frayed tissue…would have happened at some point.
Now, life slows to a crawl, to a leg lifted on the couch's arm, to stillness. The heat sits heavy in the apartment like mucus in the lungs. Stretching the bum knee is difficult. The leg is hung-over after surgery. Bit by the hair of the dog. That light, that light from the window, it is too much. I'm languishing in the space of a full stop.
What do they say when you're young? You have your whole life ahead of you; as in, better use it wisely. You can do anything; as in, choose something, already. Life is an open possibility; as in, if you don't walk through the open door, you might fall out the gaping window, splatter, get cleaned up by wet tongues of hungry rats. There's no time to be laid up.
But I won.
Suzanne Farrell is earning an MFA in creative nonfiction at Vermont College of Fine Arts. A former elementary school teacher, Suzanne writes a whole lot of stuff about childhood, memory, and teaching. Her work can be found in www.canonmagazine.org
and inthefray.org. She still does not have full range of motion.
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