driven by my pain and disgust, so when my husband finally came out, I sobbed even harder and turned only to him; and she fortunately faded into the background, while he helped me in to the house, my son trotting along next to us saying, “She’s really hurt—she was almost crying in the car,” which was not entirely true, or, rather, not true enough, because I was pretty much bawling like a baby the whole time, and still was, but it occurred to me then that it must be hard for a kid to see his mother cry in pain, in fact maybe so hard that he couldn’t admit the whole reality, and here I was letting him down too by not being competent for a second, scaring him, probably; and the fact of the broken leg—a nondisplaced [meaning, not moved out of place] fracture of the lower fibula, to be exact—was established and splinted, and the only thing I remember about the emergency room doctor is him saying, “You have to really baby this, even though it will seem like you can walk; if you walk on this too soon, it will be with you as an ailment your whole life, but if you keep the cast on for five weeks and use crutches and DON’T PUT YOUR WEIGHT ON IT, your leg will never know it happened” (which seemed a strange lack of awareness to attribute to my leg, which probably knows nothing except what directly concerns it, and this break definitely directly concerned it, duh); then when it was time for my shower, my husband took the shower with me, at least the first one, since I ached all over, actually, by now, and couldn’t even bend down to soap my lower legs and feet, so he came in with me to wash them, get the ballfield dirt off, and that was beginning to feel kind of fun, in amongst the pain, in a sensual way, except then I learned something about my husband: he didn’t wash in between each of my toes, which made me wonder whether he didn’t wash in between each of his own toes, and whether other people didn’t clean between their own toes, either, or maybe he was just tired of bending over that long and when showering himself he would have bent his knee and brought his toes closer to him, or squat down, and all that thinking totally erased whatever magic the moment had; and from that puzzling event, now I set out on my aftermath: a bizarre mélange of extra attention, neediness, helplessness, frustration, boredom, and pain, to the accompaniment of many hours on the couch watching Princess Diana’s funeral on TV and a penitent visit from the intrepid woman teammate, who wanted me to know that she never dreamed the leg was broken or she wouldn’t have made such a crass remark, which was slightly gratifying but in a way also broke my faith in her, now that I think of it, since to me she was the ultimate stoic tough-girl; and the minutes, hours, and days stretched out for me to hobble around on crutches, move only minimally (forget about dancing), ask for things to
be brought to me (and then wait), retreat almost entirely from the nourishing routine of the family household, and fight for things that I could actually do; and that was the worst: I thought helping was about hands, but there’s really not much a person can do without the legs to support those hands; I could fold clothes if someone took them out of the dryer and brought them to me, first having sorted them, put them into the washer, and so on, which in fact gives them more to do, not less, but otherwise I couldn’t help even myself, which struck me in blunt clarity when, once, I was home alone, my husband away dropping off or picking up kids, and I had a need I couldn’t ignore for a drink of water, a drink that I wanted with me over on the table next to the pile of papers I had to correct, and the sink was easily fifteen paces away from the table: how was I going to get the glass full of water over to the table?, and yet exulting in a task that of necessity I had to accomplish without help, a simple task that I had done hundreds of times before without even thinking about it, but now it was the focus of my existence because it was my task, only how to transport the glass was a worrisome thing: I tried leaning my crutches against the wall while hopping and carrying the glassful of water, but fortunately after one and a half hops the water began sloshing and I foresaw the floor getting wet and slick, and me hopping and slipping and breaking the other leg; then I thought of clenching the glass in my teeth and crutching over, except that as soon as I secured the glass between my teeth and bit down I could see the same consequences on the horizon with the added hazard of broken glass in my mouth; so I thought about carrying the empty glass (in my pocket? down my pants?) over to the table and aiming the water sprayer at it, though the water sprayer was not nearly long enough; I even imagined throwing the whole glass of water at the table—my frustration had reached tantrum pitch—and finally the solution came to me: I envisioned a progression of distinct surfaces, or waystations—bases, really, five of them—on a path from the sink to the table: batter’s box, the counter by the sink; first base, the ledge behind the stove; second base, the bench on the other side of the ledge (which I could shove into position with the uninjured thigh of my bad leg while standing on my good leg); third base, a chair just beyond the bench (ditto); and, finally, the bonus base, home base again, the real home base, the table itself; so I set the glass of water down, deployed my intermediate bases, went back and picked the glass up, reached, set it on each base, crutching ahead to the next base to relay it on, with patience and cunning (at least in my weary mind it passed for cunning), and set down, on home base at my place at the table, the glass, unbroken.
A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim