Beautiful Malady

entry_213My friend returned from her vacation with skin the color of apricot honey. “Wow,” I said, and proceeded to ignore her recounting of exotic locales and leisure pursuits. The change in her complexion was profound, but more than that, her countenance glowed with a vitality that made her seem more real. She was transformed, and I couldn’t help but to comment again. “I can’t get over how healthy you look. I guess that’s it.”

She said, “You’re talking about my skin, aren’t you?”

“Hard not to notice,” I said. “I’d gotten used to you being a pasty pale thing, and even though I’ve never been one to equate tans with health–I’m proud of my ghost-flesh–I can’t deny that… it complements you. If I may be so bold.”

She laughed, “You are the saucy one. But in my case it actually isn’t healthy. When I’m in the sun too long–on those rare occasions–I get these really weird blotches. You can’t normally see them, but my face is actually one big blotch. I swear, it ends around my neck.”

Was this modesty? I wasn’t sure.

“Really,” she said, and leaned forward, tugging her collar down so I could see her right shoulder. “See there, where it ends? It’s red where my shoulder meets my neck, and there’s this ragged intersection that goes all the way down my back.”
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Grown Up

entry_212I’m lying on the floor, languid as a corpse. I practice not breathing, and can feel my heart slowing. Slowing. Then I feel the need to stretch, and I stretch so violently that my molars click against each other like one of those wind-up dentures. The feeling of unmitigated sloth is delicious. I’ve always enjoyed a good stretch on the floor. It’s convenient, it’s flat, and the low viewpoint provides a most favorable perspective of a room. As a matter of personal aesthetic, I’ve preferred an inferior perspective since I was quite young. My adolescent height gains only made me more conspicuous, and allowed me to see over everything at will. Where’s the adventure in that? When one is small, everything is a potential maze, which is one reason why, every now and again, I appreciate a return to a more grounded point of view.

I roll onto my chest, and support myself on my elbows, looking down the carpeted hall. This is how varmints see the world, I think. Varmints and critters, bugs and babies. I wonder how quickly I could pull myself down the hall using only my elbows. What if that were my only means of locomotion? Properly motivated, I suppose I could get moving pretty quickly, but this is an untested theory. It might also cause undue strain to the tissue of my elbows, for example. There’s no way to accurately anticipate the outcome, so naturally I must commit to the task.

I need a trigger though, something to set me off. There must be something from which to flee. And it comes to me: K. is in the bathroom behind me. When she emerges and notices me there on the floor, that will be my cue to move. I’ll gallop down the hall on my elbows, pulling my useless body after me. How far will I get? I decide that if I can make it as far as the cat food bowls, that will be considered safe. Is it an unrealistic goal? I’ll just have to find out by trying, as I would if my life depended on it.

I am completely still on my elbows, waiting for the click of the door. I am poised to start. I’m looking at the cat food bowls at the other end of the hall, and visualizing my eventual progress toward them. I’m noticing bits of cat food on the carpet. I see a piece of something beneath the refrigerator. My forearms are beginning to tingle.

K. is taking longer in the bathroom than I’d anticipated. But all the more reason to be aware of the click of the door knob. It’s imperative that I pull myself to safety before she can catch me. And in thinking it over, I realize I’m not in the right position to start. One elbow should be slightly in front of the other, and my back should be in a natural position, but stiff. There, now, for the first time in three minutes, I’m truly ready to crawl to freedom. It’s a good thing I had this extra moment to get into the correct starting position. A luxury, some might deem it, but I’ll take what I can get.
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