Friday, August 12, 2011

creatures of the deep

They seemed like they’d been together for decades strictly by the way they moved. A certainty each felt for the other. Age had set in, in the way that it does, not always kindly. Metabolism changes, age spots, sagging skin, creases and folds, thick eye wear, and expensive hearing devices had become a part of their looks now, the types of things to even be chronicled by their granddaughter in her charming drawings that found their home magnetized to the refrigerator door. Pop-Pop would be drawn in blue, giant circular spectacles taking over his ovular face and an even more giant circular belly. Mee-Maw in lavender would sport the glasses too and the chair she found herself bound to now.

She remembered the time her husband and she had gone on vacation to San Francisco, just three years after the chair had become her legs. She remembered going to that seafood restaurant in the Wharf. The one recommended to them by their concierge at the Holiday Inn Express. The one with big window views of the boat-dotted bay. The one with the blue mermaid statue out front. Another legless creature, she had thought, getting by.

She remembered the flush that came to her cheeks for the amount of space that darn wheelchair took up in the crowded restaurant and how the young waiters in their crisp button downs and bowties had to carefully maneuver behind her with their big trays of chowder.

“I want to sit in the chair,” she had whispered to him, and he hadn’t put up a fight. Getting her into it, they both knew, would be some trouble, but he arranged himself behind her, knees bent slightly, holding on at once to the wheelchair and the wooden seat that would stick out less from the table.

She was sure people were watching her, thinking was it really worth it? All this trouble for this woman to abandon her chair for one meal, for no more than two hours, only to have to return to it. But she was determined now, and she could feel her determination rise up, and be caught by the man who she could remember being young with. It was at that moment when she was picturing them as they used to be, long-haired and smooth-skinned that the dining chair came out from under the weight of her. Her body went down too, landing with a decided thud on the restaurant floor.

The silence that came next was broken quickly by a sound simultaneously uttered. The standing-up man and the on-the-floor woman. The old, fat couple with deteriorating bodies let out a wave of hysteria, so certain and clear. Their laughter floated up and flooded the room, tears of delight streamed down their plump cheeks and reminded them of everything worthy of remembering.