Friday, January 30, 2009

missy & marcos

I have a basket of wheat crackers and am walking the circumference of Cobalt Pond, throwing them at water fowl. Missy's telling me the story of when her knees went out on her. "Know those dreams where your body suddenly gets insanely heavy, like someone has trapped your insides in a spider web, and crack, down you go? That's the closest I can get to explaining it."


Missy has told me this story countless times. She chops and dices details, garnishes variations, so much that I have to struggle to find the core of what actually happened.


What I've been able to get is this: It was on the day before she went from 14 years old to 15, which means it was summertime. Her boyfriend at the time, Marcos, had been in her parents' backyard, trying to impress her by attending to chores he'd not been asked to do.


He'd been cutting the grass, full service, the works.

He was done mowing and edging, and he had out a gas tank and was pouring fuel into the small belly of a weed wacker, when he did something stupid, they later learned, with a book of matches and a pack of unfiltered Salems.


Missy heard the boom, cutting over the voice of a talk show guest. She didn't stir. It's just imagined pyrotechnics, she thought. Or at worst, one of Marco's stultifying ploys for attention.


Marcos usually did chores hastily, zipping around the house like a lit stick of dynamite. That way, he could be back at Missy's side fast, in better graces than ever.


When the next show started and Missy realized she hadn't heard the tight circling of yard implements in a while, she ran out back, down the deck stairs, and saw Marcos just outside the shed, slumped.


That's when she went down.


Missy's parents made no room in the house for mourning, not for herself or Marcos. But they did build a crimped, unlevel wooden snake of a ramp for her to maneuver her wheelchair up to the front door and back down when it was time to go.


And since she was never allowed to speak of it then, never permitted to let words wash the Marcos' memory clean, never to grieve the loss of unfettered mobility, she has spent the years since leaving their house going over it in so many ways, so many times, that she isn't convinced that that was how it had happened at all.

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