The babysitter sat the toddler on the potty chair. “Concentrate,” she commanded as she scrunched up her face and feigned to push.
The toddler, eager to please, imitated the sounds and gestures. Her tiny face reddened in the process yet she produced no results.
“We’ll try again tomorrow,” reassured the babysitter.
The next day, Mommy and baby went to meet friends at the diner. The two-year-old quickly bored. She fidgeted and became disruptive.
Mommy sat her on the high chair and said, “Concentrate,” unaware the babysitter used the command for other lessons.
Baby scrunched up her face did the deed.
The crisp air hinted autumn. The sky azure, darker than sky blue, lighter than sapphire, devoid of clouds. Suddenly, police began to run south. A buzz erupted. “Did you hear? Did you hear?” I walked swiftly through Times Square and held tightly to my purse, aware that scoundrels strike when police are distracted. The buzz escalated to shouts of twin towers. Planes. Fire. Panic gripped my heart. My husband and many of our friends worked at the World Trade Center. Hours crawled before we learned that he and all our friends narrowly escaped the horrors. We were the lucky ones.
The body grieves when it loses a limb. It aches for the hand that scratched the chin or the leg that jumped double-dutch. These appendages do not grow like hair or nails. Yet, the body functions without the whole. It adapts to one leg. It scratches with the other hand. Vision readjusts to one eye, and if both eyes go missing, the other senses heighten. The body is miraculous. It adjusts to new circumstances, but the loss … The loss remains real. So it is with death. Life goes on but the gaping hole weeps for one more I Love You.
Captain dug in the front and rear anchors, securing the pontoon in place. As soon as he gave two thumbs up, the gang jumped in. All, that is, except Lily. She hesitated. The water was waist high and looked clean, yet she fixated on the lake’s boggy bottom. She shuddered at the thought of dead sea life mixed in with sand filtering through her toes. Seconds turned into minutes. The sun continued to climb. Soon beads of sweat dripped down her ears and cleavage. The building sweat washed away the phobias. She jumped in and welcomed the refreshingly cool water.
Large black seeds filled the coral flesh of the watermelon. Its juicy scent made Lola’s mouth water. A long time ago, her grandmother had picked an extra-large Calabaza from the squash garden. The extraordinary Calabaza grew on a separate vine. Imagine her grandmother’s surprise when she cut into soft flesh rather than Calabaza’s tough flesh. A sweet treat for the entire family!
Lola pushed aside the black seeds. Most people prefer seedless watermelons, but Lola learned the morning of her grandmother’s discovery that watermelon with black seeds is sweeter and juicier than the seedless type. Give her seeded any time.
A nearby cat meowed. Liz jumped. Her heart raced and hands became sweaty. She rationalized her fears were irrational, but the body’s physiological reactions were all too real. Her knees trembled at the very thought of fainting onto the very street where dogs peed all day long. She willed her legs to move faster. When she entered her apartment, she collapsed against the door. The acrid taste of fear lingered in her throat. She knew she had to do something. Contact someone. She swallowed Nyquil and waited for its numbing effect. Tomorrow she’d call someone. Today she just craved sleep.
The air was so thick that if you were to swing a bat, you would see traces of a make-believe ball suspended in midair. Cousin Olga and I found refuge from the heat beneath the house. Our grandparents’ house was elevated on stilts that served two purposes: to level the house because the terrain was rocky and hilly and to avoid floods from streams that rushed downhill on rainy days. We always found treasure that had fallen through the floor cracks. Small objects such as marbles, balls, combs. We could count on finding lizards, frogs, and stray baby chicks, too.
This summer, two robins formed a nest on the door topper that my brother-in-law had gifted us. A roaring lion head representative of his masonry work. A week after the nesting period, three little beaks appeared, wide opened and silent like the lion. One parent fed feverishly while the other kept vigil. Two weeks went by before we heard the first chirps and the same day, the family flew away.
It has been five years since my brother-in-law left this world. Now the empty nest sits atop the lion topper waiting for new occupants, and we await another heavenly visit.
I hear flapping gnats hovering near my inner ear. They screech at the top of their tiny lungs commanding my attention. I call it technology passing through me. Doctors call it tinnitus.
I surround myself with sounds to minimize the buzz. Therefore, TV remains on all day and night, and iPod keeps me company during long commutes. Still, I prefer the buzzing gnats to the booms that travel through water. Whenever I dunk my head underwater, currents magnify sounds and my heart races uncontrollably. I shoot out the water so fast you’d think a missile bomb was heading my way.
I tossed and turned for four nights seeking a comfortable spot. Each time I moved, so did hubby. The mattresses at the bed and breakfast offered no support. A few days later, pain shot down my back straight to my knee. I blamed the mattresses. Felt the weight of passing years bearing down my sagging body. Sadness mixed with fear gnawed my insides for 60 looms too close. Then I remembered the true culprit of the pain. I had missed a step going downstairs. My one leg absorbed the shock while I balanced myself. Relief swept over me knowing this.