She walked around the block one step at a time, pausing like a child to kick a leaf or notice a dent in the grass where a rabbit spent the night. She walked slowly because walking quickly was a memory, a faint shadow from her past, like running, jumping, hopping, skipping. She had no desire to hop or skip, but she did want to keep moving, however slowly, around the block.
She wasn’t completely alone. The woman with the eager, shaggy dog approached from the opposite direction.
A boy with a backpack stepped around her, then ran for the corner where a school bus was pulling up. A rabbit froze on the boulevard, then burst across the sidewalk as she shuffled closer.
The cane still felt awkward in her hand, and she admitted to herself that she was afraid of falling, or even stumbling, but she was grateful for the time. She had time. All she had to do today was get around the block. That was it. One time. If she was still on her way at noon, she could call Leo to bring her lunch. Perhaps she’d be on the next street by then, half-way around. She could pause on the sidewalk, lean into Leo, and eat her sandwich. She hoped he’d remember the lettuce. He never put lettuce on his own creations, but she didn’t like a sandwich without lettuce.
Well, there was one exception—no lettuce on peanut butter and jelly. Her father had packed a peanut butter, jelly and lettuce sandwich in her school lunch once, 75 years ago, and she’d never forgotten it or quite forgiven him—and now she was moving as slowly as her dad in his last days, but on a sidewalk with the sun shining, not some nursing home with handrails on the corridor walls.
She kept going, step by step, almost to the corner, looking forward to turning the corner. Funny how a cliché like “turn the corner” took on real meaning when you were forced to act it out. She’d turn the corner once, turn another one and be half-way there. Now that would be something to celebrate.
© 2013 Kathleen Coskran