After the Fall

A beautiful, clear, cool day.

“Let’s go down to the pond,” I said and Garry agreed. We’ve been meaning to go for a while and this was as perfect a day as one could hope for.

It took me too long to figure out which cameras and lenses to bring, but eventually, I got myself organized. We found a beautiful little dam we’d never noticed before, probably because it’s behind a restored mill at the very southern end of Whitins Pond. I heard the sound of the rushing water and followed it. It’s not really so little. It’s not high as so many other local dams are, but it’s very long … a big crescent and rather oddly configured. The water doesn’t so much come over the top as come through the dam. I’ve never seen another like it.

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When I felt I had sufficiently photographed the dam, I thought I’d go across the street and see if any of the swans were out, or any of the geese. There was a lot of evidence that the geese have definitely set up residence nearby.

So, I turn around and was about to cross the road, sort of chicken-like. That’s when I fell down and smashed my face in the parking lot. Flat on my face. Good I have a big nose because that’s probably how come I still have front teeth.

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This was almost immediately after warning Garry to watch his feet and not trip. A humbling experience, my friends. I now look like an abused wife. A badly abused wife with band-aids all over my face. Glad I didn’t do this before the Hall of Fame excursion. It would have totally ruined the effect of the makeup and nice dress and hairdo and all that stuff.

The last time I looked like this, I had been whacked in the face by a horse flinging his head up (no martingale and he really should have been wearing one since the stable folks knew he was a chronic head-tosser). No matter what I said, absolutely everyone — including people who really should know better — were convinced Garry beat me. So this time, to avoid the inevitable rush to judgment, I suggested I should stay inside and out of public view until I don’t look quite so much like a street fighter who got the wrong end of the win-lose call. I already know no one will believe he didn’t punch me in the face. Except the dozen or so people who saw me fall in the parking lot.

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Good news? I didn’t break the camera (yay). The eyeglasses I was wearing are history, but I needed new ones anyway. I was awaiting a sign from God that I should buy a new pair. Be careful what you wish for. So now, I think I’ll just sit still and not do anything dangerous, like walk. Cook. Move. Just sit here. In front of the computer. Until I fuse with my hard drive.

However, other than “watch your feet, moron” there is a point to this story. If you are one of those people who believe “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” this is a perfect example of how untrue that is. Here’s a case where you can see a lot of smoke. Yet there is no fire at all and never was.

I’ve gotten a smashed face four times in my life. Twice, it was child abuse: my son as a toddler kicked me across the bridge of my nose with his heavy orthopedic shoe while we were playing. The next time, I was napping on the sofa and my clever 2-year-old decided to wake me by smacking me in the face with a marble ash tray. Toddler abuses mother. Film at 11! And then, when Garry and I were trail riding and the horse socked me with his skull. Do you know how hard the top of a horse’s head is? I’ll tell you. Very hard. Like a rock.

And finally, there was the time when I had a seizure and walked — while actually unconscious — into the lintel of the bathroom door and needed stitches to re-attach my nose.

Each time, someone wanted to bring the cops in and finger Garry as an abuser. I’m not saying abuse doesn’t happen. Quite the contrary, it happens far too often … but there are also too many assumptions made that ruin lives and reputations. Because things are not always what they seem. My motto? Wait for real evidence before you judge.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Dialogue – Land Mine

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“Good morning,” I said. It was going to be a hot, sticky day. I noticed the top of the Dutch door was open. I closed it.

“How are you feeling?” I ask.

“Okay.” He doesn’t sound okay. He sounds angry. I sigh. Our emotional landscape is strewn with land mines.

“Got anything planned today?” I phrase my question carefully, presenting it in my most dulcet tones … almost flutey.

“Not really.”

He continues to putter at the sink. The anger seems to come from nowhere, settling solidly between us, heavy and sodden.

“I hate to bother you, but could you keep the doors closed when the air conditioning is on? You know, electric bill and stuff.”

Our electric bill the previous month had exceeded our car payment. I didn’t say it, but I must have thought it too loudly. And stepped right on that land mine. Boom. Blew my foot right off.

“All you ever do is criticize me. You don’t appreciate the stuff I do!”

Whatever I might say would just make it worse. He isn’t angry with me. He’s angry with an irrational universe which has saddled him with me. He’s poorly equipped to play the supporting role in a medical melodrama. No natural aptitude for care-giving. Unhappy playing sensitive helpmate to a sickly wife. Nor am I good at being a sickly wife. It’s a boring role.

We wind up locked together in the angry dance. We don’t know the steps and are forever treading on each others’ toes. We don’t care for the melody either, but we have to keep dancing. Tough assignment.

This must be why they put that insidious “for better and worse, in sickness and in health” clause in marriage vows. The “better and health” parts are easy, but the “worse and sickness” section can prove a serious test of a relationship. Life plays cruel jokes.

Pity we never get to see our future until it’s too late to do anything about it. If ever there was such a time.

Fall will come. And cooler weather.

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Don’t forget to practice your scales

Practice, practice, practice.

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Dan Piraro is an amazing cartoonist. I am not sure I would want to live in his head, however. It seems to contains much that is strange and wonderful, or merely strange — but wonderful. Visit him directly by clicking right here!