Sunday, September 6, 2009


It was, and was not, her leg.

The weight of it came and went, along with the pain, dull, prickly, sharp, an antique cactus of pain, pinning her to the rubble. She could not move her leg from the pain, but, with concentration, she could move the pain from her leg.

She would lose it, the leg. Already, she began to let it go.

The pain was not the worst part. The darkness, the strange particulate air, imbued with suffocating dust like cotton candy spun from topsoil, that might be the worst. And the creaking, the eerie, haunted-house squeal of uncertain girders wailing through the night, that might be the worst too. Or maybe the damp, creeping cold into the parts that could still move, but not very far. But then the leg would start screaming, rising up like an infidel from the desert. And she would breathe through the dirt-thick air, and push the pain back.

Far, far away, she heard other sounds, yelling and drilling, sounds her brain recognized as hopeful, rescue sounds. This was America after all, and they would reach her sooner or later and bring her back to the light. She couldn’t see the mountain that had stolen her lower limb from her, clamped down on her knee like a junkyard dog with a squirrel in its jaw. The squirrel would die, but first it would go into shock and feel nothing. Just as she could scarcely feel now. She would go up, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow. And she’d leave the punctuated pain, and the broken piece of meat, down here. Goodbye, leg, she thought. We had a good run.

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