Wednesday, January 13, 2010
It came to pass, just yesterday, that I was dragging myself past Spouse's place of work, burdened with four plastic shopping bags filled to capacity with numerous reference books from the library, a container of milk, and several packages of bread.
The weight situation had improved only slightly since I briefly stopped at the post office to send a package to a friend- I now suspect, too late, that it would have been more prudent to post the the groceries to my home and thus relieve me of aching limbs- but the envelope weighed next to nothing, and the struggle to pay the postage using just my elbows only served to cause more bewilderment.
I shuffled along by Spouse's building, hoping to reach home before he did. The midday sun beat down on my sluggish form.
In a moment something was under my foot, stuck brazenly to the roof of my boot. I sighed. I had no time for such obstacles, and no hands to properly examine the item, so I made efforts to scrape it off. It refused to leave me and it made a dreadful clackety clack noise when I tried to proceed with the journey. I twisted and turned my foot until I could catch a glimpse of the object, all the while trying to stay balanced on a single leg, two sinking, sagging supermarket bags choking the circulation in each hand.
No chewing gum or wayward pebble was it, but an enormous nail, the head of which was all that was visible.
It was less than good, I reasoned, staring at the awful intruder, to have a nail protruding through one's boot when one was so defenceless. If I set my boot on the ground again, the nail would, in all likelihood, go straight through my foot- I had to presume, for peace of mind, that it had not already done so.
I performed a rapid calculation in my head: if I transferred the two bags in my right hand, that would make four bags in my left hand, a weight I might cling to for perhaps thirty seconds, in which time I could, I hoped, retrieve my telephone from my backpack- slung, mercifully, around one shoulder and not on my back- and call Spouse for assistance.
I explained to him about one leg and no free hands whatsoever and a big nail in my boot and milk and library books and that I was wobbling near to the big clock; and Spouse, to his eternal credit, deciphered my babbled code immediately.
He urged me to stay right where I was- I promised to do so- and said that he would be with me in a minute.
My right hand threw the telephone into my backpack and scooped up the two packages just as the left was about to retire.
Seconds later I saw Spouse's familiar blue shirt gliding around a corner. I could not, of course, wave to signal my presence- and still he was gliding away, gliding, eyes fixed heroically on a point in the distance that was not where I was at all. I wondered if he had seen another soul in need propped up on one leg, and whether he thought that it was I, and whether nails in the boots of pedestrians weighed down with books and food supplies was a common occurrence in that particular corner.
I felt lost at sea, saw my only chance of salvation bobbing further away from me on a wave that was very nearly salty.
At last Spouse's gaze wavered- he looked around the courtyard and- I was so glad- he recognised me. He had mistaken me for a flamingo at first, so it was entirely understandable. He proceeded to save me in the middle of his work day, holding the grocery bags while I took off my boot and struggled to remove the nail, and then, when it would not budge, letting me hold the bags while he tugged at and extracted the nail.
Noble deed performed, Spouse returned to the business of Work, and I, light footed- on account, perhaps, of the thundering hole in my beloved boot- went on my way.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 5:19 PM