We clink through the glass mason jars on the shadowy shelf in the cellar, squinting to read the Sharpie labels in the dark, and select an intriguing pint of pickles, prepared and preserved from last summer’s cucumbers we weren’t here to witness being grown. The stems of dill wriggle in the dusky brine like jellyfish tentacles. We carry the jar upstairs to the kitchen counter, plopping it next to the sink that’s spilled with sunlight from the wide, square window above it, and crack the metal lid with a knife, then take turns dipping our fingers inside to fish for soft, slimy spears of pimpled green.
I know that it’s not permanent. I know that there are way worse injuries than broken ankles, and that even broken ankles are often way worse than mine. I know this. People break bones all the time. Children break bones all the time. But maybe it’s easier for children. They get neon casts for the other kids to sign. They have to worry about missing out on basketball games, but they don’t have to wonder whether their coworkers secretly consider them lazy for being less productive this month; whether everyone else on the sidewalk resents them for their sluggish pace; whether the forced inactivity will cause them to get fat, and why it even matters if they get fat, why they care, why they’re so shallow, why, why am I making this such a big deal?
This is not a big deal, he said. It’s all a hilarious spectacle. “Nothing bad is actually going to happen.”
It was the day Trump took his oath, and I was trying to swallow my breakfast. I crossed my legs under the table and twiddled the silver spoon between my fingers, staring down at the frozen blueberries — leftovers saved from last spring’s harvest at the farm — floating in their muddled pool of coconut milk.
A man comes down with the flu. He’s the sort of man who swims laps at the gym before work, who remembers to back up his computer on a weekly basis, who displays his kids’ crayon masterpieces in frames on his desk. He is used to being in control. But thanks to the flu, he is forced to surrender the second half of a day when he had intended to Get Important Stuff Done. At lunchtime, he crawls home in his car and retreats to his bedroom, demanding to be left alone.