Once Upon A Time In Egypt?
Desert Siren -- Part 1
The Art of Sidney Sime
Guilt and the Artist
Making Green Art & Staying Healthy
EMG news for June 2008
Light On His Feetby Phil Richardson
"You know, Edna," Fred grumbled, "I used to look forward to fall, but now it means the cold will make me ache all over."
Edna winced. She tried to understand his pain, but sometimes it was hard, because he complained a lot. Married thirty years, she no longer enjoyed playing nursemaid to a bad patient.
“I can’t reach the paper,“ he gestured to the evening paper out of his reach, Reluctantly, she got up, handed him the paper and returned to her chair. She had looked forward to Fred’s retirement and traveling, but now her biggest outing was for necessities. They had planned a trip to Egypt when he retired, but that was not to be.
She picked up her travel book and began reading about Egyptian pyramids. Life was like an upside down pyramid, she mused. Your troubles are smallest when you are young and they just keep expanding, as you grow older.
“You're reading that travel book just to annoy me," Fred said. "You blame me for keeping you home, don’t you?”
“No, Fred, I just enjoy reading about other places. Have you done your exercises yet?”
“Not today. They don’t help anyway.”
“How would you know? You never do them.”
"I'm going to do one now. I'm going to go to the kitchen."
Fred hefted his bulk out of the chair with a groan. “Think I’ll have one of those frozen ice cream bars.”
“Remember, Dear,” she said. “The doctor wants you to lose weight.”
Fred now weighed almost two-hundred fifty pounds and, since he was only five-foot-five his weight was a concern. One of her friends had unkindly compared Fred's shape to a hot air balloon.
“What do doctors know? They can’t cure me.”
Neither can I, Edna thought. Oh I wish he could lose weight. I wish we could go for walks together like we used to. I wish we could travel again. I wish...
She did not realize as she made those wishes her hand rested on a picture of hieroglyphics from a carving found in Egypt. She didn’t know the meaning or the power of the words written there. Had she known, she might have been more careful in what she wished.
The next morning Fred surprised her. “I feel comfortable sitting here.” He moved experimentally in the chair and lifted his leg. “See, even my leg’s easier to move.”
Edna walked over and lifted his hand. It felt surprisingly light.
“Well, “ she said. “If you’re feeling better, let’s take a walk. The sun is shining and the breeze is twirling the leaves. It’s really beautiful!”
“I don’t know if I feel that good.”
“Come on, Fred, you can’t sit in that chair forever.”
Fred got up. “OK, I will, but it will be your fault if I feel worse.”
Together they headed toward the park. Leaves from the maple trees blew across their path and Edna felt like she was walking in a liquid stream of yellow. The smells of autumn always made her think of her youth; making houses from leaves, piling them up and jumping in them and, finally, burning them so the smoke pervaded your senses. Every day had seemed beautiful then.
As they walked in the park, Fred held her hand and, wonder of wonders, he seemed to be almost skipping. For a moment she felt a sense of hope, but then Fred stopped.
“I think we’ve walked far enough,” Fred whined. “I really would just rather sit and read.”
“But, you’re doing so well. Let’s just walk across the park.”
“Nope, I’m bored with all this.” He turned abruptly and headed back home.
Edna stood for a moment and then followed him to the house, went to the kitchen and began furiously scouring a frying pan. Sometimes she felt like a prisoner in her own home.
Late in the afternoon, she decided to take a break and walk to the library. When she arrived, she wondered what to choose for Fred, because his tastes were so narrow. Since he read a book a day, the choices from their small library were limited. Better to think about herself for once.
She went to the travel section and discovered she had read most of the books about Egypt so she went to the poetry section and found a book of Haiku. As she leafed through it, one poem reached out to her:
The poem seemed written for her, so she added the book to her pile. The walk home gave her time to think about the poem and its meaning, but she dreaded arriving because Fred piled up complaints while she was gone. She hesitated outside the door and then opened it expecting to hear Fred whining.
“Fred, I’m home, “ she announced. She heard only a muffled reply and, putting down her books,walked into the living room. Fred was not there. She walked into the kitchen. No Fred. She ran up the stairs calling “Fred. Fred! Where are you?”
“I’m here! I’m here!” His voice seemed to come from the end of the hallway.
“Look up, you dummy! Just tilt your head and look up!”
Edna looked up. Fred was on the ceiling. His arms and legs spread-eagled like he was glued there.
“Don’t just stand there like a ninny! Get me down!”
They didn’t have anything tall enough to reach him. “Maybe I should call the fire department. They have ladders!” she said desperately.
“No! No! I don’t want anyone to see me like this. Figure something out. Use your brain, you dummy!” His whole body vibrated with anger and he bounced off the ceiling a few inches.
Edna rushed into the bedroom, saw her dust mop sitting in the corner, grabbed it and, returning to the hallway, reached it to Fred. Unfortunately she had placed the mop end to him so he began sneezing from the dust.
“Stupid woman!” He coughed out the words as he pulled himself hand over hand down the mop to her. “Can’t do anything right! Ahhhchooo!” Finally, he reached the end of the mop and grabbed her hand. Using her arm, he pulled himself into an upright position, and she tugged him down the hall and into the bedroom. He clung tightly to her hand as she maneuvered him into a chair where he grasped the sides to hold himself down.
“What happened, “ Edna stammered. “How did you get this way?”
“I don’t know, “ he replied. “I was taking a nap and when I woke up I was drifting around the room. Some air currents took me out in the hallway and I went straight up from there. It was a scary.”
Edna stifled a smile as she thought about Fred drifting along the ceiling and cursing all the way.
"What are you going to do? You’ve got to figure something out.”
“Well, maybe if you held a heavy book or something.” She went over to the bookshelves and picked out a heavy dictionary.
“Try this,” she said, placing it in his lap. Fred grasped the book, but the minute he let go of the chair, he began drifting upwards. Edna pushed him down again. “I guess whatever affects you affects whatever you touch. I wonder why the chair doesn’t rise too.”
“Who gives a damn,’ he replied. “This is not exactly a logical experience. Think of something. I can’t hold onto this chair forever.”
After a moment’s pause, Edna went over to her sewing basket and pulled out a roll of Velcro tape. She returned to the chair, and after Fred allowed himself to drift up a little, affixed strips of tape to the chair and, finally, to Fred. She pushed him down and when the Velcro gripped, he was able to let go of the chair.
“You finally did something right,” he said. “Now all you have to do is put Velcro in places where I need it--the chairs, the sofa, the bed. Don’t forget the toilet!”
Edna stifled a laugh. Fred had evidently forgotten she had attached the Velcro to his pants and she would have to glue some to his skin if it was going to help him when his pants were down.
She then guided him downstairs to his comfy chair. Funny, she thought, all of his chairs are going to be comfy chairs from now on.
“Now," he said, "what we’ve got to do is rig some ropes around here so I can pull myself from room to room. You know, like lifelines on a ship.”
Edna thought about the trouble she would have getting around with ropes strung all over the rooms and decided she would put this idea on hold.
“Maybe it will go away.”
“I got a feeling it won’t,” he replied. “I think I’ve been cursed by somebody.”
Edna blushed slightly, thinking it might have been her wish that put them into this fix.
Fred was not going to be any easier to live with than he was before, and if he ever found out she had wished for him to lose all that weight, she would be at the top of his hate list. All plans for travel or walks in the park in the light of day would have to be discarded. Life had been difficult before, but now it would be pure hell for her. Then an idea came to her, a way to fix everything -- at least for her.
It was dark outside when Edna began pulling down the window shades so no one could see into the house. She found a dog’s leash she hadn’t thrown away when their dog died and tied one end around Fred’s wrist and snapped the other end to one of the belt loops of her jeans. She pulled Fred off the chair and he immediately floated upwards until he reached the end of the leash. He looked like one of those silly smiley balloons you buy for birthday parties.
“I don’t like this,” he said. “I want to just sit in my chair. I don’t like floating around. Don’t open any windows or I might just float out and you'd never find me.”
“Don’t worry, dear. Now we’re going to go for a nice walk. There’s no one outside to see us.”
Fred protested, but he really didn’t have much choice as Edna simply tugged him out the door and began walking to the park. The breeze had picked up a bit and she struggled because towing Fred was like towing a large balloon.
“Don’t walk so fast, “ Fred said. “You’re making me dizzy.”
“Just a little further dear. I want to go down by the lake where we can see the stars.”
“I don’t like the lake. I want to go back.” He pulled himself down the leash towards Edna, but she simply gave the leash a quick snap and he was flung back to the end. When they finally reached the lake, she looked up at the stars and turned to Fred. “Aren’t they beautiful? Wouldn’t you like to see them a little closer?” So saying, she reached down and unsnapped the leash from her jeans. She held the end in her hand briefly and then let go. Fred floated off into the sky. For a while, she could hear him calling and see the outline of his body where it blotted out the stars. Soon she couldn’t see him any more. She turned and headed back to the house. “I think I’ll read that book about Egypt tonight and tomorrow I’ll make my reservations.” She was going to miss Fred, but... not too much.
“Aren’t they beautiful? Wouldn’t you like to see them a little closer?” So saying, she reached down and unsnapped the leash from her jeans. She held the end in her hand briefly and then let go. Fred floated off into the sky. For a while, she could hear him calling and see the outline of his body where it blotted out the stars. Soon she couldn’t see him any more. She turned and headed back to the house. “I think I’ll read that book about Egypt tonight and tomorrow I’ll make my reservations.” She was going to miss Fred, but... not too much.
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